The progression in Indonesia has been inexorable: economic hard times, then social unrest, heightened political dissent and, finally, official repression. As impassioned student demonstrations have spread across the country's campuses, nearly 400 activists have been arrested since January.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
April 20, 1998
Jakarta – Intellectuals are calling on students to continue with their struggle for political and economic reforms, lending greater weight to a youth movement that has grown into a formidable force over recent months.
Terry Mccarthy, Jakarta – Pramoedya Ananta Toer was perhaps the only writer in Indonesia who got the joke. Last month the Jakarta Arts Council announced the results of a nationwide writing competition: the 94 entries were so uniformly bad that the judges had refused to award anyone the first prize.
David Jenkins, Jakarta – A prominent Indonesian political activist who disappeared from a Jakarta hotel in suspicious circumstances nearly six week ago has turned up In Surabaya, 670 kilometres east of the capital, in equally mysterious circumstances.
Huge areas of East Kalimantan have gone up in flames this year. This part of the island of Borneo was not badly affected by the fires last year. But, while there has been heavy rainfall in other parts of Kalimantan and in Sumatra earlier this year, the weather in East Kalimantan has been dry since early January.
Susan Sim, Jakarta – More than a third of Indonesia's 36-member Cabinet turned up for the marathon talks, but a third of their main dialogue partners – the student leaders who have been organising increasingly vociferous campus protests – declined to come.
April 19, 1998
"You only live once and must take a stand". This was Andi Arief's motto, an activist who was reported to have "disappeared" several months ago. In his daily life, as a political science graduate from the Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Central Java, he always took a stand.
Jakarta – Forest fires raging in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province have killed substantial insect life, posing a problem to forest rehabilitation, the official Antara news agency reported on Sunday.
"The disappearance of insects poses a problem to the rehabilitation of burnt forests," the agency said quoting a study by Abubakar Lahji of Mulawarman University.
April 18, 1998
Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Indonesian students launched a full-blown attack on the government during a rare dialogue with cabinet ministers on Saturday, accusing President Suharto of failing to respect the people's desires.
The army is being wrongly blamed for the disappearance of opposition figures, a senior officer tells Asia Editor David Jenkins in Jakarta.
Jakarta – Huge numbers of students in many cities were kept up their fervent protests for lower prices and sweeping reforms yesterday with housewives in one city helping to boost the rallies.
Daily student protests against Indonesia's government have rocked campuses across the country for the last two months. Jenny Grant, in Jakarta, looks at what impact the demonstrations might have on a country in the midst of an economic crisis.
The theme and the scope of the students rally extended. The Minister of Education and Culture was criticized and demonstration is beginning to stray out of campus peripherals.
April 17, 1998
Geoffrey Barker – Australia has lodged two angry high-level diplomatic protests with Jakarta following disclosures that the Indonesian Vice-President, Dr J.B. Habibie, backed Malaysia's veto on Australian membership of the Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM).
Serang, West Java – President Soeharto gave clear-cut guidelines yesterday for field security officials dealing with unruly student demonstrations, including the use of "repressive measures" in emergency situations.
Jakarta – Be careful if you take a taxi. Many disguised ABRI (armed forces) intelligence agents are becoming taxi drivers. The drivers job is to draw their passengers into conversation and if their views are anti-government, take them to the police.
April 16, 1998
Jakarta – Thousands of students kept up their demands for reforms and lower prices of basic commodities yesterday in on-campus rallies organized concurrently at dozens of universities.
At least four campuses here witnessed noisy rallies demanding a reshuffle of the cabinet, clean government, lower prices of commodities and the empowerment of the. House of Representatives.
By Gwen Robinson in Jakarta and John Authers in New York
Negotiations on resolving Indonesia's massive private foreign debt overhang began yesterday in New York against a backdrop of confusion in Jakarta and growing division in the camps of both international lenders and their Indonesian debtors.
Macau – Three leaders of the Movement for the Reunification and Unity of the People of East Timor (MRUPTL) have been subpoenaed by the Indonesian police to be interrogated on Thursday.
Hundreds of East Timorese students demonstrated at the Semarang district court as the trial of four East Timorese was underway. They demanded that the four men be freed.
For the second time running, the prosecutor was unable to present Constancio da Costa as a witness to testify at the trial. He said this was for security reasons and in consideration of the costs.
Jakarta – Students from universities of whole Jakarta-Bogor-Tangerang and Bekasi (Jabotabek) all at once held a peaceful demonstration in 30 campuses. Besides holding a free speech forum in each of their campuses a part of them went down to the road to merge with the actions which took place at the surrounding campuses.
Jakarta – The ousted leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), Megawati Soekarnoputri, said yesterday she would not attend the party congress planned by rival faction leader Soerjadi in June, and would hold her own in December.
April 14, 1998
Jakarta - Beyond any expectations, the total number of activists which have disappeared since April is estimated to have reached 50. This was announced by the chair of the Indonesian Legal Aid foundation (YLBHI), Bambang Widjojanto on Tuesday (14/4) based on a report from LBH offices in different parts of Indonesia.
April 13, 1998
Jakarta – Fires have ravaged more than 224,000 ha of forest in the drought-stricken Indonesian province of East Kalimantan since the beginning of the year, reports said yesterday.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – He was standing on the edge of the crowded footpath, peering into the stream of crawling Jakarta traffic for his bus when they came for him: four burly, silent men appearing suddenly, two at each side.
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – Members of the U.S. Congress home for Easter recess and wanting to gauge American views on the Asian economic bailout might well hear concerns about the price of french fries at a Jakarta McDonald's. Or the cost of a Washington state apple at a central Java supermarket.
April 12, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto has held talks with 32 youth organisations linked to a group affiliated with the ruling Golkar party, the official Antara news agency reported on Sunday.
April 11, 1998
Andrew Higgins, West Java – Wood huts scattered around fields of rice are a long way from the haggling between the International Monetary Fund and the technocrats of President Soeharto.
April 10, 1998
Amy Chew, Jakarta – Indonesia's flirtation with a currency board system to prop up its ailing rupiah failed to carry through to reforms agreed by the government and the International Monetary Fund to tackle the country's economic crisis.
No memorandums have been signed, no handshakes photographed. But after a bitter face-off over what prescription is right for Indonesia's beleaguered economy, Jakarta and the International Monetary Fund seem to have stopped colliding and started cooperating.
Nelson Graves, Kuala Lumpur – Indonesian immigrants seeking political asylum forced their way into four foreign embassy compounds in the Malaysian capital on Friday, diplomats and police said.
Malaysian police quickly removed the immigrants from the French and Swiss embassies and Brunei's diplomatic office in Kuala Lumpur, diplomats and police told Reuters.
April 9, 1998
Christine T. Tjandraningsih, Jakarta – As part of its efforts to implement a new package of economic reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Indonesian government will announce several new measures in the next few weeks, according to a draft Indonesia-IMF memorandum.
Jakarta – Indonesia's wildfires are being blamed for endangering wildlife, forcing airports to close and costing already struggling Southeastern Asian industries millions of dollars.
Jakarta – Ten out of at least 21 people reported missing have returned, but the whereabouts of the rest are still unknown, reports said yesterday.
Those accounted for were eight students who went missing following a clash between protesters and security personnel in Yogyakarta last week, another student and a lawyer from Jakarta.
April 8, 1998
It has been confirmed that Desmond Mahesa, Director of the Nusantara Legal Aid Institute, Jakarta, and Pius Lustrilanag, Secretary-general of Aldera, who have been missing since 3 February, are now back home with their families. Desmond has returned to Banjarmasin and Pius has returned to Palembang, South Sumatra.
Andrew Higgins in Jakarta on the tycoon who plays golf with Suharto and keeps a firm grip on Indonesia's timber industry
Jakarta – The following is a chronology of Indonesia's financial crisis and political developments in the country the last eight months.
July 8 - The rupiah starts to crumble. Jakarta widens its rupiah trading band to 12 from eight percent.
Jakarta - East Timorese were suffering the affects of a prolonged drought, but claims that residents of the former Portuguese colony were facing "mass starvation" were false, the territory's Indonesian-appointed governor said on Wednesday.
April 7, 1998
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – President Suharto's youngest son is putting US$60,000 into a corn growing scheme in eastern Indonesia in the first family's latest project to alleviate the monetary crisis.
Hutomo Mandala Putra, estimated to be worth about US$600 million, is sponsoring a scheme for farmers in East Nusa Tenggara to grow corn, cassava and soya beans.
Jakarta – A top military commander has accused East Timorese separatists of infiltrating student protests to stir up anti-government sentiment, the official Antara news agency reported Tuesday.
Cindy Shiner, Nunukan Timur Island – Kris Enakobun left behind a life of crime working for a Jakarta gangster eight years ago for a better living in neighboring Malaysia, a journey taken by more than a million other Indonesians.
Jakarta – A town in Central Java province was placed under curfew after hundreds of residents went on the rampage to protest against what they said was a rigged election of a village chief, a report said. The Indonesian Observer yesterday said 10 people were being treated in hospital after Saturday's rioting in the village of Grogol.
April 6, 1998
The global business empire of Indonesia's first family and friends represent an intricate web of connections and concessions. George J. Aditjondro looks at how being in with President Soeharto can pay off.
Marian Wilkinson and Minh Bui – While the Indonesian economy continues to shudder and Western diplomats debate how to dismantle the country's unique style of crony capitalism, a select group of Australia's farmers and businessmen is locked into the vast financial empire of President Soeharto's family and close friends.
An expected IMF deal leaves him plenty of maneuvering room It's a confrontation that has pitted the might of the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund against an ailing dictator and his clique. Now, this battle between the IMF and Indonesian President Suharto may be ending, thanks to compromise by both sides. But on balance, the old man comes out the winner.
Michael Richardson, Singapore – By taking control of 14 troubled banks, the Indonesian government is walking a fine line between backing a reform of the banking system that won't undermine public confidence and causing a damaging run on financial institutions, analysts said Sunday.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Automatic-teller machines ran out of cash as thousands of Indonesians raced to withdraw their savings ahead of yesterday's announcement that seven ailing banks had been closed and seven more placed under Government management, including two of the country's largest commercial banks.
Jakarta – Minister of Education and Culture Wiranto Arismunandar banned Saturday students from being involved in practical political activities, a move that immediately drew harsh criticism from an observer.
April 4, 1998
Yogyakarta – Violence occurred again at the demonstration in the Gajah Mada University (UGM)'s Campus and the IKIP (Teacher's Training College) in Yogyakarta, Friday (3/4).
April 3, 1998
Yogyakarta – Student actions have entered a new phase, moving off campus. As a result, at several campuses which held demonstrations on Thursday, April 4, battles with security forces could not be avoided and resulted in students being injured.