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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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March 30, 1998

Kyodo - March 30, 1998

Tokyo – Japanese commercial banks are likely to write off for fiscal 1997 ending Tuesday around 200 billion yen in loans to private companies in Indonesia that have been hit hard by the nation's economic crisis, banking sources said Monday.

Asia - March 30, 1998

Terry McCarthy, Jakarta – 1,000 students rallied against the government at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta last month, one rebel climbed up to a sign near the main gates: welcome to the campus of the struggle of the new order.

Australian Financial Review - March 30, 1998

Peter Hartcher – Indonesia will cut itself off from the global economy if it fails to win back the financial support of the International Monetary Fund, according to an economic adviser to the new Vice-President, Dr B.J.Habibie.

The adviser, Mr Umar Juoro, said the costs of continuing to operate in the world economy were too great for a weakened Indonesia to bear alone.

The Nation USA - March 30, 1998

Allan Nairn, Jakarta – Today in Indonesia activists and observers speculate that the country – reeling from hunger and mass layoffs promoted by the IMF – is moving toward social upheaval and perhaps a change of regime. At the dumps in Bantar Gebang, the ranks of scavengers have soared as sacked day laborers pick through garbage hoping to survive.

March 28, 1998

Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) News - March 28, 1998

Andi Arief, the ex-chairperson of Student Solidarity for Indonesian Democracy (Solidaritas Mahsiswa Indonesia untuk Demokrasi, SMID), one of the affiliated mass organisations of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), who has been sought by the authorities for some time, was arrested Saturday morning (28/3) at around 10.30am. He was arrested at a house owned by his older brother.

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation - March 28, 1998

Press statement by the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute and the Lampung Legal Aid Institute regarding the arrest of Andi Arief by security officers today.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and the Lampung Legal Aid Institute have received a complaint from the family of Andi Arief represented by his father, Arief Makhya and his older brother, Edy Irawan.

March 26, 1998

Kompas - March 26, 1998

Jakarta – A clash between demonstrators and security personnel has again occurred on the campus of UNS, Solo on Wednesday (25/3) yesterday. The incident took place at about 13.50 West Indonesia Time, some ten meters in front of the campus gate.

March 24, 1998

IPS - March 24, 1998

Kafil Yamin, Pekanbaru – For two days now, Dorin, has been staying in a high hut here, waiting for armies of fish to pass through the small canal below so he can catch some.

March 21, 1998

ASIET - March 21, 1998

On Friday March 13, three leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia were captured in a flat in Jakarta. The three leaders are Mugianto, Nesar Patria and Aan Rusdianto.

March 20, 1998

Australian Financial Review - March 20, 1998

Geoffrey Barker – Indonesia is on the brink of hyperinflation and is committing major breaches of its economic reform agreement with the International Monetary Fund, a confidential Department of Foreign Affairs report has warned the Federal Government.

Kompas - March 20, 1998

Jakarta - Minister for Education and Culture Wiranto Arismunandar has commissioned a special report on the clashes between students and security forces which occurred at the University of Solo (UNS) on 17 March 1998. He has given specific instructions that the report should provide a detailed chronology of the events which eventually led to 29 students being injured.

March 19, 1998

Asiaweek - March 19, 1988

Tom McCawley, Jakarta – In the end, Indonesia's banking reform was more like amputation than elective surgery. But nearly everyone agreed a radical step was necessary to save the patient. Jakarta announced March 13 that it was closing 38 banks, taking over seven others and recapitalizing nine.

The Age - March 19, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia had ordered an American human rights activist, who accused the United States military of "directly supporting" repression in Indonesia, to leave the country, a source said yesterday.

A member of the security forces told Mr Allan Nairn, a journalist and activist, he would be expelled, the source said.

Jakarta Post - March 19, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – New Minister of Home Affairs R. Hartono scoffed at a suggestion that President Soeharto's proposal for ministers to donate their first year's salaries to the poor would open the door to corruption.

Far Eastern Economic Review - March 19, 1998

Salil Tripathi, Jakarta – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Perhaps International Monetary Fund chief Michel Camdessus should have kept that investment axiom in mind before committing $33 billion to Indonesia--where President Suharto personally signed off on a wrenching reform package in January without a peep of protest.

South China Morning Post - March 19, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Three Indonesian students will be charged with subversion after police allegedly found "communist material" in their apartment, in the latest round of charges against political activists.

Concerned People's Committee - March 19, 1998

[The following is an abridged translation of a chronology of an action by the Concerned People's Committee (Aksi Komete Peduli Rakyat). Please note that this was the second day of protest at the Unila university. 120 were arrested on the first day and released after protests and lobbying.

Reuters - March 19, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian police and students clashed in the West Java city of Bandung as security forces sought to prevent campus protests against the government spilling onto the streets, the Kompas newspaper reported on Thursday.

Associated Press - March 19, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Police used tear gas, clubs and high-pressure water hoses to subdue thousands of stone-throwing student protesters today. At least 60 people were detained in the most violent of the anti-government demonstrations that began erupting on campuses weeks ago.

Straits Times - March 19, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's economic woes should be blamed on the government's failure to implement reforms, not on deficiencies in the International Monetary Fund's programme for the country, the agency's chief, Mr Michel Camdessus, told Time magazine in an interview.

Far Eastern Economic Review - March 19, 1998

Murray Hiebert with S. Jayasankaran in Kuala Lumpur – A late-afternoon telephone call alarmed the retired Malaysian civil servant. In a frightened voice, a woman told him she had just arrived by boat from Indonesia, and was calling from outside his Kuala Lumpur apartment complex.

March 17, 1998

New York Times - March 17, 1998

Tim Weiner, Washington – The Pentagon has been training Indonesian military forces since 1992, despite a congressional ban intended to curb human rights abuses by those soldiers, Defense Department documents show.

South China Morning Post - March 17, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Only hours after President Suharto swore in his new Cabinet, his golfing partner, who is now also his trade minister, showed where his loyalties lay, putting the Government in a worrying light.

And it did not bode well for demands by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to see economic reform before continuing its rescue package.

March 16, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - March 16, 1998

David Jenkins – What is one to make of the new Indonesian Cabinet, unveiled by a weary-looking President Soeharto as his nation grapples with its worst economic crisis in 30 years?

Sydney Morning Herald - March 16, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto's new Cabinet signals a retreat to personalised politics with the appointment to key portfolios of his powerful daughter, Siti "Tutut" Hardiyanti Rukmana, his golfing mate, timber baron Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, and the return of several ministers linked to recent corruption scandals.

March 15, 1998

Asiaweek - March 15, 1998

Amien Rais has many personas. He is professor of political science at Gadjah Mada University in Jogjakarta in Central Java. He heads the Muhammadiyah, a 28-million-strong conservative Muslim organization focusing on social and educational activities.

Asiaweek - March 15, 1998

Sangwon Suh – To many observers, Maj.-gen. Agum Gumelar's proposal was a confirmation of their suspicions. When the South Sulawesi regional commander called for an oath of loyalty to Gen. Wiranto on Feb. 20, shortly after the latter was sworn in as the new armed forces chief, it was seen as further evidence that there was a rift in the military.

March 14, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - March 14, 1998

By David Jenkins – So who is to blame for the mess in Indonesia, a nation that appears to be sliding inexorably towards political, social and economic chaos?

Can everything be laid at the feet of President Soeharto's New Order Government, in power for 32 years and widely criticised for fostering a climate of corruption and nepotism?

Sydney Morning Herald - March 14, 1998

This week Indonesia's People's Assembly unanimously voted President Soeharto another five-year term. But he can't buy a vote of confidence from the IMF, or from many of his own people. Louise Williams reports.

New York Times - March 14, 1998

Seth Mydans, Jakarta – As Indonesia enters one of its most difficult years, President Suharto announced Saturday a Cabinet marked by loyalty and family connections rather than economic expertise.

Financial Times - March 14, 1998

Sander Thoenes, Jakarta - General Wiranto, Indonesia's new military commander, has emerged as a new voice of moderation and even a potential alternative to President Suharto.

Jakarta Post - March 14, 1998

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) has filed a pre-trial lawsuit against the police over the arrest of the playwright Ratna Sarumpaet and eight other activists last Tuesday.

Business Times - March 14, 1998

Leon Hadar – The Clinton Administration, frustrated over its inability to persuade President Suharto to embrace economic and political reforms, has decided to adopt a "wait-and-see" policy towards Jakarta, sources say.

March 12, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - March 12, 1998

Jennifer Hewett, Washington – The International Monetary Fund, responding to criticism of its tough approach to Indonesia, has indicated it is willing to be more flexible in negotiating changes to the country's economic reform program.

Far Eastern Economic Review - March 12, 1998

By Margot Cohen in Jakarta and Bandung, West Java – By all accounts, the speech was masterly. "Human rights have practically disappeared," intoned President Suharto. "The law offers almost no guarantee or protection... Power is centred absolutely in one hand, that of head of state.

Reuters - March 12, 1998 (extracts)

Nick Edwards, Singapore – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Thursday a global effort was needed to put out Indonesia's spreading forest fires.

"We need the resources of the world, not just Asian people, to help put these fires out," Suvit Yodmani, regional director for UNEP in Asia and the Pacific, told Reuters by telephone.

Jakarta Post - March 12, 1998

Jakarta – On-campus rallies calling for reform and protesting against the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities gathered steam yesterday as tens of thousands of students and lecturers from nearly 40 universities took part.

March 11, 1998

Lusa - March 11, 1998

Sydney – Timorese leaders in Australia described the re-election of Suharto on Tuesday for the Indonesian presidency as a structural and political weakness in the Southeast Asian nation that it would only be solved if the vice-president Habibie, could guarantee a proper transition in the post-Suharto era.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 11, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – With a standing ovation in place of voting, President Soeharto was re-elected unopposed by a loyalist Assembly yesterday, the cheerful back slapping inside the Parliament far removed from the growing unrest on the streets.

March 10, 1998

Associated Press - March 10, 1998

Joseph Coleman, Yogyakarta – About 10,000 students protested in President Suharto's hometown today, demanding Asia's longest-serving leader quit just as he was sworn-in for another five years in power.

In a major display of defiance, the students took to streets around the campus of Gadjah Mada University, one of Indonesia's largest and oldest colleges.

Kyodo - March 10, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights has urged police to investigate the mysterious disappearances of two dissidents early last month, an English-language daily reported Tuesday.

Reuters - March 10, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian police detained nine activists after a pro-democracy event in north Jakarta on Tuesday that was timed to coincide with the election of President Suharto to a seventh five-year term.

AFX-Asia - March 10, 1998

Surabaya – Some 400 students clashed with security forces which prevented them from marching to another university today, witnesses said.

Anti-riot police and soldiers beat the students with clubs and at least one was rushed to hospital bleeding from the head.

March 9, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - March 9, 1998

James Woodford – The rapidly expanding role of the Defence Force in training Indonesian soldiers, including crack special forces, risks associating Australia with human rights abuses, a senior defence official at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta has warned.

Agence France Presse - March 9, 1998 (extracts)

Indonesia's President Suhahrto was Monday granted unspecified new security powers to counter social unrest and subversion.

The People's Consultative Assembly which is set to return Suharto Tuesday to office for a seventh term gave no details of the powers in a decree announcing the move.

March 8, 1998

Reuters - March 8, 1998

Phil Smith, Jakarta – Indonesia is being criticised for not implementing the International Monetary Fund's new set of economic reforms quickly enough and President Suharto has come under increasing pressure from agencies and governments to get things going.

March 7, 1998

Kyodo - March 7, 1998

Washington – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not disburse a second 3 billion dollar installment of its loan to financially beleaguered Indonesia before April, an IMF spokeswoman said Friday.

New York Times - March 7, 1998

Seth Mydans, Jakarta – As an electoral assembly moved through its scripted steps Friday toward the expected re-election of President Suharto next week, the new players on the Indonesian scene – international financial traders – voted no-confidence in the economy.

The Nation - March 7, 1998

Bangkok – A Group of human-rights advocates successfully concluded two international seminars on East Timor this week despite continued "low intensity harassment" by Thai authorities.

Down to Earth - March 7, 1998

The following is a summary of two messages (translated) received today from a group in West Papua.