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.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
September 13, 1997
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.
The Portuguese television station TVI screened recently a video recorded message from Nino Konis Santana, the Falintil guerrilla commander. Extremely important issues were addressed and statements were made whereby indications were given on his stands on some sensitive topics.
September 1, 1997
Garut – An outraged group of people torched a police station in Pameungpeuk, Garut, some 200 km south of Jakarta, on Sunday evening.
Head of Priangan police Colonel Sukamto could not give the details on the incident, saying it is still being probed.
Some local people who were at the police station said they did not know the motive of the group.
An Indonesian court has jailed four East Timorese men to two months and 15 days each for forcibly entering the Bulgarian embassy in Jakarta to seek asylum.
Local reports say the court found the four guilty of using violence against law officers.
August 31, 1997
Tim Healy and Keith Loveard, Jakarta – These are perplexing times in Jakarta. First, the currency is safe; then it drops 20% against the U.S. dollar in just a few weeks. President Suharto speaks expansively about building a 95-km bridge over the Straits of Malacca connecting Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia.
August 30, 1997
London – Britain will soon approve a range of defence equipment contracts with Indonesia on the understanding they will be used to protect the country's oil and gas industry, a press report said here Saturday.
Susan Sim, Jakarta – Britain yesterday unveiled a six-point initiative to support human rights in Indonesia, a move welcomed cautiously by Jakarta as more constructive than mere rhetoric and hectoring over East Timor.
"I want to develop a positive agenda for human rights in Indonesia," visiting British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced at a press conference.
David Watts, Jakarta – Britain is proposing a new move in the decades - old East Timor dispute. In an attempt to bring Indonesia out of isolation over its illegal occupation of the tiny Far Eastern territory, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, proposed yesterday that a European Union "troika" should carry out a fact-finding mission.
August 29, 1997
Indigenous peoples in Indonesia are sick of being treated as second class citizens. Their voice is being heard more and more frequently as communities from Kalimantan to West Papua oppose the forces that marginalise them.
Jakarta – Indonesia's currency has plummeted to three-thousand Rupiah to the dollar, during the past few weeks. the sharp decline in the Rupiah and a prolonged drought have sent the price of basic food stuffs in the Southeast-Asian nation soaring. Jenny Grant reports from jakarta ordinary indonesians are feeling the aftershocks.
The Dayak Besar Group controls forest concessions of around 200,000 hectares and a number of timber mills in East Kalimantan. Poor management prompted the government to ban two of its subsidiaries, PT Dayak Besar Vincent Timber Co. and PT Gelora Dayak Besar, from transporting logs and sawn timber from their forest concessions in East Kalimantan to their wood-based industries.
August 28, 1997
Sydney – Political stability and continued economic liberalisation are not assured in Indonesia over the next 15 years due to the country's leadership transition after President Suharto, according to a major Australian foreign policy paper.
Jakarta – The subversion trial of Indonesia's independent labour leader Muchtar Pakpahan, set to resume Thursday after a six-month break due to illness, was postponed to next week because of ill health.