[The following is an excerpt from an interview with Revrisond Baswir, an expert on political economy at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. He shared his views on reforms in the Indonesian Military (TNI) with The Jakarta Post's Agus Asip Hasani last week.]
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
July 3, 2000
July 2, 2000
Jakarta – Police in Jakarta will deploy trained marksmen in a bid to combat rising crime in the Indonesian capital, a spokesman said yesterday.
"The move is show that the police are serious in fighting crime and to make people feel psychologically safe," said police spokesman Colonel Zainuri Lubis.
Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Denpasar – A gathering of prominent national figures made a strong call here on Saturday for the nation to recommit to the ideals of reform by recommending an absolute break from antidemocratic institutions and practices of the past, including putting former president Soeharto and his cronies on trial.
Jakarta – Indonesia's leading politicans sat together on the island of Bali for two days last week dissecting the pros and cons of supporting Abdurrahman Wahid, their controversial president of eight months.
Jonathan Head, Jakarta – After 18 months, there is still no end in sight to the conflict between Christian and Muslim communities in the Moluccas. If anything, the outbreaks of fighting are becoming more destructive, with the increasing use of modern weapons.
July 1, 2000
Irna G.W/SWA & LM, Jakarta – The high profile gathering of academics, community leaders and politicians taking part in the National Discussion Forum (FRN), currently being held at the Kartika Plaza Hotel, Denpasar, Bali were surprised by tens of students who staged a noisy protest.
Marianne Kearney, Jakarta – The Indonesian police have taken another significant step towards their long awaited split from the military – restructuring their ranks and replacing their military ranks with British style ranks.
June 30, 2000
Yeoh En-Lai, Bintan – About 100 villagers resumed their protest over the takeover of their land outside the main land entrance to the Bintan Beach International Resort yesterday morning, nearly six months after 91 were arrested for blockading it.
Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid disclosed yesterday that a few days before former president Soeharto resigned on May 21, 1998, he had instructed the withdrawal of Rp70 trillion (US$8 billion) from foreign banks.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – Bargaining over property and compensation claims between Indonesia and East Timor has begun in what is already proving to be a complex and sensitive process.
Joanna Jolly, Ternate – "Before we go to the holy war field, we are trained magically. If our magic is strong and we have a true contact with God, we will not be killed or wounded," says Abubakar Wahid, the leader of Laskar Jihad, touching the row of sword cuts on his arms that, he says, prove that he is invincible.
Djoko Tjiptono/FW & Lyndal Meehan, Jakarta – After the Police handed in the findings of their investigations into the 27 July 1996 attack on the offices of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), the House decided to set up a special "connectivity trial".
Dili – Rigid UN practices coupled by delays in distribution of World Bank funds are hampering progress on the reconstruction of East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello has told the UN Security Council.
Jakarta – At least 87 pharmaceutical factories in Indonesia have stopped operation since the crisis began to jolt the country in the second half of 1997.
Jakarta – Occasional sniper fire and explosions punctuated a tense calm in the riot-torn eastern Indonesian city of Ambon Friday ahead of a midnight deadline for all Indonesian troops there to report to base, residents said.
June 29, 2000
Richel Dursin, Bandung – In a classroom full of senior high school students, Budhi Setiawan was giving a lecture on reproductive health when a 16-year-old girl raised her hand and asked: Does kissing cause pregnancy?
Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – Canada's Newmont Mining Corp. said on Thursday it had evacuated women, children and non-essential staff from its gold mine in north Sulawesi after intimidation by protesting locals who have blockaded the site.
Richard Borsuk, Porsea – When Suharto was president of Indonesia, corporate big shots visiting their factories in the provinces were routinely welcomed by festive banners strung above the highway.
Carolyn Robinson, Belu – They fled only to become refugees. Now they almost live here as inmates. In the camps that dot the countryside of this impoverished Indonesian province, about 100,000 refugees now live alongside the same militias who went on a killing and burning rampage in East Timor last September following a referendum on independence.
Jakarta – The Indonesian government Thursday unveiled a blueprint and timetable for a sell-off of state assets this year, including the communication giants, Telkom and Indosat.
Lindsay Murdoch, Poso – Bodies are rotting by the road or floating down rivers. Nearly all have had their heads cut off, their hands tied behind their backs. Mosques and churches are destroyed. Houses and shops are burnt to the ground. Entire villages are packing up or have already left for makeshift refugee camps, the future unknown.
June 28, 2000
Jakarta – Indonesia's state audit agency said yesterday that despite government efforts to tackle graft, millions of dollars had been wasted through corruption at major state companies and agencies in the fiscal year to end-March.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – Troops in the Maluku Islands are to be replaced because they are taking sides in the sectarian strife there, military spokesmen said yesterday as a night curfew was imposed. The action came a day after the declaration of a state of civil emergency in Maluku – one step short of martial law.
A Andri/SWA & LM, Jakarta – The offices of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI) on Jl. Yos Sudarso St Km 6.8, Medan, North Sumatra, were attacked today by a mob of assailants wearing vests marked with the emblem of the Indonesian Workers Union Federation (FSPSI).
Nuruddin Lazuardi/FW & LM, Jakarta – The disgraced "Timber King" Bob Hasan has reportedly amassed US$263 million from an aerial mapping project conducted by his company, PT Mapindo Parama.
[This is an opinion piece from Thursday's Asian Wall Street Journal. Mr. Van Zorge is principal and co-founder of Van Zorge, Heffernan & Associates, a political risk and government relations firm based in Jakarta.]
Max Lane – The 10 years to 1998 was a decade of escalating mass protest in Indonesia, climaxing in the 1998 mobilisations of hundreds of thousands of people across the archipelago which toppled the aging dictator, Suharto. But that decade will be nothing as compared to what is down the line during the next one.
June 27, 2000
Maryadi/Swastika & LM, Jakarta – Accused of corruption, incompetence and of being a remnant of the old regime, West Kalimantan Govenor, Aspar Aswin, only has to wait till 28 June when the provincial legislature will decide whether to accept his annual accountability speech.
Dili – The United Nations has ruled out sharing executive power with East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao in the lead-up to full independence for the UN-administered territory, according to a document obtained Tuesday.
Peter Alford – "The criticism of us has been varied and I would say only partly justified ... at no time in history has a country been totally rebuilt in six months or a year," so Jean Cady, deputy chief of the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET), dryly notes.
Dili – Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, East Timor's spiritual leader, has written to the UN administration and foreign health aid groups demanding a stop to the use of "artificial" family planning methods in the territory.
Jakarta – The World Bank country director for Indonesia, Mark Baird, has apparently taken sides with President Abdurrahman Wahid over growing criticism against the government's economic policy.
Jakarta – Government efforts to end sectarian violence in Indonesia's Maluku islands by imposing a state of emergency hang on the neutrality of soldiers there, analysts said Tuesday.
Yayus Yuswoprihanto/LM & FW, Jakarta – 500 workers from Gaspermindo (Indonesian Independent Workers Combined Union) rallied in front of the House of Reperesentatives building today, demanding sweeping improvements in the wages and conditions of workers.
Jakarta – The government urged on Monday the police to take tougher actions against protesters to protect the operations of coal mining company PT Kaltim Prima Coal in East Kalimantan and gold mining company PT Newmont Minahasa Raya in North Sulawesi.
A Andri/Swastika & LM, Jakarta – Representatives of Batak Toba tribe in North Sumatra have urged the government to immediately close down PT Inti Indorayon Utama to avoid further conflict with local people.
Darwin – East Timor wanted a maritime boundary with Australia at the midpoint between the two countries, putting key petroleum projects in East Timorese waters, spokesman on Timor Gap issues for the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) Mari Alkatiri said on Monday.
Vaudine England – Her father helped found the country and remains a symbol of freedom to many. After a childhood of privilege she chose to enter politics, daring to stand up to the dictatorial whims of her father's successor.
Santi Soekanto – A truly democratic negotiation for solutions in Aceh should include different elements including women groups, says Jacqueline Aquino Siapno from the Philippines.
June 26, 2000
Dana R. Dillon – It is a debate that pits the Clinton administration against human-rights watchers who say the White House is rewarding a corrupt regime bent on violence. The White House counters it is trying to export American values. Building trade with China?
President Wahid may pay dearly for failing to get a quick turnaround in his country's troubled economy, writes Hamish McDonald.
Analysts of Indonesia have occasionally looked to the Soviet Union for analogies to explain and predict trends in this far-flung archipelago.
Yogi Arif/Swastika & LM, Jakarta – While some 100 demonstrators gathered at the Jakarta provincial parliament building demanding the members reject the annual accountability speech of Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, over 1,000 pedicab drivers gathered at the Jakarta City Court demanding they be allowed to operate in the city.
Ati Nurbaiti, Jakarta – There is a lot of clamor nowadays to bring those guilty of abusing power and violating human rights to trial – those involved in abduction, arbitrary detention, corruption, torture, rape and killings.
Chaidir Anwar Tanjung/ RHP & LM, Pekanbaru – In Lagoi, North Bintan, Kepri regency, on the island of Riau which is pushing for extensive autonomy from Indonesia, hundreds of local people have staged protests demanding proper compensation for their land taken during the New Order era of President Suharto.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – Less than two months from now, President Abdurrahman Wahid will face a fractious parliament, large parts of which will seek to bring him down.
Jakarta – The lack of a clear-cut regulation on industrial labor relationships and poor control from the government have led to the vast exploitation of workers, especially those hired on a seasonal basis, according to legal expert Apong Herlina.
June 25, 2000
Jakarta – About 200 Islamic protesters attacked and damaged a restaurant in a well-to-do Jakarta neighbourhood after throwing rocks at offices occupied by Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission on Friday.
Jakarta – Mobs broke into a police headquarters and took away cash, ammunition and police uniforms, raising concerns of an escalation of violence in the week-long unrest plaguing the troubled Malukus Islands.
June 24, 2000
Robert Go, Jakarta – The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (Ibra) would be investigated for holding back nearly eight trillion rupiah (S$1.68 billion) worth of funds that should have been deposited into the state treasury, said the agency's supervising cabinet minister.