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.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
January 10, 1998
[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)]
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.
January 9, 1998
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.
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.
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.
John Aglionby, Jakarta – Demands for an end to President Suharto's 32 years of autocratic rule and outbreaks of social disorder are the signs of increasing political discontent in Indonesia.
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.
The rupiah fell in value today, Thursday, to below 10,000 to the dollar, from just over 8,000 on Wednesday.
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.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – An Indonesian Muslim leader has called for President Soeharto to be replaced and has proposed an alliance for political reform between key Muslim figures and the pro-democracy leader Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri as the currency continues its slide.
January 7, 1998
Sander Thoenes, Jakarta – President Suharto presented a draft budget to parliament yesterday that would breach targets agreed with the International Monetary Fund and presumes exchange, inflation and growth rates that many economists consider unrealistic.
Employers affiliated to a number of employers associations have pleaded with the government not to increase the minimum wage for 1998 because of the grave crisis which now has the country in its grip, following the dramatic fall in the value of the Indonesian currency.
January 6, 1998
Jakarta – Tens of Timorese students demonstrated on Monday in Semarang, in the centre of Java, against the "police terrorism" and the recent kidnappings of students and an university teacher.
Mariano Lopes, one of the Timorese student leaders told by phone that the demonstration was held in front of the regional parliament of Semarang, 400 km of Jakarta.
The armed forces will not hesitate to cut to pieces (membabat) all anti-government groups, said the commander of ABRI, the armed forces, General Feisal Tanjung, after a meeting with President Suharto. He said that ABRI would be ready to face every threat to security in the run-up to the MPR meeting in March.
January 5, 1998
Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Indonesian Government is under strong internal pressure to breach International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity conditions in this week's national Budget as the deepening economic crisis forces massive lay-offs and spiralling inflation.
Jakarta – More than 1,000 people went on a rampage today through the capital of West Java to protest a crackdown on illegal street vendors.
Yenni Kwok, Bekasi – It is a brave motorist who ventures on to Pantura, the highway that runs for 1,000 hair-raising kilometers along Java's north coast. Trucks and buses are given to bullying anything smaller out of the way as they weave from lane to lane at breakneck speeds.
Jakarta – It is estimated that about 36,000 employees or 60 percent of the entire work force of the automobile and motorcycle parts industry will be put on home standby status, in the wake of lowered sales of the industry's products.
The West Java capital, Bandung erupted in rioting as 30,000 people went onto the streets in support of street traders in a conflict with the local authorities.
The trouble started with a dispute between street traders in Cicadas and municipal security officials who moved in to remove traders, using rough, inhumane methods.
January 3, 1998
David Shanks – A fist fight in the car-park of St Anthony's College, Oxford, over that distant land alerted me to the length of Indonesia's surveillnace shadow.
Louise Williams, Indonesia's Finance Minister has appealed against a court decision allowing a bank controlled by President Soeharto's half-brother, Mr Probosutedjo, to remain open despite being included in the liquidation list under the International Monetary Fund's bail-out package.
January 2, 1998
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's embattled economy has suffered a further blow with the downgrading of the Government's foreign currency debt to "junk bond" status by the leading United States ratings agency Standard and Poor's.
The agency warned of the growing political risk in falling incomes and rising unemployment.
January 1, 1998
[The following is a translation of a press release sent to ASIET by the KNPD]
Conditions in Indonesia recently have become of ever more concern. The economic crisis which indicates Indonesia's fundamental economic weakness gets worse and worse. As a result the price of goods has jumped and the "little" people are the ones who must sholder all of this.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – An Indonesian court has blocked the liquidation of a bank owned by President Soeharto's half brother, Mr Probosutedjo, which was ordered closed two months ago in the first round of reforms under the International Monetary Fund's $US38 billion ($58.5 billion) rescue package.
The government of President Suharto faced a volley of criticism Monday, accused of orchestrating a bombing plot to silence dissent and blamed for the economic crisis gripping Indonesia.
December 31, 1997
The Suharto regime is entering 1998 in a state of profound crisis, unprecedented in the regime's 32-year history. During the past twelve months, the regime has suffered a number of political and economic disasters and its international reputation has been irreparably damaged.
Budiman Sudjatmiko and Petrus Heryanto, the chair and secretary-general of the PRD, the People's Democracy Party, have filed a lawsuit against Interior Minister Yogie S. Memed for dissolving and banning their party and the six organisations affiliated to it.
Semarang – Central Java Prosecutor's High Office had arrested Gil Paulo da Silva (23, an IMPETTU Solo member. He was accused of helping one East Timor "terrorist" suspected as one of the bomb-makers unintentionally exploded in Demak a few months ago. He was accused of breaking Article 169 paragraph 1 and Article 221 paragraph 1e of the Indonesian Criminal Law.
December 30, 1997
Former member of Parliament, Sri-Bintang Pamungkas, now chairperson of PUDI, the Indonesian Democratic Unity Party, walked out of the third hearing of his trial in Jakarta on Monday after the judge rejected his petition to have the prosecutor declared unsuitable to take part in the trial proceedings.
December 29, 1997
Jakarta's power elite loves to gossip about who might succeed President Suharto. The grapevine works overtime every fifth year when the Indonesian strongman prepares to go to Parliament to renew his mandate, as he must again in March.
Jakarta – Two leading scholars have blasted government officials for "burying their heads in the sand" and living in denial when faced with crises.
Sociologist Loekman Soetrisno of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and Abdurrahman Wahid of the Moslem organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) said the habit failed to solve problems.
December 28, 1997
A cultural evening entitled "Culture of the Marginalised" which was to have taken place at the office of the independent trade union, the SBSI, was broken up by police just a few minutes after it had begun. Dozens of police entered the hall. One officer yelled: 'You haven't got a permit'. All those present were then ordered to leave the hall.
December 27, 1997
The position and role of the state is the point of departure for any evaluation of human rights violations in Indonesia. Apart from elections held once every five years which give the false impression of a freedom of choice, the New Order state has no need for legitimisation, nor is it accountable to the people.
December 24, 1997
[The following is a translation of a message sent to ASIET by the underground Peoples Democratic Party (PRD).]
To the Christian community, merry Christmas. To the Islamic community, best wishes for the month of fasting [Bulan Puasa].
The new year, 1998, will begin with a shattered myth. The so-called engine of economic growth in Asia – the "economic miracle" for the past 30 years that dazzled the developed world – is grinding to a halt.
Jonathan Head, Jakarta – An ecumenical church is Indonesia has been destroyed by a mob near the capital, Jakarta, according to church sources. This is the latest in a series of attacks on churches, which are being blamed on rising resentment among Indonesia's Muslim majority of the disproportionate wealth of many Christians.
JAKARTA – The government will launch a national drive to promote human rights protection next year as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights.
Surabaya – MateBEAN sources have tracked the identity of the four East Timor students and two other graduates kidnapped in Surabaya on Sunday 12 December 1997.
Jakarta – Human rights activists predicted yesterday that Indonesia's human rights record and legal condition would see no improvement next year.
Michael Richardson, Singapore – Indonesia's total foreign debt may amount to $200 billion, nearly double the level recorded by the government in Jakarta, according to an estimate made public Tuesday amid rising doubts about East Asia's capacity to repay loans.
Jakarta – Ousted chief of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) Megawati Soekarnoputri commemorated the fourth anniversary of her leadership yesterday, calling for immediate political reform.
In a gathering attended by 300 people at her residence in South Jakarta, Megawati also called for a stop to violations of the law.
December 23, 1997
Jakarta – Two alleged East Timor rebels were killed in armed fighting with Indonesian troops in the former Portuguese colony, reports said today.
Lieutenant Colonel Supadi, chief of East Timor's Ermera military district, said the two, killed on Saturday, were identified as Agustinho Mounsinho, 21, and Agustinho Coan, 24.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesian Vice-President General Try Sutrisno has "banned" women from going on lavish foreign shopping expeditions during the country's economic crisis.
The Minister for Women's Affairs, Mien Sugandhi, quoted General Sutrisno as saying foreign shopping jaunts were a "no go".
Jakarta – President Soeharto said yesterday rumors that his health was failing, he was dead, or that the Armed Forces were planning a coup, were aimed at destabilizing the economy and toppling the government.
Surabaya – Unknown security officers arrested four East Timor students in Surabaya on Sunday 21 December 1997. MateBEAN source from Surabaya stated that only one out of four students was identified yet. His name is Romualdo Amaral Soares (36), a newly graduated student of ITATS Surabaya, majoring in industrial management.
December 22, 1997
Manatuto – A Red Beret military unit, infamously known as Kopassus had arbitrarily arrested Elias Soares (18), on 8 December 1997, with no clear reasons at all. The primary school graduate from Vemassa Sub-district, Bacau, was on his way from Vemassa to Dili. Until MateBEAN posted the news today, there was still no clues of his whereabouts and destiny.
Lisbon – Indonesian secret police have arrested five East Timorese university students in Surabaya, Java, on suspicion of supporting the pro-independence Socialist Association of Timor, the group said today.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's financial markets are showing the first signs of stability in three weeks, giving the Government a much-needed chance to regain its management credibility with the annual Budget to be delivered in the first week of January.