BJ Habibie, who oversaw Indonesia’s 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

Habibie was a close aide of Suharto's, and was his deputy when the leader was forced to step down after more than 3 decades in power.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets of the capital Jakarta to watch the motorcade carrying the body of Indonesia's third president to the Kalibata heroes' cemetery. But there are a couple of things that make Habibie an "unusual" president in the political history of Indonesia.

Responding to worldwide criticism of Indonesia's occupation of Portugal's former colony of East Timor, Habibie surprised Indonesians by announcing in January 1999 a plan to hold a referendum under United Nations supervision on self-determination, offering a choice between special autonomy and independence. His wife, Hasri Ainun Habibie, a medical doctor, died in 2010.

Indonesian militias deployed terror tactics to intimidate people into voting for continued union, but East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia.

Jokowi is scheduled to lead the funeral ceremony of BJ Habibie at the Kalibata Heroes' Cemetery, Jakarta, on Thursday, at 1:30 p.m. local time.

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. He wrote on Facebook that Habibie will be remembered for leading Indonesia during a hard period.

Elfien said that that Dirgantara wanted to continue Habibie's legacy by finishing the certification of its latest model, the 19-person capacity N219, by the end of this year.

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Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of neighbouring Malaysia, posted his condolences on Twitter and said the death of Habibie was a "big loss".

Suharto asked him to help industrialise the country. Despite his reforms, his presidency ended after only 17 months in October 1999, when he withdrew from contention in the presidential election.

"He added, "'I said... they have vision.

He ordered the release of political prisoners, dismantled restrictions on the press and reformed politics to allow for free elections.

As president, Habibie apologized for past human rights abuses and outlined an eight-point reform program "to build a just, open and democratic society". Habibie was born in June 1936 in a small town in South Sulawesi, and studied aviation and aerospace engineering in Germany and the Netherlands before returning home in the mid-1970s.

Habibie, concurrently ex-research and technology minister, is survived by his two sons: Ilham Akbar and Thareq Kemal.

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