John McBeth with Fanny Lioe in Jakarta – On October 10, two days after Indonesia announced it was going to seek the International Monetary Fund's help in salvaging its economy, Jakarta newspapers carried pictures of a smiling President Suharto playing golf with his industrialist friend, Muhammad "Bob" Hasan.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
October 23, 1997
Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Indonesia's state-owned aircraft manufacturer Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) said on Thursday it had found counter-trade deals beneficial and denied the bartering option had been taken because of difficulty in selling its planes.
October 22, 1997
Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – Indonesia's military has tried to link Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Jose Ramos Horta with an alleged terrorist group.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Indonesian Government has warned that forest fires and smoke haze are getting worse, and monsoon rains are expected to be further delayed, while another fatal haze-related shipping accident was reported in Kalimantan.
Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – East Timorese independence advocate and Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta today rejected accusations by the Indonesian military that he was linked to a clandestine group accused of making bombs.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – In a new effort to arrest the slide of the rupiah, Indonesia's Central Bank has announced that commercial banks may lend hundreds of millions of US dollars from their reserves.
October 21, 1997
The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) is concerned for the safety of Manuel Afonso and Lino Xavier Nunes who are currently in detention at POLRES (Regional Police Headquarters) in Dili, following their arrests in July and September 1997.
Canberra – Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta Tuesday accused the Australian government of covering up Indonesia's involvement in the deaths of five Australian journalists in East Timor 22 years ago.
Australia's 1996 investigation into the killings was seriously flawed, the leading East Timorese independence activist said, joining calls into a fresh inquiry.
Trevor Royle – Traditionally Britain's foreign interests have been dominated by a mixture of strategic initiatives to protect national interests and direct action, as the Foreign Office puts it, "to promote Britain's interests overseas" and "to enhance the prosperity of the United Kingdom".
October 20, 1997
Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Military helicopters flew rice and noodles to famine-stricken areas in Indonesia's remote Irian Jaya province on Monday as government officials said food shortages had also spread to Sumatra island.
October 19, 1997
Sydney – The president of the Timorese Democratic Party (UDT) said here Sunday he was asked by the Indonesian military to kill Australian journalist Hamish McDonald in 1975.
McDonald is now foreign editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
Don Greenlees – The Federal Government is facing a political contest over human rights after a decision by the ALP to call for the first time for a "right of self-determination" for East Timor in its new foreign affairs policy.
October 18, 1997
Jacqui Birchall, East Timor – The path of most despair - Site of death and oppression since 1975, East Timor had little to offer one intrepid traveller – except perhaps the satisfying knowledge that her very presence was a burr in the side of the authorities.
With Indonesia's President Soeharto nominated by his Golkar party this week for a seventh five-year term, his unopposed re-election by a largely hand-picked assembly seems certain, barring ill-health. But as Herald correspondent Louise Williams reports from Jakarta, many opinion leaders are looking for more openness in the tightly controlled New Order political system.
A report into the death of five Australia-based journalists at Balibo in East Timor 22 years ago will be examined today at a seminar at the University of NSW Law School. One man who knows just what happened at Balibo, writes Asia Editor David Jenkins, is Lieutenant-General Yunus Yosfiah, leader of the attacking force and now one of Indonesia's most influential generals.
October 17, 1997
Sydney – The Indonesian army has arrested in the last days dozens of youths, in several raids to villages aimed at discredit the armed rebel movement, a resistance leader told Lusa on Thursday.
Jakarta – Another 17 people have died in drought stricken Irian Jaya, taking the toll to 462, a report says.
On the other hands, another 90,000 people are now facing serious food ortages, the report added.
Jakarta – President Soeharto denied press reports yesterday that a food shortage has forced people in Lampung and Java to eat cassava for their daily meals.
The President described how farmers in some regencies in Java prefered to consume tiwul (foodstuff made of cassava) or mixed it with rice because they believed it would give them extra strength to work in the field.
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar party has predictably nominated ageing President Suharto to lead the country into the next century, but the question of who will succeed him remains, analysts say.
October 16, 1997
James Dunn – Timor watchers would have detected a touch of irony in a news item from Jakarta earlier this week.
Sander Thoenes and Quentin Peel, Jakarta – Indonesia may walk out of talks with Portugal over the status of East Timor unless progress is made soon, Ali Alatas, Indonesia's foreign minister, has said.
President Suharto has earned plaudits for deregulating various aspects of Indonesia's economy. But he can't complete the job without challenging some powerful vested interests.
There will be many redundancies in the industrial sector if businesses are forced to close down because of the present tight money policy, said Adi Putra Tahir, who heads the Organisation Dept of the business association, KADIN. He said that the first thing businesses do when facing cash-flow problems is to lay off employees.
Sydney – Five Australian journalists killed in East Timor were deliberately targeted by Indonesian troops and not caught in crossfire as had been thought, a report said on the 22nd anniversary of the incident.
Jakarta – At least 416 people in Indonesia's remote Irian Jaya province have died of famine and disease and nearly 90,000 face serious food shortages because of a severe drought, relief officials said on Thursday.
October 15, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Rising prices, cutbacks in health services and lay-offs resulting from economic reforms to be pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will hit Indonesia's poor and could fuel social unrest, a group of non-government organisations said yesterday.
I see this strike as the first action in a wave of actions that could hit the Suharto regime as a direct result of the crisis engulfing the Indonesian economy. Now that the IMF has been called in, new demands will be made on the regime with regard to pet projects of the Suharto Family and cronies.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Popular Muslim figures have criticised the Government for failing to provide moral leadership in a time of economic and social crisis and warned it could face mass demonstrations if it does not listen to the people.
October 14, 1997
Craig Skehan and Louise Williams – In an attempt to secure political asylum for a colleague, jailed East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao has written a letter acknowledging that he authorised the making of bombs to attack military targets.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Hot, dry winds across Indonesia have caused a dramatic fourfold increase in forest fires and new smog warnings, after last week's light rains and initial successes in fighting the fires on the ground.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Thousands of workers from Indonesia's state aircraft manufacturer held mass demonstrations yesterday, following rumours of impending lay-offs, as an International Monetary Fund team continued talks on rescuing Indonesia's ailing currency.
Four thousand five hundred workers at PT Prima Buana Tex which is located in Anggadita, Klari sub-district, West Java held a protest demonstration Monday to complain of inhumane treatment by their employers and the fact that the local branch of the SPSI (the official union) is not functioning.
October 13, 1997
Quentin Peel and Sander Thoenes, Jakarta –
Western diplomats in Jakarta are urging the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to co-ordinate a largescale rescue package for Indonesia - worth at least $12bn (=A37.4bn) - provided President ' Suharto accepts tough conditions to curb corruption.
President Soeharto and his family are the most reluctant to make the necessary sacrifices because of their business interests, contends George J. Aditjondro.
Military authorities in East Timor have seized a cache of 20 homemade bombs and detained two rebels accused of planning to destroy the territory's capital, Dili, an Indonesian newspaper reported yesterday.
Up to thirteen East Timorese men are believed to be still in detention in Semarang and Dili following two recent incidents involving home-made bombs.
October 12, 1997
[From Media Indonesia 10 Ooctober and Kompas 11 October 1997, Summarised.]
Jakarta – An Indonesian military official has accused two East Timorese sheltering in the Austrian embassy in Jakarta of being terrorists.
[Media Indonesia, 10 October 1997, Summary only]
A number of hotels in Kuta tourist complex, Bali, were burned down in a series of fires that engulfed four hotels and a group of tourist cottages. The fires took hold at around 2.30pm and were not put out until about four hours later. Fire engines had difficulty reaching the locations because of the narrow roads.
October 11, 1997
Events in modern Indonesia bear an eerie resemblance to the calamities foretold in an ancient prophecy by a Javanese king. Herald Correspondent Louise Williams in Jakarta traces the connections - and the consequences.
October 10, 1997
What is life like under the asphyxiating pall created by the burning forests of Sumatra? Australian radio and television journalist Andrea Thomson visited the town of Jambi, in the center of the island. From inside the ring of fire, she filed this eyewitness report:
Jakarta – Indonesia was urged on Thursday to carefully preserve and manage its peat forests to avoid environmental disasters such as that which has covered much of Southeast Asia in choking smog.
October 9, 1997
John McBeth, Jakarta &150; Almost nightly on Indonesian television, thousands of firefighters armed with little more than water-filled backpacks are shown trying to beat back the blazes that are blanketing Southeast Asia in smoke. Growing alarm has led Malaysia to send 1,200 firefighters to join the assault and Japan to offer pumping equipment and waterjet shooters.
David Jenkins &150; President Soeharto's decision to call in the IMF and the World Bank, his second attempt in as many weeks to staunch a hemorhaging rupiah, has sent what should be a convincing message to the financial markets.
Jay Solomon &150; The playful smile on President Suharto's face as he gave the new "national motorcycle" a spin around his palace late last month could give the impression that all is well in Indonesia.
October 8, 1997
Michael Shari &150; For years, environmentalists have pleaded with governments in Southeast Asia to save the region's vast rain forests. Officials responded that if wealthy western nations were so concerned, they should foot the cleanup bill. They also downplayed the damage loggers and planters caused by lighting fires every dry season to clear land on Sumatra and Borneo.
Buyung Rachmad Buchori Nasution, private secretary of the writer and politician Soebadio Sastrosatomo, who is on trial in the South Jakarta district court, has for a second time refused to attend a court hearing because the judge is still refusing to accede to his request that the injured party [ie, Suharto] in the case be ordered to attend.
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta &150; Two died in fighting at an East Timor mountain shrine including a man who tried to erect a banner bearing the guerrilla movement Fretilin's flag, military sources said on Wednesday.
October 7, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta &150; The Soeharto Government was facing an unprecedented crisis last night as a wave of public criticism over its handling of the fire emergency coincided with a dramatic fall in the rupiah and warnings of serious economic problems ahead.