Sultan visits ailing Suharto in hospital

JAKARTA (Agencies) - His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday consented to visit former Indonesian president Suharto, who is undergoing treatment at a hospital in the Indonesian capital.

The 86-year-old Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years, suffered multiple organ failure last Friday, a week after he was initially admitted to hospital with a weakening heart, kidney and lungs.

But while his lungs and kidneys were barely functioning, his heart appeared to improve, and he was conscious and able to respond when asked to take someone's hand, said Marjo Subiandono, the chief presidential doctor.

"We are quite amazed at how strong he is ... maybe because he is a former soldier, a general," Subiandono said. "If I was in the same state, I don't think I would have made it this far."

Former state secretary and Suharto confidant Murdiono said His Majesty the Sultan prayed beside a sleeping Suharto.

"The Sultan, accompanied by the Bruneian ambassador, visited Pak Harto and approached Pak Harto's bed," he said.

"He prayed at the side of Pak Harto."

Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad flew in to Jakarta earlier on Monday to pay an emotional visit to his old friend.

Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who is 84 and another old friend, jetted into Jakarta on Sunday to pay a brief visit as Suharto lay sedated.

Subiandono said doctors spoke with them twice Sunday to explain that "he only had a 50-50 chance of survival" and that the situation could quickly deteriorate. He said they left it to the medical team to decide what to do, including the possibility of removing him from life support. - Borneo Bulletin (15th Jan 2008)