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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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September 11, 1997

Associated Press - September 11, 1997

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

South China Morning Post - September 10, 1997

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.

Voice of America - September 10, 1997

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.

South China Morning Post - September 10, 1997

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.

Australian Associated Press - September 10, 1997

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.

Antara - September 10, 1997

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.

Reuters - September 10, 1997

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.

Reuters - 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.

September 9, 1997

Straits Times - 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.

Reuters - September 9, 1997

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

Tapol - 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.

Tapol - September 6, 1997

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

Reuters-September 5, 1997

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.

SiaR - September 5, 1997

[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.]

South China Morning Post - 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.

Reuters - September 5, 1997

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.

Canberra Times - September 5, 1997

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.

September 4, 1997

Reuters - September 4, 1997

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.

South China Morning Post - September 4, 1997

Jakarta – The wife of murdered journalist Fuad Syarifuddin yesterday testified that police were holding the wrong man.

Voice of America - September 4, 1997

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.

Straits Times - September 4, 1997

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.

Antara - September 4, 1997

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.

Far Eastern Economic Review - 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.

September 3, 1997

Associated Press - September 3, 1997

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.

Reuters - September 3, 1997

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.

Agence France Presse - September 3, 1997

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.

Reuters - 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.

Straits Times - September 3, 1997

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.

September 2, 1997

Lusa - 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.

Sydney - September 2, 1997

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

Antara - 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.

Radio Australia - September 1, 1997

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.

Amnesty International - September 1997


August 31, 1997

Asiaweek - 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

Straits Times - August 30, 1997

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.

Agence France Presse - 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.

The Times (UK) - August 30, 1997

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

Down To Earth - 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.

Down To Earth - August 29, 1997

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.

Voice of America - August 29, 1997

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.

August 28, 1997

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1997 (Extracts only)

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.

Far Eastern Economic Review - August 28, 1997

John McBeth, Jakarta – Tucking into a plate of fruit, a late-afternoon substitute for his missed lunch, Rizal Ramli laughs when asked if he's an economic nationalist. But he doesn't reject the label.

Reuters - August 28, 1997 (abridged)

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.

August 27, 1997

Reuters - August 27, 1997

Jakarta – An Indonesian court has been asked to sentence 14 East Timorese to one year in jail for taking part in an anti-Indonesia protest during a visit by a U.N. envoy in March, the official Antara news agency reported on Wednesday.

August 25, 1997

Kompas - August 25, 1997 (posted by Tapol, summary only)

The subversion trial of SBSI chairperson Muchtar Pakpahan is scheduled to resume on Thursday, 28 August. The trial has been adjourned for five months because the defendant fell ill.

Reuters - August 25, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia dismissed on Monday a proposal from an East Timor rebel leader for the former Portuguese colony to have a similar relationship with Jakarta as the United States shares with Puerto Rico.

August 24, 1997

Asiaweek - August 24, 1997

Catherine Shepherd and Keith Loveard, Jakarta – In Indonesia these days, many people are holding their breath in more ways than one. For two months now, sections of the country have been enveloped in a dark gray haze.

Asiaweek - August 24, 1997

Peter Morgan and Keith Loveard, Jakarta – Muhammad Syafruddin was beaten to death with an iron bar outside his house in Jogjakarta on August 13, 1996. Police say he was killed by his lover's jealous husband.

August 23, 1997

Sydney Morning Herald - August 23, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – From the air, the great rainforests of Borneo have disappeared under billowing clouds of smoke from hundreds of forest fires raging out of control, forcing planes to abandon their attempts to land.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 23, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto will not approve the release of the jailed East Timorese guerilla leader, Xanana Gusmao, despite the recent plea by the South African leader, Mr Nelson Mandela.