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.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
January 8, 1998
The rupiah fell in value today, Thursday, to below 10,000 to the dollar, from just over 8,000 on Wednesday.
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.
January 7, 1998
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.
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.
January 6, 1998
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.
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.
January 5, 1998
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 31, 1997
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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
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.
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 – Human rights activists predicted yesterday that Indonesia's human rights record and legal condition would see no improvement next year.
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.
[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].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
December 22, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta – It's close to 3am and business is brisk behind the heavy velvet curtain shielding the back room from the jarring beat on the crowded dance floor of one of Jakarta's most expensive night clubs.
Journalists and activists who attended a press conference which had been called to announce the results of a referendum held by the Gajah Mada University student body were disappointed and angry when they were told that the results would after all not be announced. The committee which had organised the event asked the journalists 'to understand' their position.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Soeharto has dismissed half the directors of the country's central bank and established a group of private sector advisers amid a growing struggle over economic policy.
Jakarta – Indonesia President Suharto, in a meeting with the nation's top business leaders Monday, said the central bank has spent 10% of its reserves, or $2 billion, intervening on behalf of the nation's currency in recent months.
He added, however, that the $18 billion remaining in reserves is enough to cover 4.5 months of imports.
Jay Solomon and Kate Linebaugh, Jakarta – Indonesian President Suharto Monday decided on a reshuffle at the country's central bank, reasserting control over economic policy following nearly a two-week absence from his daily duties due to ill-health.
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.
14,000 troops are being mobilised to secure the capital in a special operation over the coming holidays. Ten thousand of the troops will be from the police and the remaining four thousand from the army.
Human Rights Watch strongly protests the eight-year sentence handed down on December 18 to Indonesian human rights activist Agustiana bin Suryana after he was convicted of subversion by a court in Tasikmalaya, West Java.
As fears grow over the health of Indonesia's President Soeharto, so does talk of who may succeed him. David Jenkins look at who's who among the likely contenders.
When Indonesians talk about General Wiranto, the army chief whose effortless ascendancy coincides with deepening fears about the post-Soeharto future, they make little attempt to disguise their admiration.
Baucau – The Baucau District Court in East Timor has passed jail terms on three local youths found to have committed a subversive act against the Indonesian government. The three youths are Muhammad Amin, 19, Fortunato Ximenes, 31, and Alvino Freitas, 19. All of them have been sentenced to 17 years in prison minus their detention time.
Jakarta – Four East Timorese rebels convicted in a grenade attack that killed 17 Indonesian security agents were sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.