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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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January 27, 1998

Agence France Presse - January 27, 1998

[This item shows the insidious campaign now being mounted by some top generals to hound the opposition and provoke anti-Chinese progroms. If they succeed, things could get very rough for minority groups up and down the country after the Chinese and Muslim festivities of this week come to an end - Tapol.]

The Australian - January 27, 1998

Andrew Perrin, Dili – The troubled Indonesian province of East Timor is facing yet another catastrophe - this one generated not by politics but by the failure of monsoon rains due to the El Nino effect.

January 26, 1998

Wall Street Journal - January 26, 1998

By Jay Solomon and Peter Waldman

Jakarta – The local office of the Crown Worldwide moving company has asked its insurer in London to clarify an urgent point for some concerned customers: Are household goods awaiting shipment covered against rioting?

Jakarta Post - January 26, 1998

Jakarta – The Armed Forces (ABRI) made a surprising decision yesterday to delay all planned arms purchases, including the Russian Sukhoi30K jet fighters.

Tapol - January 26, 1998

According to an AFP report on 23 January, the trial started in Dili of David Ximenes 44, who is being charged with "separatism". The charge carries a maximum sentence of life. (The report does not mention the article under which he is being charged.)

Sydney Morning Herald - January 26, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – In the first sign of a co-ordinated opposition movement, pro-democracy figurehead, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and Muslim leader, Amien Rais, publicly denounced President Soeharto yesterday in front of masses of cheering students in the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta.

January 25, 1998

Washington Post - January 25, 1998

George J. Aditjondro – Since seizing power in the mid-1960s, Indonesian President Suharto has translated his absolute political power into a massive family fortune. The Suharto family is worth an estimated $16 billion according to Forbes magazine, and $35 billion according to one estimate attributed to the CIA.

January 24, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - January 24, 1998

Indonesia's Chinese have risen far. But in accumulating wealth they have aroused envy, and as Louise Williams reports, when times get tough, they have further to fall.

Tempo Interaktif - January 24, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

The report starts with describing the situation at the Parliament building like a "market place" with protest delegations coming and going every day. These groups were allowed to proceed under the watchful eye of the security forces. The report provides a more in-depth report of a demonstration organised by a group called SIAGA (the name means READY)

January 23, 1998

The Age - January 23, 1998

Louise Willliams, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing the threat of hyperinflation after the rupiah plunged for a third day amid warnings of more price increases and rising social tension.

A senior Indonesian economist, Ms Marie Pangestu, said the currency's collapse was one of the most dramatic of any post-war economy.

Kompas - January 23, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

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.

Associated Press - 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.

Associated Press - January 23, 1998

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.

The Wall Street Journal - January 23, 1998

Darren Mcdermott – Indonesia's financial system is teetering on the edge of paralysis.

January 22, 1998

The Wall Street Journal - 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.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 22, 1998

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.

Straits Times - January 22, 1998

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.

Far Eastern Economic Review - January 22, 1998

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.

MateBEAN - January 22, 1998

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.

MateBEAN - January 22, 1998

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

Big Issue Magazine - 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.

Straits Times - January 21, 1998

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

Green Left Weekly - 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.

Lusa - January 20, 1998

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

The Wall Street Journal - 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.

Business Week - January 19, 1998

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.

East Timor Human Rights Centre - January 19, 1998

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.

Kyodo - January 19, 1998

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

New York Times - 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.

South China Morning Post - January 17, 1998

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

Reuters - 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.

The Melbourne Age - January 16, 1998

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 Post - January 16, 1998

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

Republika - January 15, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

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.

South China Morning Post - January 15, 1998

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.

Agence France Presse - January 15, 1998

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.

East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) - January 15, 1998

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

Kompas - January 14, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

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.

The Melbourne Age - January 14, 1998

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".

Reuters - January 14, 1998

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

Reuters - 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.

Sydney Morning Herald Editorial - January 13, 1998

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.

Tapol - January 13, 1998

It has been reported that a National Dialogue will take place on Friday, 16 January.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 13, 1998

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

South China Morning Post - 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.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 12, 1998

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 Post - January 12, 1998

Jakarta – Two prominent government critics supported yesterday Megawati Soekarnoputri's bid for presidency, lauding the bold move as a boost for democratization.

Reuters - January 12, 1998

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.

AFX-ASIA - January 12, 1998

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.

Tapol - January 12, 1998

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.