David Shanks – A fist fight in the car-park of St Anthony's College, Oxford, over that distant land alerted me to the length of Indonesia's surveillnace shadow.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
January 3, 1998
Louise Williams, Indonesia's Finance Minister has appealed against a court decision allowing a bank controlled by President Soeharto's half-brother, Mr Probosutedjo, to remain open despite being included in the liquidation list under the International Monetary Fund's bail-out package.
January 2, 1998
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's embattled economy has suffered a further blow with the downgrading of the Government's foreign currency debt to "junk bond" status by the leading United States ratings agency Standard and Poor's.
The agency warned of the growing political risk in falling incomes and rising unemployment.
January 1, 1998
[The following is a translation of a press release sent to ASIET by the KNPD]
Conditions in Indonesia recently have become of ever more concern. The economic crisis which indicates Indonesia's fundamental economic weakness gets worse and worse. As a result the price of goods has jumped and the "little" people are the ones who must sholder all of this.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – An Indonesian court has blocked the liquidation of a bank owned by President Soeharto's half brother, Mr Probosutedjo, which was ordered closed two months ago in the first round of reforms under the International Monetary Fund's $US38 billion ($58.5 billion) rescue package.
The government of President Suharto faced a volley of criticism Monday, accused of orchestrating a bombing plot to silence dissent and blamed for the economic crisis gripping Indonesia.
December 31, 1997
The Suharto regime is entering 1998 in a state of profound crisis, unprecedented in the regime's 32-year history. During the past twelve months, the regime has suffered a number of political and economic disasters and its international reputation has been irreparably damaged.
Budiman Sudjatmiko and Petrus Heryanto, the chair and secretary-general of the PRD, the People's Democracy Party, have filed a lawsuit against Interior Minister Yogie S. Memed for dissolving and banning their party and the six organisations affiliated to it.
Semarang – Central Java Prosecutor's High Office had arrested Gil Paulo da Silva (23, an IMPETTU Solo member. He was accused of helping one East Timor "terrorist" suspected as one of the bomb-makers unintentionally exploded in Demak a few months ago. He was accused of breaking Article 169 paragraph 1 and Article 221 paragraph 1e of the Indonesian Criminal Law.
December 30, 1997
Former member of Parliament, Sri-Bintang Pamungkas, now chairperson of PUDI, the Indonesian Democratic Unity Party, walked out of the third hearing of his trial in Jakarta on Monday after the judge rejected his petition to have the prosecutor declared unsuitable to take part in the trial proceedings.
December 29, 1997
Jakarta's power elite loves to gossip about who might succeed President Suharto. The grapevine works overtime every fifth year when the Indonesian strongman prepares to go to Parliament to renew his mandate, as he must again in March.
Jakarta – Two leading scholars have blasted government officials for "burying their heads in the sand" and living in denial when faced with crises.
Sociologist Loekman Soetrisno of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and Abdurrahman Wahid of the Moslem organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) said the habit failed to solve problems.
December 28, 1997
A cultural evening entitled "Culture of the Marginalised" which was to have taken place at the office of the independent trade union, the SBSI, was broken up by police just a few minutes after it had begun. Dozens of police entered the hall. One officer yelled: 'You haven't got a permit'. All those present were then ordered to leave the hall.
December 27, 1997
The position and role of the state is the point of departure for any evaluation of human rights violations in Indonesia. Apart from elections held once every five years which give the false impression of a freedom of choice, the New Order state has no need for legitimisation, nor is it accountable to the people.
December 24, 1997
Jakarta – Human rights activists predicted yesterday that Indonesia's human rights record and legal condition would see no improvement next year.
Michael Richardson, Singapore – Indonesia's total foreign debt may amount to $200 billion, nearly double the level recorded by the government in Jakarta, according to an estimate made public Tuesday amid rising doubts about East Asia's capacity to repay loans.
Jakarta – Ousted chief of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) Megawati Soekarnoputri commemorated the fourth anniversary of her leadership yesterday, calling for immediate political reform.
In a gathering attended by 300 people at her residence in South Jakarta, Megawati also called for a stop to violations of the law.
[The following is a translation of a message sent to ASIET by the underground Peoples Democratic Party (PRD).]
To the Christian community, merry Christmas. To the Islamic community, best wishes for the month of fasting [Bulan Puasa].
The new year, 1998, will begin with a shattered myth. The so-called engine of economic growth in Asia – the "economic miracle" for the past 30 years that dazzled the developed world – is grinding to a halt.
Jonathan Head, Jakarta – An ecumenical church is Indonesia has been destroyed by a mob near the capital, Jakarta, according to church sources. This is the latest in a series of attacks on churches, which are being blamed on rising resentment among Indonesia's Muslim majority of the disproportionate wealth of many Christians.
JAKARTA – The government will launch a national drive to promote human rights protection next year as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights.
Surabaya – MateBEAN sources have tracked the identity of the four East Timor students and two other graduates kidnapped in Surabaya on Sunday 12 December 1997.
December 23, 1997
Surabaya – Unknown security officers arrested four East Timor students in Surabaya on Sunday 21 December 1997. MateBEAN source from Surabaya stated that only one out of four students was identified yet. His name is Romualdo Amaral Soares (36), a newly graduated student of ITATS Surabaya, majoring in industrial management.
Jakarta – Two alleged East Timor rebels were killed in armed fighting with Indonesian troops in the former Portuguese colony, reports said today.
Lieutenant Colonel Supadi, chief of East Timor's Ermera military district, said the two, killed on Saturday, were identified as Agustinho Mounsinho, 21, and Agustinho Coan, 24.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesian Vice-President General Try Sutrisno has "banned" women from going on lavish foreign shopping expeditions during the country's economic crisis.
The Minister for Women's Affairs, Mien Sugandhi, quoted General Sutrisno as saying foreign shopping jaunts were a "no go".
Jakarta – President Soeharto said yesterday rumors that his health was failing, he was dead, or that the Armed Forces were planning a coup, were aimed at destabilizing the economy and toppling the government.
December 22, 1997
Jakarta – Four East Timorese rebels convicted in a grenade attack that killed 17 Indonesian security agents were sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.
Jakarta – Indonesia President Suharto, in a meeting with the nation's top business leaders Monday, said the central bank has spent 10% of its reserves, or $2 billion, intervening on behalf of the nation's currency in recent months.
He added, however, that the $18 billion remaining in reserves is enough to cover 4.5 months of imports.
Manatuto – A Red Beret military unit, infamously known as Kopassus had arbitrarily arrested Elias Soares (18), on 8 December 1997, with no clear reasons at all. The primary school graduate from Vemassa Sub-district, Bacau, was on his way from Vemassa to Dili. Until MateBEAN posted the news today, there was still no clues of his whereabouts and destiny.
Lisbon – Indonesian secret police have arrested five East Timorese university students in Surabaya, Java, on suspicion of supporting the pro-independence Socialist Association of Timor, the group said today.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's financial markets are showing the first signs of stability in three weeks, giving the Government a much-needed chance to regain its management credibility with the annual Budget to be delivered in the first week of January.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Soeharto has dismissed half the directors of the country's central bank and established a group of private sector advisers amid a growing struggle over economic policy.
Journalists and activists who attended a press conference which had been called to announce the results of a referendum held by the Gajah Mada University student body were disappointed and angry when they were told that the results would after all not be announced. The committee which had organised the event asked the journalists 'to understand' their position.
14,000 troops are being mobilised to secure the capital in a special operation over the coming holidays. Ten thousand of the troops will be from the police and the remaining four thousand from the army.
Jember – The Association of East Timor Students (IMPETTU) declared their support for East Timor Reconciliation and Unity Movement, GRPRTT. All IMPETTU chairmen signed the declaration in Jember, on 10 December 1997. Around four hundred East Timor students attended the announcement of the declaration.
Human Rights Watch strongly protests the eight-year sentence handed down on December 18 to Indonesian human rights activist Agustiana bin Suryana after he was convicted of subversion by a court in Tasikmalaya, West Java.
As fears grow over the health of Indonesia's President Soeharto, so does talk of who may succeed him. David Jenkins look at who's who among the likely contenders.
When Indonesians talk about General Wiranto, the army chief whose effortless ascendancy coincides with deepening fears about the post-Soeharto future, they make little attempt to disguise their admiration.
Jay Solomon and Kate Linebaugh, Jakarta – Indonesian President Suharto Monday decided on a reshuffle at the country's central bank, reasserting control over economic policy following nearly a two-week absence from his daily duties due to ill-health.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – It's close to 3am and business is brisk behind the heavy velvet curtain shielding the back room from the jarring beat on the crowded dance floor of one of Jakarta's most expensive night clubs.
Baucau – The Baucau District Court in East Timor has passed jail terms on three local youths found to have committed a subversive act against the Indonesian government. The three youths are Muhammad Amin, 19, Fortunato Ximenes, 31, and Alvino Freitas, 19. All of them have been sentenced to 17 years in prison minus their detention time.
December 21, 1997
Surabaya – In anticipation of the Session of the MPR in March next year, the Information Minister General (ret'd) Hartono said that he has issued strong warnings to fifteen newspapers about their reporting of news.
December 20, 1997
More than ten thousand students at Yogyakarta's prestigious Gadjah Mada University have expressed the view that Suharto should not be nominated as president at next year's MPR session.
Louise Williams – Food stocks in drought-stricken regions of Irian Jaya are almost exhausted and up to 20 per cent of the population of some villages has already died, according to the latest report on the famine by the Australian Red Cross.
December 19, 1997
Tasikmalaya – The district court in Tasiklamaya has passed a savage sentence of eight years on an activist from Garut named Agustiana who was accused of being the brains behind the riots that struck Tasikmalaya in West Java on 26 December last year.
December 18, 1997
Sander Thoenes – The prospect of a sixth smooth re-election of President Suharto next year was put in doubt this week when a leading party failed to nominate him and a group of retired generals called for a new president.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – As the Indonesian government ventures to overcome the current monetary crisis, rumours have started to circulate widely of an impending military coup in connection with the health of Indonesia's strong man, President Suharto.
A new, openly dissident movement has sprung up within East Timor. If Manuel Carrascalao's Movement for Reconciliation and Unity of the People of Timor (GRPRTT) is as serious about its mission as it claims to be, it will represent a brave new initiative.
It comes from an unexpected corner. Manuel Carrascalao once actively supported East Timor's integration with Indonesia.
Jakarta – President Soeharto found it extremely difficult to understand why the rupiah had continued to fall against the U.S. dollar, a senior minister said yesterday.
Jakarta – Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana threw in the towel in the race for the vice presidency yesterday, saying she was not capable of carrying out the second top position.
The eldest daughter of President Soeharto said on the sidelines of the People's Consultative Assembly meeting that the nation needs a person of high quality for its vice president.
Darwin – Six East Timorese who have sought refuge in the Austrian embassy in Jakarta, since September 19, are in danger of being handed over to the Indonesian authorities.
Handwritten messages, smuggled out, have been received, here in Darwin, from the East Timorese holed up in the Austrian embassy, asking for help in the form of pressures to the Austrian government.