It may not seem to be a privileged position, but the House speaker is the key to who could succeed Suharto, writes The Nation's Andreas Harsono.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
September 17, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto has publicly apologised to Indonesia's neighbours over thousands of forest fires which have sent a thick haze of smoke as far north as Kuala Lumpur, exposing tens of millions of people to dangerous levels of air pollution.
Ujung Pandang – Streets in the city of Ujung Pandang were quiet Wednesday, after security forces managed to quell two days of anti-Chinese rioting, a human rights group said.
Schools, shops and offices were closed in the provincial capital, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) northeast of the national capital, Jakarta.
Muklis Ali, Jakarta – Indonesia announced deep, wide-ranging spending cuts and delays in major projects on Tuesday to help cope with currency and share market upheavals.
Finance Minister Mar'ie Muhammad told a parliamentary commission that projects worth some 39 trillion rupiah ($13 billion) would be postponed, and projects worth 63 trillion rupiah would be reviewed.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – More than 200 Chinese-owned shops and dozens of vehicles were damaged in an riot which broke out in the capital of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province yesterday after an ethnic Chinese man hacked an indigenous Bugis girl to death with a machete.
September 16, 1997
[The following is a slightly abridged translation of a press release sent to ASIET by the National Committee of Democratic Struggle (KNPD, Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi) in support of the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Student Action Council (Aksi Dewan Mahasiswa Universitas).]
Batam – A Batam company is selling large quantities of water daily to Singapore even though the island is suffering from a water shortage, an Indonesian newspaper has reported.
Jakarta – Mobs stoned shops owned by ethnic Chinese and burned cars in the capital of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province on Tuesday after a young girl was hacked to death, police said.
They said the rioting was sparked after an ethnic Chinese man killed a girl from the local Bugis community in the provincial capital Ujung Pandang on Monday night.
Jakarta – Indonesia abruptly shifted an ASEAN environmental meeting opening on Tuesday to Jakarta from remote Sulawesi due to smoke haze causing a pollution emergency over parts of Southeast Asia.
Indonesia's President Suharto was officially opening the meeting of environment ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – Big spending cuts unveiled in Indonesia on Tuesday will severely affect President Suharto's family, among the most sheltered members of the country's business elite, economists said.
September 15, 1997
[The following is slightly abridged translation of a statement sent to ASIET by the underground Peoples' Democratic Party (PRD)]
Muchtar Pakpahan, 43, is the president of the Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBSI), an independent trade union in Indonesia founded in 1992 that presently has 250,000 members. Pakpahan was arrested on 29 July 1996 and initially charged with subversion for his alleged involvement in the 27 July 1996 opposition demonstration.
September 14, 1997
Two books have just been launched about journalists victimized by the Indonesian law on the freedom of the press. Terbunuhnya Udin (The Murder of Udin) details the death of Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (known as Udin), who worked for the Yogyakarta-based daily newspaper Bernas.
September 13, 1997
The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in March next year will be entirely predictable. The president may have made his peace with the armed forces and thus expect a smooth ride. However, as the crucial MPR session approaches, when Suharto will be appointed president for probably the last time, nothing is left to chance.
September 12, 1997
A strange hysteria has spread through Central Java since last April, leading villagers to beat up people at night they suspect of being zombies (hantu pocong, the walking dead). Four people died in July, and more have been taken to hospital with serious injuries before and since. The incidents began shortly before the parliamentary elections and continue until the present day.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Five years after his capture in the jungle by Indonesian troops, the jailed East Timorese independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, is still fighting his war.
Dili, East Timor – East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares on Thursday turned down South African President Nelson Mandela's call to award special autonomy to the Indonesia's27th province.
"We must ask ourselves whether or not we are ready to be autonomous. In fact, nearly 99 percent of East Timor's development budget comes from the central government," Abilio said.
September 11, 1997
Lisbon – Portugal's foreign ministry in Lisbon on Wednesday accused the Indonesian government of "rejecting once again any positive evaluation of the situation" in East Timor.
New York – Portugal has formally denounced a new agreement between Australia and Indonesia on the "permanent" demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the Timor Sea.
A United Nations document on the matter was obtained by LUSA in New York on Wednesday.
Dili – A government official from East Timor province is convinced that East Timor is open to foreign journalists who attempt to cover the area, a member of local House Representative, Florentino, said here Thursday.
A North Sumatran network of NGOs has sued the local police for banning its Annual General Meeting in June this year. The police accused the organisers of failing to obtain a police permit for the meeting, even though according to a recent regulation, no permit was needed.
Jakarta – Indonesia's president might not attend an Asia-Pacific leaders' summin in Canada in November because of possible protests over his country's human rights record in the troubled territory of East Timor, the foreign minister said Wednesday.
September 10, 1997
Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – Indonesia can consider releasing East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao but only as part of a comprehensive solution on the troubled territory, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said on Wednesday.
Jakarta – The Indonesian Navy is planning to purchase five modern submarines from Germany, Navy chief of staff, Admiral Arief Kushariadi, said after inaugurating a telecommunication post here Tuesday.
Indonesians living in the Eastern part of the country are more likely to die at birth; not be able to read; and have no access to safe water than their fellow indonesians living on the islands of Java and Sumatra, according to a new government report. Jenny Grant reports from Jakarta.
Jim Della-Giacoma, Gelumbang – Dusk comes an hour early each day in this part of Indonesia's Sumatra island as a pall of smoke rising from a patchwork of grass and scrub fires blankets the region and neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.
Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – Indonesian President Suharto might stay away from the November APEC leaders' meeting if Canadian authorities could not guarantee control of demonstrations over East Timor, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said today.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesia must be led by a former member of the military until the year 2005, according to a top analysts.
Juwono Sudarsono, vice-governor of the National Resilience Institute, a military think-tank, said civilian bureaucrats were "lazy" and "not qualified" to lead the country.
Associated Press, Jakarta – Worried about a constant smoke haze hanging over his country and its neighbours, President Suharto yesterday imposed an immediate ban on lighting fires to clear forest land.
Environment Minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja said Mr Suharto had ordered plantation companies to stop all land clearing.
September 9, 1997
Jakarta – The Indonesian House of Representatives yesterday passed a package of four Bills on security and defence which, among others, authorizes the President to mobilise citizens for war. The Bills are on military tribunal, mobilisation and demobilization, military discipline, and police.
Johannesburg – South African President Nelson Mandela said on Tuesday the former Portuguese colony of East Timor should be awarded autonomy from Indonesia to end conflict over the territory.
September 6, 1997
One of the most disappointing developments during the visit to Indonesia last month of the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, was the cancellation of his meeting with ailing independent trade union leader, Muchtar Pakpahan. Had this taken place, this would have been the only public display of support for a victim of human rights violations by the Indonesian regime.
During his visit to Indonesia on 29-30 August 1997, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook held a meeting with representatives of four Indonesian human rights NGOs. The meeting was extremely brief. Originally, it was to have lasted half an hour but this was reduced to fifteen minutes. Even so, Robin Cook arrived late.
September 5, 1997
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – A little-known politician has nominated herself as a presidential candidate to run against President Suharto in elections next March.
Berar Fathia, 43, a former member of the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), yesterday said she had enough support to run as a candidate.
[The following is an abridged translation of a statement dated September 2, 1997, by the Department of Education and Culture, Syiah Kuala University Student Senate posted by SiaR. The title was the translator's choice.]
Jakarta – Indonesian Environment Minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja has identified three local firms that cleared land for agriculture through illegal burning, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Friday.
Ian Mcphedran – A leading Indonesian pro-democracy campaigner has called on Australia to sever military ties with his country and to grant refugee status to East Timorese asylum-seekers.
Sarah Davison, Hong Kong – Concern is mounting that Indonesian corporations will soon hit a debt wall despite Thursday's rate cut, worsening the outlook for the nation once credited with Southeast Asia's most credible currency policy.
September 4, 1997
John McBeth, Jakarta – President Suharto has a host of family concerns riding on Indonesia's first broadcasting law. Between them, the president's eldest daughter, Siti Hardijanti "Tutut" Rukmana, son Bambang Trihatmodjo and Bambang's wife, Halimah, own chunks of four of the country's five private television channels.
Unlike the pervasive haze in 1994 which trapped Singapore in a suffocating day-long twilight, the island has so far been spared the worst of this year's seasonal nuisance. Road and air visibility has not been impaired too badly, and those with respiratory complaints have not reported anything untoward.
Jakarta – East Timor governor Abilio Soares, who once escaped an assassination attempt by suspected rebels in the troubled former Portuguese colony, was re-elected to office on Thursday, a local legislator said.
Jakarta – The wife of murdered journalist Fuad Syarifuddin yesterday testified that police were holding the wrong man.
The Indonesian government has threatened to expose the names of logging and plantation companies that are lighting fires to clear land on the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra. Jenny Grant reports from Jakarta, smoke from the fires is a health hazard affecting neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.
Jakarta – Indonesia has agreed to purchase 12 Sukhoi 30K jetfighters and 8 MI-17-IV helicopters from Russia at a total cost of US$ 500 million, while Russia has agreed to purchase from Indonesia 40 kinds of commodities, also worth US$ 500 million, to be paid in cash under a counter-purchase agreement.
September 3, 1997
K.T. Arasu, Jakarta – Indonesia unveiled a package of measures on Wednesday to prevent the world's fourth most populous country from plunging into financial crisis amid regional currency turbulence.
Singapore – The Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) here said Wednesday it had cancelled a planned forum with Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri at the request of Singapore authorities.
David Brough, Lisbon – South Africa would welcome the release of jailed Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao before a state visit by Indonesian President Suharto in November, South Africa's ambassador to Portugal Kingsley Makubela said.
Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – The Indonesian government, threatening legal action, has blamed plantation firms for the country's forest fires which have caused haze to envelope the region.
Laurinda Keys, Singapore – A foreign correspondent's association confirmed Wednesday that it had canceled a planned speech by an Indonesian opposition leader at the request of Singapore's government.
September 2, 1997
Macau – East Timor's political party Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) rejected on Tuesday in "absolut and vehemently" the recent statements by guerrilla leader Konis Santana who said the territory's resistance could accept the relationship Puerto Rico has with the United States as a model for future ties between the former Portuguese colony and Indonesia.