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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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March 30, 2000

Business Times - March 30, 2000

Shoeb Kagda – Concern over the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delaying its next loan payment of US$400 million to Indonesia sent the rupiah skidding yesterday to its lowest level in over two months.

The Indonesian currency fell to as low as 7,630 against the US dollar in morning trade before recovering later to close at the 7,600-level.

Washington Post - March 30, 2000

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Dili – Louis Nkopipe spent last week in the sweltering Dili courthouse conducting a crash course on elementary legal principles. "Defendants are presumed innocent," intoned Nkopipe, a French lawyer, at the start of one lecture. "And they have the right not to incriminate themselves."

March 29, 2000

Straits Times - March 29, 2000

Jakarta – The Indonesian government will pay out 495.8 billion rupiah (S$112 million) in subsidies for the poor and public transport operators to offset planned fuel price hikes.

A total of 164.8 billion rupiah had been earmarked for subsidies to the poor to buy kerosene, the deputy chairman of the National Development Planning Board, Muhammad Abduh, said.

Straits Times - March 29, 2000

Jakarta – A close friend of former president Suharto was detained yesterday by the Attorney-General's office in connection with an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds involving an Indonesian government contract.

Jakarta Post - March 29, 2000

Singapore – The chief of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) said Tuesday top Indonesian ministers have given "verbal" approval to issue bonds to bail out 48 companies indebted to IBRA.

Agence France Presse - March 29, 2000

Hundreds of Indonesian illegal immigrants rioted at a holding centre in Johor. Local newspaper reports quoted an Indonesian consulate official as saying that the riot began after a detainee was allegedly assaulted by a guard and sent to hospital.

Green Left Weekly - March 29, 2000

Pip Hinman – Indonesian House of Representatives speaker and Golkar faction leader Akbar Tandjung wants the Abdurrahman Wahid government to ratify the draconian security law which was pushed through a depleted parliament during the last hours of the B.J. Habibie government on September 24.

Green Left Weekly - March 29. 2000

Comment by Max Lane – Socialists and progressive people face an important challenge in the coming few years to match the "solidarity" the Australian ruling class is extending to the new government of Indonesia and to any new conservative elite who may emerge as rulers in East Timor.

Jakarta Post - March 29, 2000

Editorial and opinion – Competing agendas remain one hindrance to reform within the Indonesian Military, says Damien Kingsbury, the Executive Officer of Monash Asia Institute, who recently wrote Guns and Ballot Boxes: East Timor's vote for independence.

March 28, 2000

Stratfor Global Intelligence Update - March 28, 2000

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has proposed breaking his country's reliance on the United States for military equipment. He proposed that instead the domestic defense industry expand along with a network of international suppliers. Wahid appears to be seeking leverage for an upcoming visit to Washington.

Straits Times - March 28, 2000

Semarang – Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said yesterday that his government will propose that the country's next president and vice-president be elected directly by the people in 2004.

Jakarta Post - March 28, 2000

Medan – The provincial authorities have banned the Aceh Community Congress (Konggres Masyarakat Aceh), scheduled to begin on Monday and last through Friday, citing security reasons.

March 27, 2000

Agence France Presse - March 27, 2000

Jakarta – An armed mob yesterday torched a market in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesia's eastern province of Irian Jaya, after a youth was stabbed by migrant traders, police said.

"The Entrop market was burned to the ground this morning but the fire has now been put out," said Sergeant Major Bahar from the Irian Jaya police headquarters.

Agence France Presse - March 27, 2000

Jakarta – Three generals, allegedly involved in quashing a 1984 riot in Jakarta when scores of Muslim militants died, have been identified by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) and will be summoned for questioning.

Straits Times - March 27, 2000

Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid said Indonesia must develop its own military industries, diversify its weapons- sourcing and move away from dependence on the United States.

The Melbourne Age - March 27, 2000

Paul Daley, Canberra – Indonesian military figures associated with the discredited Suharto regime are deliberately smearing Australia with unsubstantiated allegations of unauthorised RAAF spy flights over the archipelago, senior Australian defence and intelligence figures claim.

Indonesian Observer - March 27, 2000

Jakarta – The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) – a watchdog body that monitors abuses involving corruption, collusion, and nepotism (KKN) – commented that President Wahid has not yet significantly combatted corruption in Indonesia.

International Herald Tribune - March 27, 2000

Michael Richardson, Jakarta – After sidelining the military and consolidating democracy in Indonesia, a country long used to authoritarian rule, the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid is under increasing pressure to speed economic reform efforts or risk losing the fragile gains in stability it has achieved.

March 26, 2000

Associated Press - March 26, 2000

Jakarta – Police found the remains of at least 34 foetuses yesterday at a burial site on the southern outskirts of Jakarta.

Police forensic expert Mun-Iem Idris said the foetuses, between three and seven months old, were believed to have been buried not far below ground-level in the past few months by a team of illegal abortionists working in the area.

March 25, 2000

Straits Times - March 25, 2000

Makassar – President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday said he supported a plan for the construction of three new naval bases – in Sorong, Sumatra and Java – to better assure security in this archipelago nation.

Straits Times - March 25, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesia's General Elections Commission (KPU), plagued by allegations of corruption, has elected a presidium to replace its chairman, retired General Rudini, who resigned recently for health reasons.

Agence France Presse - March 25, 2000

Jakarta – The people of Aceh are planning to hold an all-Aceh congress next month to seek a peaceful settlement to the problems of the troubled Indonesian province, organisers said on Wednesday.

Straits Times - March 25, 2000

Jakarta – Thirty years after the military dealt with a communist threat, the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) – the country's highest authority on Islam – is pressing the government to maintain the 34-year-old ban on the ideology and its teachings.

Agence France Presse - March 25, 2000

Jakarta – Three hundred East Timorese crossed the border to return home from West Timor yesterday, a week before Jakarta cuts off all assistance to the tens of thousands of refugees still holed-up in camps in West Timor, an official said.

March 24, 2000

Asiaweek - March 24, 2000

Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – "Indonesian politics these days is like a Chinese movie," says a disgruntled Indonesian former civil servant. If one imagines vengeful Chinese martial artists in combat, each threatening retribution on the other's descendants, one does indeed approach the petty vindictiveness and vicious skirmishes that now dominate Jakarta's elite politics.

Straits Times - March 24, 2000

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta – The Indonesian government's attempts to negotiate Acehnese demands for independence or autonomy will be fruitless unless violence in the province decreases, say human-rights groups.

Indonesian Observer - March 24, 2000

Jakarta – Ex-president Soeharto's children were under siege yesterday as son Bambang Trihatmodjo was questioned by state prosecutors while a company controlled by daughter Siti 'Tutut' Hardiyanti Rukmana faced a lawsuit filed by state toll road operator PT Jasa Marga.

Agence France Presse - March 24, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesian share prices, which fell 1.6 percent this week, are expected to remain flat next week due to a lack of positive sentiment and the market's disappointment with the announcement of the winner of PT Astra International's bid, analysts said Friday.

Australian Associated Press - March 24, 2000

Melbourne – Prime Minister John Howard today responded to overtures from Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid by praising Mr Wahid's leadership and democratic principles.

"I admire the courage that he's displayed in the time that he's been the president," Mr Howard said, after Mr Wahid reportedly spoke of a desire "not to leave him [Mr Howard] out in the cold".

Jakarta Post - March 24, 2000

Banda Aceh – Unidentified groups burned 11 school buildings in North Kluet in South Aceh in early hours on Wednesday, leaving Rp 1.8 billion in losses, police said.

Australian Financial Review - March 24, 2000

Tim Dodd, Jakarta – In a stunning reversal, Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid has praised the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, for his "strength" in sticking to his controversial views on Asia and offered to build a new relationship with Australia.

Jakarta Post - March 24, 2000

Jakarta – Calls for President Abdurrahman Wahid not to ratify the controversial state security bill continued on Thursday with the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) officially sending a letter requesting a review of the bill.

March 23, 2000

Australian Associated Press - March 23, 2000

Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – A team to be set up to pursue the investigation of massive human rights violations in East Timor last year has already drawn criticism over its composition and focus.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 23, 2000

United Nations – The United States, Britain and other Security Council members have urged Indonesia to keep its pledge to disarm militias that continue to attack East Timor and to end army support for the militia.

March 22, 2000

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

Dili – The small, unassuming office of the CPD-RDTL (Council in Defence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor) in Balide belies the debate that is brewing over the restoration of the independence which was declared by Fretilin on November 28, 1975.

Straits Times - March 22, 2000

Jakarta – The Indonesian government said it would investigate the alleged embezzlement of some 117 billion rupiah (S$23.4 million) by the General Elections Commission (KPU) during last year's polls.

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

May Sari, Surabaya – One thousand five hundred workers at PT Surabaya Meka Box in East Java, Indonesia, began a strike on February 21 to protest against the dismissal of three colleagues who were representing workers in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

Pip Hinman – Since his election five months ago, the new president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, has managed to create the impression that his is a people-friendly government. But how true is this?

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

Vanya Tanaja, Dili – Frustration and discontent spilt over into another demonstration here on March 7 as 300 job seekers gathered outside the offices of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor. The job seekers alleged collusion and nepotism in the appointment of local UNTAET workers, an allegation strenuously denied by the UNTAET human resources department.

South China Morning Post - March 22, 2000

Associated Press in Jakarta – Fresh violence broke out between Christians and Muslims in North Maluku killing five people and injuring dozens more, news reports said on Wednesday.

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

Pip Hinman – Roger Smith, an Australian who works for the American Centre for International Labor Solidarity, which is funded by the US government and the AFL-CIO, has been threatened with deportation from Indonesia. His "crime" was to liaise with and report labour movement activities there.

Jakarta Post - March 22, 2000

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta – Many cite law enforcement as the key to structuring a better way of life in Indonesia. But Indonesia's judicial system, one of the backbones of law enforcement, has yet to show any signs of change. Too often people claim that money, not the law, is the determining factor in legal decisions.

Associated Press - March 22, 2000

Dili – The success of East Timor's struggle to become an independent country is crucial in promoting stability throughout neighboring Indonesia, a visiting senior US official said Tuesday.

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

Jon Land – The recent spate of pro-integration militia incursions along the western border of East Timor highlights the failure and unwillingness of the Indonesian government to disarm its militia gangs in West Timor.

Reuters - March 22, 2000

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – Indonesia's plans to give regions more control over their finances are at the heart of the country's efforts to hold its disparate provinces together. But wrongly handled, they could blow its economy apart.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 22, 2000

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid has ordered a shake-up of the country's official news agency, Antara, removing its editor-in-chief and demanding it be more independent.

Agence France Presse - March 22, 2000

Banda Aceh – At least six civilians have been killed or found dead this week in the Indonesian province of Aceh which has been wracked by fighting between separatists and soldiers, police and hospital sources said Wednesday.

Green Left Weekly - March 22, 2000

The following is abridged from a statement by MUHAMMAD NAZAR, chairperson of the presidium board of the Aceh Referendum Information Centre (SIRA), to Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid, dated March 5. Violence and human rights violations by the state, through its military, are still in progress in Aceh.

March 21, 2000

Canberra Times - March 21, 2000

Lincoln Wright – The United States freighted state-of-the-art intelligence equipment directly to Canberra during the East Timor crisis, providing Australia with vital information about the Indonesian army and the militia groups that opposed independence.

Washington Post - March 21, 2000

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Dili – UN peacekeepers have concluded that the Indonesian military has been involved in a recent spate of attacks by paramilitary units across the increasingly tense border separating newly independent East Timor from Indonesian- controlled western Timor.