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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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February 19, 1999

Agence France Presse - February 19, 1999

Jakarta – The basic minimum wage in Indonesia's 27 provinces is to be raised an average 16.1 percent from April 1, reports said Friday.

However, companies that could not afford the raise should apply for a postponment, the director general for industrial relations and labour supervision, Syaufii Syamsuddin, was quoted by the Kompas daily as saying.

South China Morning Post - February 19, 1999

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – A transcript of an alleged telephone conversation between President Bacharuddin Habibie and Attorney-General Andi Ghalib published yesterday suggests the graft investigation focusing on ex-president Suharto is a farce.

Reuters - February 19, 1999

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – Indonesia is in the grip of an economic paralysis that cannot be broken until its debt-ridden, capital-starved companies can escape the straitjacket of their ruinous foreign liabilities.

Wall Street Journal - February 19, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's Parliament passed a law aimed at stamping out monopolies, cartels and other restrictive competitive practices.

The antimonopoly law, which must be ratified by President B.J. Habibie before it comes into force, will regulate mergers and acquisitions, and limit the amount of market share one company can attain.

Agence France Presse - February 19, 1999

Hong Kong – Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta said on Friday he had received commitments from Portugal and other Western nations to help finance East Timor's transition to independence.

Reuters - February 19, 1999

Canberra – Australian diplomats in Indonesia have warned in a series of confidential diplomatic cables that an independent East Timor would collapse into chaos and violence, according to a newspaper report on Friday.

February 18, 1999

Far Eastern Economic Review - February 18, 1999

Dan Murphy, Barro Pite – Martinho Fernandes stands four-square like an ageing middleweight, takes a pull on his beer and declares that he doesn't want to fight--but will if he feels he has to. And he may get that feeling. The 52-year-old civil servant leads a group of East Timorese who favour integration with Indonesia.

Agence France Presse - February 18, 1999

Jakarta – Dozens of students protested at the Indonesian military headquarters and the National Strategic Planning Board Thursday over the military's role in politics and alleged corruption in the use of foreign loans.

Agence France Presse - February 18, 1999

Jakarta – Opposition presidential hopeful Amien Rais has called on several Indonesian parties, mostly Moslem, to unite to prevent the return of current President Habibie to power later this year, newspapers reported Thursday.

Reuters - February 18, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Panicked Indonesian security forces shot a nun in the neck on Thursday as they tried to disperse a crowd in the eastern spice islands after a bomb blast, police and witnesses said.

Agence France Presse - February 18, 1999

Jakarta – An Indonesian soldier Thursday told a military court here that more than nine activists had been kidnapped by troops in the last months of the Suharto regime.

Agence France Presse - February 18, 1999

Surabaya – More than 10,000 workers gathered outside a large electronics and plastics factory in Surabaya, East Java, Thursday as their campaign for better working conditions entered its sixth day.

Agence France Presse - February 18, 1999

Surabaya – After days of mass protests by workers demanding better working conditions, the owners and management of a giant electronic and household gods factory in Indonesia Thursday announced it was willing to meet the demand of employees.

February 17, 1999

ABC Radio - February 17, 1999

[The following is a transcript of interview by ABC radio, Asia Pacific's Peter Mares.]

Evidence that Indonesian authorities are indeed honouring their pledge to allow jailed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao free access to the international media.

Detik - February 17, 1999

Jakarta – The Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) has decided to participate in the 1999 elections. The Chairperson of the Central Leadership Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (KPP-PRD), Faizol Reza, announced this at a press conference held in the offices of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) on Tuesday afternoon, February 16.

Associated Press - February 17, 1999

Jakarta – About 500 people rallied outside the attorney general's office Wednesday in a protest against a corruption investigation of former President Suharto.

The protesters said Suharto, who quit last May amid riots and protests against his authoritarian rule, was innocent and had been framed by his opponents. Suharto, 77, has denied any wrongdoing.

Agence France Presse - February 17, 1999

Jakarta – A teenager died in a violent clash between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian youth groups in the troubled territory of East Timor, the second victim of such clashes there this week, a report said Wednesday.

Agence France Presse - February 17, 1999

Jakarta – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said here Wednesday he had appealed to Indonesia to allow it to immediately step up its presence in East Timor, citing disturbing new tensions there.

Agence France Presse - February 17, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas on Wednesday assured investors they would not lose out if East Timor became independent and the Timor Gap oil agreement had to be renegotiated.

"If East Timor finally becomes independent, this matter would have to be renegotiated because the Timor Gap is just south of East Timor," Alatas told journalists at the state Palace.

February 16, 1999

Agence France Presse - February 16, 1999

Jakarta – Four junior Indonesian army officers undergoing a court martial for a series of kidnappings admitted on Tuesday abducting political activists in the last months of the Suharto regime.

Republika - February 16, 1999 (BBC summary)

Jakarta – The Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security, Faisal Tanjung, said that it was not inconceivable that civil emergency law would be instituted if rioting was to continue. Even so, according to Tanjung, President Habibie still refused to decide on initiating emergency law despite a number of his ministers supporting the idea.

Agence France Presse - February 16, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia will sponsor East Timor as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) if the troubled territory opts for independence, a senior official said here Tuesday.

Dewi Fortuna Anwar, foreign affairs advisor to President B.J.Habibie said it would be "in Indonesia's interests" if the former Portuguese colony joined the regional grouping.

Indonesia Observer - February 16, 1999

Jakarta – President BJ Habibie yesterday revealed, for the first time, military movements launched by Lieut.-Gen. [ret] Prabowo Subianto on May 22 last year following the downfall of former President Soeharto, Prabowo's father-in-law.

Agence France Presse - February 16, 1999

Jakarta – Some 50,000 people Tuesday attended the burial of a 25-year-old man shot dead during an incident between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian youths in the East Timorese capital of Dili, a report said.

February 15, 1999

Agence France Presse - February 15, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – An Indonesian church group has accused police of opening fire on unarmed villagers during the latest outbreak of Moslem-Christian violence to hit the eastern province of Maluku.

The accusation was made as President B.J. Habibie said Monday that the recent religious clashes in the country had their roots in economic problems.

Straits Times - February 15, 1999

Susan Sim, Jakarta – Institutional discrimination is still visible in Indonesia because the government has not removed its legal basis, human rights activists said as they took issue with President B. J. Habibie's recent statement that he has abolished all discriminatory policies here.

Jakarta Post - February 15, 1999

Jakarta – The newly-launched Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) lashed out at President B.J. Habibie for calling East Timor "a burden" and called on the nation to let go of the troubled territory.

Associated Press - February 15, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – The ruling Golkar party will nominate incumbent President B.J. Habibie as its candidate for Indonesia's upcoming presidential election, a party official said Monday.

Agence France Presse - February 15, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's military police have failed to identify any soldiers who opened fire during a student protest in Jakarta three months ago in which 13 people were killed, an official said Monday.

"Up till now the military police have not been able to find the shooters in the Semanggi incident," military police chief Major General Djasri Missin told a press conference.

February 14, 1999

Agence France Presse - February 14, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – At least 13 people were killed and 43 injured when troops and police opened fire to quell fresh Moslem-Christian clashes in Indonesia's troubled eastern province of Maluku on Sunday morning, residents and reports said.

Agence France Presse - February 14, 1999

Jakarta – More than 100,000 supporters of Indonesian opposition politician Megawati Sukarnoputri crowded into a south Jakarta stadium Sunday to endorse her candidacy for the presidency.

February 12, 1999

Agence France Presse - February 12, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – The newly formed National Awakening Party (PKB) has nominated popular Moslem leader Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid as its candidate for the presidency at the upcoming elections, a newspaper said Friday.

"This is serious. The PKB is nominating Gus Dur," PKB executive Muhaimin Iskandar was quoted by the Jakarta Post daily as saying.

Agence France Presse - February 12, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesian police opened fire on thousands of workers staging a protest in East Java, wounding four people while another was injured by a rifle butt, a report said Friday.

Some 3,000 workers at PT Sinar Indo Megantara in Surabaya held a protest on Thursday to demand the personnel manager resigns, the Republika daily said.

Straits Times - February 12, 1999

Jakarta – Influential Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid has warned that a social revolution in Indonesia could claim up to three million lives and all parties should therefore work to prevent the possibility of such a national disaster, the Indonesian Observer newspaper reported yesterday.

Asiaweek - February 12, 1999

Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – In the Indonesian political equation, the elements – Islamic groups, student fronts, opposition parties, military factions – are legion and ever-changing. Possible permutations – a coalition, a new government, martial law, absolute chaos – multiply daily. But in everyone's political calculus is one shadowy constant: Suharto.

Reuters - February 12, 1999

Patrisia Prakarsa, Jakarta – East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao said Friday dialogue was needed among all groups involved in East Timor to prevent the troubled territory descending into civil war.

Agence France Presse - February 12, 1999

Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – Indonesia would be solely responsible should civil war break out in East Timor, a member of Indonesian President BJ Habibie's supreme advisory council said here today.

Former East Timor governor Mario Viegas Carrascalao also scorned criticisms that East Timor would be a burden on its neighbours, including Australia, should it become independent.

Agence France Presse - February 12, 1999

Jakarta – The speed of Indonesia's change of heart over the future of East Timor, which could now become independent within months, has worried diplomats watching the troubled territory.

Officially other governments have welcomed President B.J. Habibie's statement Thursday that the former Portuguese colony of less than one million people could be independent by Janaury 1.

February 11, 1999

The Australian - February 11, 1999

Don Greenlees – Indonesian Justice Minister Muladi yesterday signalled that a ban on Nobel peace prize winner Jose Ramos Horta from entering the country could be revoked to enable him to join in talks on the future status of East Timor.

Jakarta Post - February 11, 1999

Jakarta – Under the watchful eyes of some 300 supporters of the defendants, the Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday conducted a speedy trial for all 55 student protesters arrested for holding an illegal rally on Tuesday.

Far Eastern Economic Review - February 11, 1999

By John McBeth in Jakarta and Dan Murphy in Dili – Antonio da Silva lost his left ear to pro-independence Fretilin fighters. He doesn't intend to lose anything else. That's why he's outside the office of Indonesia's military commander in East Timor, waiting his turn to ask for weapons.

Agence France Presse - February 11, 1999

Jakarta – Three out of 11 Indonesian soldiers being court martialled for a series of kidnappings Thursday admitted to abducting some political activists, a witness said.

Three junior officers from the elite army Kopassus special force described how they were involved in kidnapping eight pro-democracy activists.

February 10, 1999

Reuters - February 10, 1999

Terry Friel, Jakarta – Nestled in a leafy Jakarta suburb, number 47 Jalan Percetakan Negara VII is an unlikely place to decide the fate of a nation.

Gerry van Klinken - February 10, 1999

The armed forces (ABRI) includes the army, navy, air force and police. All are involved in repression in East Timor, but the army is the most important. Note that the lack of a civilian police force has been blamed as the cause of human rights problems by various UN rapporteurs on East Timor.

Washington Post - February 10, 1999

Keith B.

American Reporter - February 10, 1999

Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – In a move which surprised both supporters and opponents, Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri declared late last month that she cannot accept a new Indonesian proposal to give independence to the internationally-disputed East Timor.

Indonesian Observer - February 10, 1999

Jakarta – Forty-nine new political parties have registered at the Justice Ministry to contest the June general election, but only 17 have met administrative requirements, officials said yesterday.

Rasi Manopo, secretary of the ministry's registration committee, said 49 parties have applied to participate in the June 7 election since registrations commenced on February 5.

Agence France Presse - February 10, 1999

Jakarta – In a highly critical self-assessment the World Bank has admitted it may have overlooked warning signs as the "Indonesian miracle" faded because of a desire not to upset Jakarta.

Dow Jones Newswires - February 10, 1999

McCarthy, Jakarta – Indonesian elections and the prospect of a new government this year probably won't derail the country's major economic reform program, the International Monetary Fund's top official in Asia, Hubert Neiss, said Wednesday.

February 9, 1999

Agence France Presse - February 9, 1999

Jakarta – The initial findings of an investigation by the attorney general's office and the foreign ministry have failed to find any wealth or assets belonging to former president Suharto abroad, a report said Tuesday.