Jakarta – Although still in critical conditions and being monitored round the clock in intensive care, Gus Dur has begun a rapid recovery following a stroke several days ago. On Wednesday night, only one day following brain surgery, the leader of Nahdatul Ulama was already trying to get down from his hospital bed.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
January 23, 1998
Geoff Spencer, Jakarta – Spooked by Indonesia's uncertain political future and worried about a mountain of debt, panicky traders dumped the rupiah Thursday, pushing the battered economy into a new phase of desperation.
Dirk Beveridge, London – The Asian financial crisis and falling oil prices have left Indonesia in a double bind.
Recent stock market plunges combined with the wildly tumbling rupiah has devastated the Indonesian economy, stirring unrest and food-buying panics, and spreading concerns that millions of people will suffer hard times for years to come.
Darren Mcdermott – Indonesia's financial system is teetering on the edge of paralysis.
January 22, 1998
By Darren Mcdermott and Jay Solomon
Indonesia's failure to present a plan for repaying a crushing load of corporate debt is helping sink the rupiah to new depths.
Hamish Mcdonald – He is short, speaks shrilly and gesticulates wildly, has a decidedly Teutonic manner from his German education, has the ear of his president, and wants to build aircraft, rockets, ships and nuclear power plants. He is also the man who bought the East German Navy.
Jakarta – More than 100,000 workers in Central Java and East Kalimantan have joined the rising number of jobless in the country.
The Indonesian Observer reported on Tuesday that at least 100,000 construction workers in Central Java had lost their jobs as the prolonged currency turmoil brought construction projects to an abrupt halt.
John McBeth, Jakarta – Supremely accomplished in the art of political survival, President Suharto had little trouble stifling opposition at home as long as the economy – flawed as it may have been by nepotism and corruption – stayed on track. But he cannot control market forces. With Indonesia now drifting towards a crippling, years-long recession, his political future is in doubt.
Dili – The accused Falintil bomb-maker, Constancio da Costa dos Santos alias Aquita, tore apart the District Attorney's official response paper on Wednesday 21 January, 1998. The incidence that took place in the courtroom of Dili State Court surprised Judge I Made Nandu and District Attorney Eko Purwanto and the audience packed in the courtroom.
FALINTIL activist Constancio stunned the court at the hearing of his trial last week when he angrily tore up the prosecutor's response to his demurrer which had challenged the indictment read out at the first hearing.
January 21, 1998
Without doubt it is the women of East Timor who have suffered the most. While they have undergone what can only be described as martyrdom, the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye to their pleas for help.
Jakarta – Two provincial leaders of the opposition Indonesian United Democracy Party (PUDI) were arrested when Indonesian security forces raided a branch of the small party in Malang, East Java, a report said yesterday.
January 20, 1998
Jon Land – Foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer announced on January 12 that the federal government now recognises that East Timor has the right to self-determination.
Lisbon – The five East Timorese who have sought refuge last Thursday on the French embassy in Jakarta are expected to arrive in Lisbon on Tuesday, a source at the Portuguese Red Cross told Lusa on Monday.
January 19, 1998
Jay Solomon and Kate Linebaugh, Tangerang – On a lazy Saturday afternoon in this industrialized zone 40 kilometers west of Jakarta, a group of workers lounge near the gates of the Korean-owned shoe factory where they work, bemoaning their worsening plight. During the past six months, they note, 75% of their colleagues have been laid off, while living expenses have jumped.
Indonesia's best-known labor leader, Muchtar Pakpahan, has long been a vocal opponent of President Suharto. Detained since mid- 1996, the 44-year-old head of the outlawed Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (known as SBSI), is currently on trial for the crime of insulting President Suharto. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) has received a report from a reliable source that Lucas da Costa, 49, an East Timorese professor from Surabaya, Indonesia, who disappeared on 23 December, 1997, has been released after being arbitrarily detained by the Indonesian authorities.
Jakarta – A bomb exploded in an apartment in a central Jakarta slum area Sunday night, local residents and police said Monday, while a top military official accused a left-wing party unrecognized by the government as being behind it.
Officials said police have found several bombs in the apartment but only one exploded, injuring three people, one seriously.
January 17, 1998
Seth Mydans, Jakarta – The International Monetary Fund got virtually everything it wanted from President Suharto. Yet on Friday, one day after he reluctantly agreed to a major restructuring of Indonesia's economy, its weakened currency resumed sliding.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Tension over soaring prices once again spilled over into rioting yesterday in East Java.
Rioters smashed windows, burned goods and forced shopkeepers to slash prices on basic foodstuffs.
January 16, 1998
Jakarta – Anti-Indonesian rebels shot dead two militiamen in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in an ambush on a car carrying a village leader, the official Antara news agency reported on Friday.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Suharto today sacrificed the business privileges of his children and cronies in a sweeping economic reform agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Jakarta – Some twenty prominent government critics, including Megawati Soekarnoputri, Amien Rais, Ali Sadikin and Supeni, urged the government to make urgent economic and political reforms at a meeting here yesterday.
January 15, 1998
Following a meeting with General Feisal Tanjung, commander in chief of the armed forces, US Secretary for Defence William said that the IMET programme would be continued. He promised General Tanjung that he would immediately press Congress for the programme to be restored.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Almost 1,500 employees of Indonesia's top timber tycoon have taken voluntary retrenchment from six of his plywood companies in east Kalimantan.
About 1,400 staff have taken voluntary redundancy as part of a rationalisation in Mohammad "Bob" Hasan's Kalimanis Group, the Republika daily reported.
Jakarta – Five youths from the troubled Indonesian territory of East Timor spent the night in the French embassy here today after jumping the gate and demanding to be allowed to leave for Portugal, sources said.
ETHRC has received reports that Elizio Pinto Guterres Soares (also known as Mito), 25, an East Timorese man studying in Semarang, Indonesia, was arrested and tortured by members of the Indonesian security forces on 1 January, 1998,
January 14, 1998
Jakarta – Some 70 percent of the 286 newspaper publishers in Indonesia are facing dissolution or cessation of publication, if the increase in price of paper continues. The prices set by the producers are out of reach, while revenue from advertising continues to decline, and subscription prices are difficult to raise.
Louise Williams – These are terrible times, a taxi driver says openly. "Suharto is all right, but his greedy children are destroying this country." A domestic helper punches her fist in the air and declares her wish to march in a "huge demonstration" against the "father of Indonesia".
Dili – Four East Timorese have been found dead days after they were abducted from their village by a group of unidentified armed men, a local official said.
The four victims from Coilima village, about 60 km west of the territory's capital Dili, were among a group of eight people seized on January 3, Francisco Martins Dias, a local district chief, said.
January 13, 1998
Jakarta – Small groups of Indonesian students protested in Jakarta on Tuesday, shouting their support for opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri and their anger at an IMF bail-out agreement.
It is highly unlikely that the Indonesian Opposition leader, Megawati Sukarnoputri, will unseat President Soeharto when the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) convenes in March.
It has been reported that a National Dialogue will take place on Friday, 16 January.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto promised a new round of economic reforms during crisis talks with the International Monetary Fund yesterday, in an attempt to turn around Indonesia's ailing economy and hold off a growing challenge to both his leadership and his Government.
January 12, 1998
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Opposition figurehead Megawati Sukarnoputri may have nominated herself as a presidential candidate, but she has little chance of success.
What she has done is openly challenge President Suharto and the establishment to address the question of who will succeed him.
In doing so, she has legitimised public discussion of life after Mr Suharto.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's wealthy, including expatriate staff, faced growing community resentment over the weekend as queuing shoppers blamed the greedy upper and middle classes for buying up stocks of rice, noodles, oil and sugar in the major cities.
Jakarta – Two prominent government critics supported yesterday Megawati Soekarnoputri's bid for presidency, lauding the bold move as a boost for democratization.
Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – President Suharto has ruled Indonesia with a strong and sometimes ruthless hand for more than 30 years but analysts fear his indulgence of his six children could have undermined crucial economic reforms.
Jakarta – Hundreds of Indonesians marched some 100 kilometres in East Java to protest high food prices, damaging a shop and one vehicle, a report said Tuesday.
A crowd gathered at the Kalibaru subdistrict in Banyuwangi district on the eastern tip of East Java province on Monday to protest high food prices and later attacked a shop there, the Kompas daily said.
According to Kompas (12 January 1998), the military authorities claim to have shot dead two members of the armed resistance during an encounter with an armed group of 25 people. The incident occurred on 9 January in Buatete Kampung, Hatolia sub-distrcit. in the district of Ermera. The district chief said that the other members of the group fled.
A number of youth organisations went to Parliament on Monday, 12 January, to deliver a statement rejecting the nomination of retired General Suharto for president from 1998-2003.
January 11, 1998
PIJAR, the Network for Information and Change, has launched a new slogan, Tritura 1998, a Triple People's Demand, which calls for:
January 10, 1998
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Chinese Indonesians were yesterday preparing for an eruption of social violence as the economic crisis threatened to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
"The Chinese here are very worried, because if there is any unrest they are always the first target," businessman Eric Lazuardi said.
Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – Pressure mounted on Indonesian President Suharto on Saturday as the country's best-known opposition figure demanded the former general quit at the end of his term in March for leading the nation toward economic chaos.
[The following is a translation of an interview with Nur Hikmah the General Secretary of the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi, KNPD)]
January 9, 1998
Six East Timorese men will now go to trial for their alleged involvement in the manufacture and possession of home-made bombs. The trials are expected to commence soon.
Jakarta – Army troops patrolled the streets of Karawang town east of here Saturday a day after rioting and looting left two dead when police opened fire to stem the violence, residents said.
January 8, 1998
Salil Tripathi, Jakarta – When it comes to cronyism, few can match Indonesia's first family. The six children of President Suharto seem to have a finger in every corporate pie, thanks to the myriad contracts, equity stakes and exclusive licences handed them over the years.
Margot Cohen, Jakarta – The rupiah has plunged and urban unemployment is up. Hard times for Indonesia – and hard times call for courage, not caution. That was the message hammered home on December 28, when an unprecedented gathering of Muslim leaders and intellectuals rejected the prospect of a seventh term for 76-year-old President Suharto.
Shops in Jakarta are reporting panic buying by people worried about price rises after another days sharp falls in the value of the rupiah. Some shops have closed altogether because they have run out of stock. The rupiah fell to a record low level, ending down eighteen per cent.