Try Sutrisno

Try Sutrisno (Indonesian pronunciation: [tri sutrisnɔ]; born 15 November 1935) is an Indonesian politician and retired army general who served as the country's sixth vice president. He held the office from 11 March 1993 to 11 March 1998. Previously, he served as the Commander of the Republic of Indonesia Armed Forces for five years.

Try Sutrisno
Official portrait, 1993
6th Vice President of Indonesia
In office
11 March 1993  11 March 1998
Preceded bySudharmono
Succeeded byB. J. Habibie
9th Commander of the Republic of Indonesia Armed Forces
In office
27 February 1988  19 February 1993
Preceded byL. B. Moerdani
Succeeded byEdi Sudradjat
15th Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army
In office
7 June 1986  2 February 1988
Preceded byRudini
Succeeded byEdi Sudradjat
Personal details
Born (1935-11-15) 15 November 1935
Soerabaja, Dutch East Indies
Political partyIndonesian Justice and Unity Party (1999–present)
Other political
Golkar Party (1993–1999)
Tuti Sutiawati
(m. 1961)
ProfessionMilitary (retired)
Military service
Allegiance Indonesia
Branch/service Indonesian Army
Years of service1959–1993
Rank General
Commands16th Military Regional Command Udayana
4th Military Regional Command Sriwijaya
Jayakarta Regional Command
The Indonesian National Armed Forces
Battles/warsPRRI Rebellion
Insurgency in East Timor
Insurgency in Aceh

Early life

Try Sutrisno was born on 15 November 1935 in Soerabaia (Surabaya), now of East Java. His father, Subandi, was an ambulance driver, and his mother, Mardiyah, was a housewife. After the Indonesian Proclamation of Independence in 1945, the Dutch returned to reclaim Indonesia as their colony. Try and his family moved from Surabaya to Mojokerto. His father worked as a medical officer for the Poncowati Army Battalion, forcing Try to stop his schooling and make a living as a cigarette and newspaper seller.

At age 13, Try wanted to join the Poncowati Battalion and fight, but no one took him seriously, and he ended up being employed as a courier.[1] Try's duty was to find information on areas occupied by the Dutch Army as well as retrieving medicine for the Indonesian Army. Finally in 1949, the Dutch retreated and recognized Indonesia's independence. Try and his family then returned to Surabaya, where he completed his education in 1956.

After graduating from high school, Try wanted to enlist in ATEKAD (Army Technical Academy, later merged into the Indonesian Military Academy or Akmil). He passed an entrance examination but then failed the physical examination. Despite this, Major General Djatikoesoemo took interest in Try and summoned him back. Try participated in a psychological examination in Bandung, West Java, and was then accepted into the ATEKAD as a cadet.

Military career

Early military career

Try's first Military experience was in 1957, when he fought against the PRRI Rebellion. The rebellion was led by a group of separatists in Sumatra wishing to establish an alternative Government to that of President Sukarno's. Try completed his military education in 1959, when he graduated from ATEKAD and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Indonesian Army.

Try's early experience in the ABRI included stints in Sumatra, Jakarta, and East Java. In 1972, Try was sent to the Army Staff College (Seskoad). In 1974, Try was chosen to be President Suharto's adjutant. Suharto took a liking to Try and from then on, Try's military career would skyrocket.

KODAM XVI/Udayana and KODAM IV/Sriwijaya

In 1978, Try was appointed to the position of Regional Command Chief of Staff at KODAM XVI/Udayana. A year later, he would become the Regional Commander of KODAM IV/Sriwijaya, where he had started his career. As Regional Commander, Try moved to suppress the crime rate as well as stopping lead smuggling. He even participated in an environmental campaign to return Sumatran elephants to their natural habitats.[2]

KODAM V/Jaya and Tanjung Priok Incident

In 1982, Try was appointed to the Regional Commander of KODAM V/Jaya and was stationed in Jakarta.

1984 would see the Government pass a law which required all organizations whether it be political or non-political to adopt the national ideology of Pancasila as the sole guiding principle (Azas Tunggal). It would also see Islamic dissent reached its peak as preachers began teaching against the adoption of Pancasila as the national ideology, what they perceived to be the Government's Christianization, the Government's family planning program, and the dominance of the Indonesian Economy by the Chinese Indonesian population.[3]

On 7 September 1984, Sgt. Hermanu, running on an inspection run in North Jakarta, came across a mosque with leaflets which asked for women to wear the hijab. This was a leaflet which encouraged Muslims who read it to defy the Government's policy of discouraging women from wearing the hijab. Sergeant Hermanu asked for the leaflets to be taken down but his orders were not followed.

The next day, Hermanu returned and stuck papers washed in dirty water over the leaflets to cover it up. Somehow a rumor began going around that Hermanu had defiled the Mosque by going into the prayer hall without taking his shoes off.[3] This caused a lot of outrage and Hermanu's motorbike was burned. The Army then returned to arrest the 4 youths who burned the motorbike.

Over the next few days there were protests asking for the release of the 4 youths and preachers took advantage of the situation to preach against the Government. Finally on 12 September 1984, the crowd at Tanjung Priok began attacking shops owned by Chinese Indonesians as well as going after the headquarters of the North Jakarta District Military Command (KODIM).

Try, together with ABRI Commander, Benny Moerdani agreed that troops should be deployed to contain the rioters. The riot continued to get worse, according to the soldiers, the mob refused to heed the warning shots and continued charging at them with machetes and sickles.[3] Finally the troops were forced to open fire. The Government claimed that 28 people were killed but the victims continued to insist that around 700 were killed. This episode would continue to haunt Try for the rest of his career.

Deputy Army Chief of Staff and Army Chief of Staff

Try's career continued to advance. In 1985, he became Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, before becoming the Chief of Staff of the Army himself in 1986. As Army Chief of Staff, Try started the Badan TWP TNI-AD (Army Board of Compulsory Saving for Housing) to make it easier for Army servicemen to finance their own housing needs.

ABRI Commander and Dili Massacre

Try finally reached the pinnacle of his Military career in 1988, when he was appointed ABRI Commander to replace Moerdani. As ABRI Commander, Try spent a lot of time putting down rebellions all around Indonesia. His immediate target was the separatists in Aceh, which he successfully suppressed by 1992. In 1989, there was the Talangsari incident, in which Try repeated his actions in 1984 by cracking down on Islamist protesters.

In November 1991, in the then Province of East Timor, a group of students attending the funeral of a fellow student who had been shot dead by Indonesian troops took the opportunity to launch protests against the Indonesian occupation. At the funeral procession, students unfurled banners calling for self-determination and independence, displaying pictures of the independence leader Xanana Gusmão. As the procession entered the cemetery, Indonesian troops opened fire. Of the people demonstrating in the cemetery, 271 were killed, 382 wounded, and 250 disappeared.

The incident, known as the Dili Massacre, provoked worldwide condemnation from the international community. Try said two days after the massacre: "The army cannot be underestimated. Finally we had to shoot them. Delinquents like these agitators must be shot, and they will be....".[4] Try was then invited to speak before the People's Representative Council (DPR) to explain himself. Try gave a defense of his decision and maintained that the protesters were provoking the soldiers and that claims that the protests were peaceful was "bullshit".[5]

Try was discharged from his position as ABRI Commander in February 1993.

Vice president


Try Sutrisno takes the oath of office on 11 March 1993 at a session of the People's Consultative Assembly.

In February 1993, the same month that Try was discharged from his position and a month before the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) was due to meet to elect a new president and Vice President, MPR members from ABRI nominated Try to be the Vice President. Technically speaking, MPR faction members were allowed to nominate their candidates for vice president. But the unwritten rule in Suharto's regime had been to wait for the President to nominate his chosen candidate.

Members from the United Development Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party quickly approved of Try's nomination as Golkar struggled in telling its members that Golkar had not nominated Try as vice president. Suharto was reportedly angry that he had been pre-empted by the armed forces[6] but did not want an open dispute with its delegation in the assembly. Suharto finally accepted Try and Golkar tried to play down the pre-emption by saying it had let the other parties and ABRI nominate their vice presidential candidates.[7]

ABRI had gotten their revenge from the 1988 MPR General Session when Suharto chose Sudharmono, someone who the ABRI did not like as the Vice President. Defense Minister Benny Moerdani was determined that ABRI would choose a vice president for Suharto in the 1993 MPR General Session.

It was speculated that had he not been pre-empted, Suharto would have either elected B. J. Habibie as his vice president or re-elected Sudharmono.

Vice Presidency

Although he had accepted Try as vice president, Suharto's displeasure at having a vice president he did not ask for shone through as ABRI members within the Cabinet were kept to a bare minimum. For Try himself, Suharto showed little regard and did not even consult him in the cabinet formation process.

Another show of disregard came in late 1997 when Suharto had to go to Germany to receive health treatment. Instead of leaving Try to execute Presidential duties, Suharto ordered State Secretary Moerdiono to come to his residence to receive Presidential duties.[8]

Post Vice Presidency

In May 1998, on the eve of Suharto's fall, Try, together with Umar Wirahadikusumah and Sudharmono visited Suharto at his residence to discuss possible options.

In 1998, Try was elected to become the Chairman of the ABRI Veterans' Union (Pepabri). He successfully kept Pepabri united as one under his Chairmanship despite the prevalent mood at the time that each branch of the Armed Forces gets their own veterans' union. Try completed his term in this position in 2003.

Try also served as Party Elder for General Edi Sudrajat's Justice and Unity Party.

In August 2005, Try, together with Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Wiranto, and Akbar Tanjung formed a forum called the National Awakening to Unity Movement (Gerakan Nusantara Bangkit Bersatu). This forum criticized Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Government for its memorandum of understanding with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). This was followed in September 2005 with a criticism of Yudhoyono's decision to raise fuel prices.

Try somewhat softened his stance with the Government after a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla in September 2005. Kalla was sent to explain the reasoning behind the policies taken towards GAM and raising fuel prices. At the end of the meeting, Try said that he can understand the Government's position and encouraged the people to back the Government in their decisions.[9]


Try is married to Tuti Sutiawati, with whom he has 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters.


National honours

Foreign honours


  1. "Try Sutrisno". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2006.
  2. "Try Sutrisno, 6th Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia". Retrieved 28 October 2006.
  3. "Kasus-Kasus Pelanggaran Berat HAM: Tragedi Tanjung Priok". Komisi Kebenaran dan Rekonsiliasi. Archived from the original on 28 June 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2006.
  4. Quoted in Carey, p. 52. A slightly different wording ("...and we will shoot them") is quoted in Jardine, p. 17.
  5. "Timor: Try Sutrisno's Bullshit". Indonesia Publications/Taskforce. Archived from the original on 17 September 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2006.
  6. Lane, Max (24 February 1993). "Suharto vs. ABRI at MPR – 1". Green Left. Archived from the original on 15 September 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2006.
  7. "Soeharto Picks Try As V–P". Radio Republik Indonesia. 28 February 1993. Archived from the original on 17 September 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2006.
  8. "" Wapres Hanya Ban Serep Yang Tak Terpakai " (The Vice President Is Only An Unused Spare Tire")". Tempo. 2 January 1998. Archived from the original on 17 September 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2006.
  9. ""Usai Dikritik, Wapres Kalla Temui Try " (After Being Criticized, Vice President Kalla Meets With Try)". Pikiran Rakyat. 25 September 2005. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2006.
  10. Daftar WNI yang Menerima Tanda Kehormatan Bintang Republik Indonesia 1959 – sekarang (PDF). Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  11. Daftar WNI yang Mendapat Tanda Kehormatan Bintang Mahaputera tahun 1959 s.d. 2003 (PDF). Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  12. "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
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