David Jenkins – As Indonesian street demonstrations go, it may not have seemed much to write home about. A couple of dozen young men, some with their baseball caps worn backwards, milling about under the tamarind trees, shouting abuse at the occupants of a nearby office block and holding up placards painted on white, pink and pale blue cardboard.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
February 21, 1998
February 20, 1998
Mantik Kusjanto, Jakarta – President Suharto made a surprise move on Friday to restore fading confidence among Indonesians in their government by guaranteeing a pay-out on all legal deposits in 16 banks liquidated last year.
The government had previously said it would cover up to 20 million rupiah in each account of the 16 banks which amounted to 1.7 trillion rupiah.
Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – For Indonesia's Armed Forces, summoning 25,000 troops in full battle gear to a rain-slicked parking lot in south Jakarta early Feb. 7 was its way of making a statement.
Jakarta - Demonstrations and riots to protest the increase in the nine basic needs and demands for political reform which have erupted in several cities and regions during the period over the month of January up to 19 February l998 have resulted in 3 deaths, 921 detentions and 14 disappearances.
To all of the Indonesian people who are patriots and continue to struggle from the Central Leadership Committee of the People's Democratic Party (PRD) – February 20, 1998.
The national situation
Barry Porter, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Suharto is showing signs he may yield to mounting international pressure and postpone his controversial plan to introduce a Hong Kong-style currency board system.
German Finance Minister Theo Waigel emerged from a meeting with the Indonesian leader saying he had been given the impression that the plan was now under review.
February 19, 1998
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – At The Cipto Mangunkusumo Central Hospital here, doctors found that they no longer could afford the specially treated plastic bags which hold blood for transfusions. So the hospital director asked staffers to scour the local markets in search of old-fashioned milk bottles that could be washed out and used instead.
For all the almost hysterical reporting of unrest in the press, no one has yet tried to create an overall picture of what has happened on the ground. The chronology below is preliminary and based largely on Indonesian-language sources.
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta, For some, B.J. Habibie is a visionary, an ardent economic nationalist and the very image of a thoroughly modern Muslim intellectual. He inspires millions with his grand plan to transform Indonesia into a leader of industry and high technology for the next century.
Lisbon – East Timorese activist Jose Ramos Horta has disagreed with the disclosure of a letter allegedly sent by the jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao where he argued against appeals for an end of armed fight in the troubled territory.
James Woodford – The Chief of the Defence Force, General John Baker, the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, and the Defence Minister, Mr McLachlan, expressed serious concerns yesterday about the strategic implications of the economic turmoil gripping Asia.
Indonesian Forestry Minister Djamaluddin said in January that Indonesia could experience a second year of prolonged drought this year because of the El Nino effect. His warnings are supported by experts at the Integrated Forest Fires Management project in East Kalimantan (IFFM).
The Jakarta military commander Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin announced Wednesday that all demonstrations on the streets of the capital are banned forthwith, because they cause disruption to the traffic and disturb the general public.
February 18, 1998
In 1997 the international community showed a new willingness to search for solutions to the problems of conflict and human rights violations in East Timor.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Rioters in West Java had admitted being paid to initiate unrest, police said yesterday.
Police in the town of Cirebon said their inquiries were focused on seven out of 85 people arrested during three days of attacks against Chinese-owned shops and property.
February 17, 1998
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar Party has announced that the controversial Technology Minister, Dr Jusuf Habibie, is its vice-presidential choice, a move which is certain to further undermine international business confidence, as rural rioting continues and the rupiah weakens.
Jakarta – Landslide support for B.J. Habibie failed to push former environment minister Emil Salim out of the race for the vice presidency yesterday.
Emil, who has strong support from fellow academics, pro-democracy activists and the public alike, will continue his bid for the post in an "exercise of democracy".
Singapore - The assets of a handful of Indonesia's richest people could go a long way to bailing out the country if the $43 billion IMF rescue package falters, data published by Forbes Magazine shows.
February 16, 1998
There is still no news of the whereabouts of Pius Lustrilanang, the student activist from the People's Democratic Alliance (Aldera) who has been missing since 4 February 1998.
February 15, 1998
The Jakarta police force have foiled a plan to explode a grenade at the National Monument on Malam Takbir on 8 February, an event which was attended by President Suharto and Vice-President Try Sutrisno.
Two Korean-made grenades were seized and two suspects were arrested, identified only as Abd, 31, and Fa, 38.
February 14, 1998
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – At least three people have been killed and 154 detained in riots over rising prices directed mostly against shops run by Indonesia's minority Chinese, police and witnesses said on Saturday.
Jakarta – Some 2,000 students threw stones at several stores Saturday morning on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island after their rally to protest higher basic commodity prices turned into a riot, the state-run news agency Antara said.
Michael Dorgan, Jakarta – It's 5:30 a.m. and a new day is dawning. The man many here would like to see as this country's next president has been rousted from a short sleep at a spartan Islamic center and is being rushed to the airport for his next campaign stop.
Sander Thoenes profiles Indonesia's likely next vice-president
February 13, 1998
Dili – Security agents arrested two unidentified East Timorese youths, last Wednesday (11/2). The arrest took place near Dili State Court. At that time, the judge just began their hearing on the trial of six University of East Timor (UNTIM) students. They are accused of torturing Army soldiers in UNTIM campus.
Dili – Joao, 20, a citizen of Limanaru village, Raerobu, Sub-district Atabae, District Bobonaro, East Timor, had mysteriously disappeared from Guico Public Health Clinic (Puskesmas). An unknown armed group shot and kidnapped him.
Michael Richardson, Singapore – With the Indonesian government short of money and preoccupied with an economic crisis that threatens to lead to serious social unrest, concern is growing in Singapore and Malaysia that the region will again be smothered in smoke pollution from uncontrolled forest fires in Indonesia.
Yang Razali Kassim, Singapore – In total defiance of the financial markets, and acting on a script by President Suharto, the top brass of ABRI, the Indonesian military, further consolidated their ranks this week behind Research and Technology Minister B J Habibie as possible heir apparent.
Irwan Firdaus, Sukamandi – In the most violent day of protests yet in Indonesia's economic crisis, thousands went on the rampage in at least eight towns today, venting their anger against Chinese traders they blame for soaring prices and mass unemployment.
Indonesia's security forces plan to tap phones to monitor dissidents calls and pull the plug on conversations that are deemed political, a newspaper said on Friday.
Dili – Six University of East Timor (UNTIM) students were brought to trial, last Wednesday (11/2). Aniceto Guterres Lopes and Vincente Daton Igon, lawyers from the HAK (Legal, Justice and Human Rights) Foundation accompanied the six students to the Court.
February 12, 1998
Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – President Suharto accused unnamed groups on Thursday of using Indonesia's economic crisis to undermine his government as the country announced the appointment of a new armed forces chief.
Dili – Six students of the University of East Timor have gone on trial on charges of 'torturing' three members of the armed forces. The trial commenced on 11 February.
The six [all political science students] are: Francisco de Deus, 20; Domingos da Silva, 25; Silveiro Baptista Ximenes, 23; Juvinal dos Santos Moniz, 22; Bernardino Simao, 23 and; Vicente Marquez da Crus, 21.
Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – It wasn't a bomb, but the box found next to a bank machine in an airport was meant to send a warning. Marked "explosive with remote," the package of plastic pipes and electric wires carried this warning: "Bring down prices or it will happen in other places."
Margot Cohen, Jakarta – Fadli Zon has a vision. The former student activist imagines his countrymen cycling slowly down Jakarta's Jalan Thamrin, a central boulevard normally choked with cars. Instead of Western clothes, everyone will be wearing sarongs made of rough cloth. "If necessary, we'll go backwards 10 or 15 years," he says fervently.
Washington – The IMF is headed for a showdown with its third largest borrower on Thursday, insisting Indonesia was not ready for a rigid currency regime and highlighting political uncertainties there.
Indonesia's plan for a currency board may look attractive. But it is a high-risk gamble that could cause huge damage. The superficial appeal of fixing the rupiah is clear, given that the currency's plummet to only a third of its pre-crisis valueh as wreaked havoc, especially to corporate balance sheets.
Eighteen members of the People's Democratic Alliance, ALDERA, were arrested at crack of dawn Thursday by a force of 15 policemen, several of whom were in civvies. The police forced their way into the organisation's Bogor, West Java office and rounded up everyone there, without saying a word. The were taken away on three police vans to police headquarters in the city.
February 11, 1998
Seth Mydans, Surabaya – The military officer seemed puzzled when asked about the giant Tactica armored water cannon that was parked beside him, in front of the glass-and-chrome Delta Plaza Shopping Center. "Vehicle?" he asked. "You mean those taxis over there?"
February 10, 1998
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Hundreds of people marched through Jakarta's main business district yesterday protesting against rising prices and unemployment, just a day after the armed forces paraded 25,000 troops in a massive show of force and warned against demonstrations.
February 9, 1998
Jakarta – About 200 people attacked and set on fire shops and vehicles in an eastern Indonesian town in protest against price hikes, the Jakarta Post reported on Monday. It said at least 16 shops, two cars and two motorcycles were damaged or set on fire during the disturbances on Sunday in Ende town on Flores island.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Riots over rising food prices hit drought-stricken eastern Indonesia over the weekend as the chief of the armed forces led thousands of troops bristling with firepower in a daunting public display in central Jakarta.
Raphael Pura, Jakarta – A food crisis is closing in on Indonesia. The coming crunch could compel the beleaguered country to seek at least $1 billion in emergency funds for short-term food subsidies to supplement an International Monetary Fund-backed financial rescue package announced last month.
The Asian Executives Poll recorded in the Far Eastern Economic Review (5 February 1998) shows that most businesses in the region will have no confidence in an Indonesia under Suharto's continuing leadership.
February 8, 1998
Seth Mydans, Semari – When hundreds of rough-looking men burst through the alleyways of the nearby town of Kraton two days ago, throwing stones and waving sharpened sickles, most of them came from here in Semari, a placid village of farmers and fishermen.
February 7, 1998
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesia yesterday estimated the country's foreign debt at US$137.4 billion – higher than previous official figures – and announced it was drafting a new bankruptcy law to deal with the nation's private debt. "Companies not able to solve their debt problems... must have a legal solution.
Jakarta – At least two shops were burned and seven others damaged in an eastern Indonesian town on Saturday during a protest against price hikes triggered by the currency crisis, the official Antara news agency reported.
Michael Richardson, Singapore – A senior U.S. commander has expressed concern that Indonesia could be on the verge of social and political instability. The question of domestic turbulence is critical to the U.S.
February 6, 1998
Seth Mydans, Surabaya – At precisely 3 p.m. on Thursday, the heavy blue gate of the Gunawan steel plant slid open and hundreds of young men poured through to hear an announcement they dreaded. Would their factory reopen in the morning, and would all of them still have jobs if it did?