Asia: As the Indonesian president prepares for a 7th term amid social and financial upheaval, the White House decides that pressing for radical change could lead to chaos.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
March 1, 1998
February 28, 1998
Jakarta - The essential qualifications to be Indonesia's vice-president are a low profile and a good supply of jokes to entertain President Suharto, outgoing Vice-President Try Sutrisno has said.
Try, who is retiring at the end of a five-year term in March, was quoted by the Jakarta Post on Saturday as telling local reporters that Suharto was like a "ship's captain."
Jenny Grant, Samarinda – Towns and villages in East Kalimantan province are suffering a severe water crisis, with river levels drastically lowered by drought and fire-fighting.
The low level of the capital Samarinda's main Mahakam River has made water from it unfit for people to drink.
February 27, 1998
Jakarta's vice-presidential battle may help Soeharto save face, suggests George J. Aditjondro
Palembang – The LBH (Institute for Legal Aid) regional offices in Palembang were attacked at 1 PM today (26/2) by a group of unknown assailants. Stones and bottles of beer were thrown, causing some damage to the facilities, mostly broken windows.
Jakarta – Muslim politician Amien Rais, a longtime critic of the Suharto administration, yesterday said that he was withdrawing his bid for the presidency and supporting the re-election of Mr Suharto for a record seventh five-year term.
Dili – Fighting between Timorese guerrillas and Indonesian forces in the East Timor region of Ermera on Wednesday caused the death of two resistance members and one Indonesian soldier, according to a military source.
Jakarta – With the General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly only three days away, students across Java staged demonstrations yesterday to press their demands for lower prices and political reform.
Major peaceful demonstrations were staged in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Purwokerto and Kudus.
February 26, 1998
A defiant Suharto gambles everything on an unorthodox financial plan that could cost Indonesia the IMF's support. In the process, the region's one-time leader may have become its biggest liability.
Jakarta – More than 3,000 students rallied noisily in the Indonesian capital Thursday, blaming President Suharto and his government for the crisis which has crippled the country.
February 25, 1998
Today the 25th of February, Cecilia Redner and Marija Fischer from the women's ploughshares group Choose Life were found guilty of attempt to malicious damage and violation of the law protecting facilities important to society (roughly translated). Cecilia, a priest in the Church of Sweden, was sentenced to fines and three years of correctional education.
Jakarta – Fires raged in remote Indonesian forests Wednesday as regional environmental ministers met to try to avoid a repeat of last year's choking haze which engulfed much of SE Asia.
Estimates of the number of fires burning in East Kalimantan alone ranged between 300 and 1,000 while dozens more were said to be blazing in Riau, central Sumatra.
Jakarta – A long-time bastion of support for President Suharto turned on him Wednesday as hundreds of current and former students at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta, condemned the leadership they helped to install in 1966
Canberra – International Monetary Fund Director for Asia-Pacific Hubert Neiss Wednesday said the fund is examining ways to preserve subsidies for food, rice and cooking oil in Indonesia under its assistance package.
Jakarta – The ruling Golkar's executive board has warned its MPs that they face unspecified disciplinary action if they nominated anyone other than Research and Technology Minister B. J. Habibie at next week's presidential and vice-presidential election, newspapers here reported yesterday.
The resurgence of bush and forest fires in Indonesia has raised fears of a return of the massive blanket of smog that smothered much of Southeast Asia last year. The haze of 1997 was caused by thousands of blazes across the country, but why were they so widespread?
February 24, 1998
Jakarta – Hundreds of students have rallied in one Indonesian city and six are on hunger strike elsewhere demanding comprehensive political and economic reforms.
Jakarta – The spectre of current food shortages leading to a famine throughout the island of Java has emerged as a major threat to President Suharto's regime, observers say, adding it could even cripple his hold on power.
Seth Mydans, Samarinda – Indonesia The eastern coast of Borneo, dry after a year of drought, is bursting into flame again, raising fears that a wave of choking smoke could soon blanket Southeast Asia as it did last autumn.
February 23, 1998
At a time when Indonesia is in the grip of a grave economic and political crisis, President Suharto, the Indonesian dictator, with the support of ABRI, the Indonesian armed forces, is further intensifying the level of repression in his determination to stay in power at all costs.
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – Indonesia-Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous country, is sliding steadily toward economic and social chaos.
Three women activists of the group of "Suara Ibu Peduli" who were organising and participating in a peaceful demonstration in front of the Hotel indonesia, Jakarta, were arrested by the Police and taken into the custody of Polda Jaya, Monday, 23 Feb, 1998.
The three women are Dr. Karlina Leksono Supeli, Gadis Arivia Effendi, and Wilasih Noviana.
February 21, 1998
Peter Hartcher – One of Indonesia's key Islamic leaders has promised to lead a "people's power" mass movement to unseat President Soeharto unless his regime can solve the country's crisis within a year.
David Jenkins – As Indonesian street demonstrations go, it may not have seemed much to write home about. A couple of dozen young men, some with their baseball caps worn backwards, milling about under the tamarind trees, shouting abuse at the occupants of a nearby office block and holding up placards painted on white, pink and pale blue cardboard.
February 20, 1998
Mantik Kusjanto, Jakarta – President Suharto made a surprise move on Friday to restore fading confidence among Indonesians in their government by guaranteeing a pay-out on all legal deposits in 16 banks liquidated last year.
The government had previously said it would cover up to 20 million rupiah in each account of the 16 banks which amounted to 1.7 trillion rupiah.
Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – For Indonesia's Armed Forces, summoning 25,000 troops in full battle gear to a rain-slicked parking lot in south Jakarta early Feb. 7 was its way of making a statement.
Jakarta - Demonstrations and riots to protest the increase in the nine basic needs and demands for political reform which have erupted in several cities and regions during the period over the month of January up to 19 February l998 have resulted in 3 deaths, 921 detentions and 14 disappearances.
To all of the Indonesian people who are patriots and continue to struggle from the Central Leadership Committee of the People's Democratic Party (PRD) – February 20, 1998.
The national situation
Barry Porter, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Suharto is showing signs he may yield to mounting international pressure and postpone his controversial plan to introduce a Hong Kong-style currency board system.
German Finance Minister Theo Waigel emerged from a meeting with the Indonesian leader saying he had been given the impression that the plan was now under review.
February 19, 1998
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – At The Cipto Mangunkusumo Central Hospital here, doctors found that they no longer could afford the specially treated plastic bags which hold blood for transfusions. So the hospital director asked staffers to scour the local markets in search of old-fashioned milk bottles that could be washed out and used instead.
For all the almost hysterical reporting of unrest in the press, no one has yet tried to create an overall picture of what has happened on the ground. The chronology below is preliminary and based largely on Indonesian-language sources.
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta, For some, B.J. Habibie is a visionary, an ardent economic nationalist and the very image of a thoroughly modern Muslim intellectual. He inspires millions with his grand plan to transform Indonesia into a leader of industry and high technology for the next century.
Lisbon – East Timorese activist Jose Ramos Horta has disagreed with the disclosure of a letter allegedly sent by the jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao where he argued against appeals for an end of armed fight in the troubled territory.
James Woodford – The Chief of the Defence Force, General John Baker, the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, and the Defence Minister, Mr McLachlan, expressed serious concerns yesterday about the strategic implications of the economic turmoil gripping Asia.
Indonesian Forestry Minister Djamaluddin said in January that Indonesia could experience a second year of prolonged drought this year because of the El Nino effect. His warnings are supported by experts at the Integrated Forest Fires Management project in East Kalimantan (IFFM).
The Jakarta military commander Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin announced Wednesday that all demonstrations on the streets of the capital are banned forthwith, because they cause disruption to the traffic and disturb the general public.
February 18, 1998
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Rioters in West Java had admitted being paid to initiate unrest, police said yesterday.
Police in the town of Cirebon said their inquiries were focused on seven out of 85 people arrested during three days of attacks against Chinese-owned shops and property.
In 1997 the international community showed a new willingness to search for solutions to the problems of conflict and human rights violations in East Timor.
February 17, 1998
Singapore - The assets of a handful of Indonesia's richest people could go a long way to bailing out the country if the $43 billion IMF rescue package falters, data published by Forbes Magazine shows.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar Party has announced that the controversial Technology Minister, Dr Jusuf Habibie, is its vice-presidential choice, a move which is certain to further undermine international business confidence, as rural rioting continues and the rupiah weakens.
Jakarta – Landslide support for B.J. Habibie failed to push former environment minister Emil Salim out of the race for the vice presidency yesterday.
Emil, who has strong support from fellow academics, pro-democracy activists and the public alike, will continue his bid for the post in an "exercise of democracy".
February 16, 1998
There is still no news of the whereabouts of Pius Lustrilanang, the student activist from the People's Democratic Alliance (Aldera) who has been missing since 4 February 1998.
February 15, 1998
The Jakarta police force have foiled a plan to explode a grenade at the National Monument on Malam Takbir on 8 February, an event which was attended by President Suharto and Vice-President Try Sutrisno.
Two Korean-made grenades were seized and two suspects were arrested, identified only as Abd, 31, and Fa, 38.
February 14, 1998
Michael Dorgan, Jakarta – It's 5:30 a.m. and a new day is dawning. The man many here would like to see as this country's next president has been rousted from a short sleep at a spartan Islamic center and is being rushed to the airport for his next campaign stop.
Sander Thoenes profiles Indonesia's likely next vice-president
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – At least three people have been killed and 154 detained in riots over rising prices directed mostly against shops run by Indonesia's minority Chinese, police and witnesses said on Saturday.
Jakarta – Some 2,000 students threw stones at several stores Saturday morning on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island after their rally to protest higher basic commodity prices turned into a riot, the state-run news agency Antara said.
February 13, 1998
Dili – Security agents arrested two unidentified East Timorese youths, last Wednesday (11/2). The arrest took place near Dili State Court. At that time, the judge just began their hearing on the trial of six University of East Timor (UNTIM) students. They are accused of torturing Army soldiers in UNTIM campus.
Dili – Joao, 20, a citizen of Limanaru village, Raerobu, Sub-district Atabae, District Bobonaro, East Timor, had mysteriously disappeared from Guico Public Health Clinic (Puskesmas). An unknown armed group shot and kidnapped him.