Indonesia's Habibie, president during transition to democracy, dies

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at former Indonesian president BJ Habibie’s funeral at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta

Indonesians bury former president Habibie at state funeral

His time in power was marked by his decision to allow a referendum on independence for the people of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which had been annexed by Indonesia in the 1970s. But there are a couple of things that make Habibie an "unusual" president in the political history of Indonesia.

"He is a true statesman, an inspirator, a scientist who believes that without love intelligence is unsafe", Widodo said in a farewell speech. "He is definitely a objective product for all of the nation's youngsters ... surely Indonesia has lost a person of its ideal sons".

The remains of Habibie will be buried next to those of his wife, Hasri Ainun Besari, who had breathed her last in 2010 at a hospital in Germany. A armed forces band performed a dirge.

Mr Habibie died aged 83 on Wednesday at Jakarta's Gatot Subroto army hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for heart problems since 1 September.

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Foreign leaders and diplomats offered their condolences, including the American and British ambassadors in Jakarta.

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Facebook that he was "deeply saddened" by Habibie's passing while on his way to Jakarta for a working visit. At the time, Singaporeans found his remark disparaging but Habibie later said he was misquoted.

Zainal Abidin said at the meeting, Dr Wan Azizah conveyed condolences from the Malaysian government and people to the Indonesian government and its people on Habibie's death.

Habibie was tapped to lead Indonesia by Suharto as the military dictator's 32-year hold on power crumbled in May 1998 during a student uprising and a devastating economic crash.

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It ended after only 16 months in October 1999 when he withdrew from contention in presidential elections.

An engineer by training, Habibie had worked for a German aircraft maker before he was promoted to a ministerial post by Suharto in 1978.

Responding to intercontinental criticism of Indonesia's occupation of Portugal's previous colony of East Timor, Habibie stunned Indonesians by asserting in January 1999 a approach to hold a referendum less than United Nations supervision on self-perseverance, supplying a alternative concerning specific autonomy and independence, but East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia. The territory is now an independent country called Timor-Leste.

The brief meeting took place after Habibie's funeral at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery here and was also attended by Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

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