After more than 50 years of independence, Indonesian politicians and government officials are debating whether civil servants should be given the freedom to vote for any of the political parties or to vote for the ruling group only.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
March 21, 1997
Jakarta – An aide to a prominent former legislator has been arrested on charges of publishing a banned book by his boss that authorities say insults President Suharto, police said Friday.
How could it be, that nobody in Europe seems to mind that this Indonesian company, which is employing (or, rather, exploiting) female East Timorese workers, and is exporting its product to Portugal, regardless of the trade embargo between Indonesia & Portugal, is now becoming a NATO supplier?
A special course for senior Indonesian army officers planned by the Centre for Defence Studies of Kings College, London, has been scrapped following a wave of criticism within Kings College, from human rights organisations and in Parliament. An official announcement from the CDS is expected on Monday.
Yogyakarta – The United Development Party's (PPP) plan to bring the yellowization case to green, is not just a bluff. Seven PPP Regional Executive Board leaders of the Surakarta area agrred to sue Governor Soewardi, They officially authorized the case to the UII Legal Consultancy and Aid Institution (LKBH) Yogyakarta, on Monday (3/17).
Jakarta – A total of 273,653 hectares of rice field disappeared between 1980 and 1996, with an average of 17,000 hectares lost everyyear.
We have just received a report that human rights activist Saleh Abdullah has been arrested as part of a general crackdown on non-governmental organizations in Indonesia.
Manchester Magistrates today sentenced Stuart Cooper, 27 of Garwoods Road, South Manchester, to 14 days at Risley Prison (617 Warrington Road, Risley, Cheshire, WA3 6BP) for his refusal to pay court costs. The costs resulted from his conviction for criminal damage to a security perimeter fence at British Aerospace Warton, Lancs, in July 1996.
Jakarta – Indonesia's special forces chief Major-General Prabowo Subianto says the country's armed forces (Abri) need a larger budget to improve their professionalism, the official Antara news agency reported yesterday.
John McBeth, Jakarta – Mystery continued to hang heavily in the disappearance of Bre-X Minerals exploration manager Michael de Guzman Friday, as Philippine Embassy officials complained that the company's Jakarta office failed to respond to their phone calls and inquiries.
In a country where the army makes no bones about channeling its support to the ruling political group, Golkar, talk of factionalism within Indonesia's military always causes concern. In the past, such groupings were described as fluid. But foreign military sources in Jakarta say they have spotted a worrying new trend.
Agencies in Jakarta – The UN special envoy to East Timor said yesterday that productive talks were needed to achieve an acceptable global solution over the former Portuguese colony.
"The important thing is that the dialogue should continue... and we have to find means of ensuring that... it is productive," envoy Jamsheed Marker said after meeting President Suharto.
Jakarta – With 70 days to go before May 29 parliamentary elections, the military says it will crush any security threats and is threatening to arrest independent election monitors.
It was probably the first time that a person was arrested for issuing and sending greeting cards. Eraordinary! But, then, Sri Bintang Pamungkas greeting cards were also quite unusual.
March 20, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Australia is unlikely to follow the United States in expanding links with opposition groups in Indonesia and believes in the underlying stability of our northern neighbour despite increasing nervousness over recent civil unrest.
Stephen Labaton and Jeff Gerth, Washington – In late June of 1994, Indonesian businessman James Riady saw President Clinton and some of his aides in five days of White House visits ending on a Saturday.
Bandung, West Java – Foreigners will not be allowed to monitor the May 29 general election but will be permitted to observe the democratic process, Army chief of staff, Gen R Hartono said Tuesday.
Jakarta – President Suharto Thursday told a top U.N. envoy who is here to discuss the conflict in East Timor that Indonesia's annexation of the former Portuguese colony if final and non-negotiable.
In his meeting with envoy Jamshed Marker, Suharto said that 'for the people of Indonesia, for the Indonesian nation, the problem of East Timor is over.'
Jakarta – The trial of a PRD activist in the Jakarta state court on Wednesday (19/3), was again coloured by "walk-out" actions by the accused and defense lawyer. However in the trial of Garda Sembiring, one of the members of the panel of judges left the courtroom although the trial had not been closed by the presiding judge Madnjono.
Megawati Sukarnoputri: "... if my name is not among the list of candidates standing for election, many people will decide not to participate in these elections."
Geneva – Indonesia and other countries have sought barring East Timorese self-determination activist Jose Ramos Horta from addressing the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) standing in a podium, sources have said.
They said on Wednesday that Indonesia has pressured for Ramos Horta not to be granted the privilege.
Gerry van Klinken – Why is it so difficult to secure justice against the interests of the state? Because 'political' cases are sewn up outside the courthouse. But, if not in the courthouse, exactly where are these decisions made? In a little known but powerful club named Makehjapol, say lawyers widely quoted in the press recently.
Patrick Walters, Baucau, East Timor – Pope John Paul II yesterday delivered one of his strongest messages on the East Timor problem, calling for a truly just and internationally accepted solution as the Catholic church moved to consolidate its position in the troubled territory.
Semarang, C Java – A member of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has called on the government to set up a special team to fend off issues that tend to "corner" Indonesia.
Washington – The US Democrat Congressman, Patrick Kennedy, has proposed to the US Congress the cut of military aid to Indonesia included in the 1997 budget.
The proposal presented on Wednesday would cut an estimated US$26 million-military aid to Indonesia provided annually by Washington, unless Jakarta improves its human rights records.
S N Vasuki – A senior official of Indonesia's Armed Forces (Abri) has moved swiftly to end a raging internal debate on whether the army should now announce its preferred candidates for the presidential and vice-presidential positions in the March 1998 elections.
Alexander G. Higgins, Geneva – Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta rejected an opportunity Thursday to appear before the U.N. Human Rights Commission to champion East Timor's cause, accusing Indonesia of meddling.
Indonesian Ministers are due to take a decision approving plans for a 70,000 hectare oil palm plantation and transmigration project in the buffer zone of Siberut NationalPark in early 1997. With advice from Indonesian environmental NGOs, Down to Earth has sent the following letter to the Indonesian authorities urging them to withhold permission.
Jakarta – Soebadio Sastrosatomo's personal secretary, Buyung Rachmat Buchori Nasution was arrested by the police on Wednesday (19/3). In the arrest warrant Buyung was referred to as a suspect.
March 19, 1997
Jakarta – Sri Bintang Pamungkas, Julius Usman and Saleh Abdullah, suspects in a subversion case, Tuesday (18/3), have "boycotted" their investigation by the attorney general's office.
Assistant Secretary of State for basic rights and labour affaires, John Shattuck, visited labour leader Muchtar Pakpahan in hospital on Tuesday 18 March. He wanted to visit Pakpahan who is on trial for subversion to find out for himself Pakpahan's state of health. He spent thirty minutes with the labour leader.
Jakarta – The Indonesian Army is not "concern" with the US proposal to stop aid to the country because of its human rights violations, military sources in the Indonesian capital Jakarta have said.
Macau – The vice-rector of the University of East Timor, and other three Timorese, are currently under surveillance and may be detained by the Indonesian authorities, local resistance sources have said.
Army chief of staff General Hartono said the armed forces will take action against foreign observers of the elections who violate provisions in force in Indonesia. 'They can observe the election, as long as they stick to the rules,' he said.
Joe Leahy – East Timor's new bishop has issued a firm warning he will not back down on human rights issues and says he supports some measure of autonomy for the troubled province if it does not lead to civil strife.
Monsignor Basilio do Nascimento made the comments a day before he was due to take up his new post as the bishop of East Timor's newly formed diocese of Baucau.
[Plus Aberson trial update.]
Jakarta – Budiman Sudjatmiko along with his defense lawyers carried out a "walk-out" action on Tuesday (18/3) at the Central Jakarta state court.
Indonesia has ordered an unspecified number of armored personnel carriers from Ukraine's UKRSPETSE, the country's state-owned arms corporation, according to a top company official.
Andrei Koukin, UKRSPETSE's director general, disclosed the deal yesterday during a press conference at the IDEX '97 defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In local campaigning for national elections in May, parties are not afraid to nail their colours to the mast, even if they have to paint whole towns to do it, reports Herald Correspondent LOUISE WILLIAMS from Solo, Central Java.
Palembang – Two Hawk-200 aircraft purchased from the UK will arrive in Indonesia on Friday 21 March, completing the supply of 24 Hawk 200/100 contract. The other 22 are now at Ppekanbaru airbase.
Joe Leahy, Dili – East Timor's new Catholic bishop, Monsignor Basilio do Nascimento, is said to be a man who is willing to stand up for the rights of his people.
Jakarta – Around 20 youths calling themselves Komite Pemuda Indonesia (KPI, Indonesian Youth Committee) held an action at the attorney general's office demanding that Sri Bintang Pamungkans and his companions be released. They unfurled banners reading: "Release our friend".
"Then you leave. The court evicts the accused from the court...", said the presiding judge Asmar Ismail in the subversion trial of PRD activists, Thursday (13/3). The accused Suroso left smiling. Seeing this, defense lawyer Denny Kailimang cleared away his things moving to leave the court room.
Geneva – Indonesia and other countries were applying pressure Wednesday to stop East Timor nobel peace prize winner Ramos Horta addressing the UN Human Rights Commission from a podium, different sources here said.
March 18, 1997
All but four of those arrested in relation to disturbances in February in the Viqueque district of East Timor have now been released. Many are reported to have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in detention. The four still held are believed to be detained in the police headquarters in the town of Viqueque.
Jakarta – Ali Sadikin, a prominent figure of the Petition of 50, was questioned om Monday (17/3) by the Intelligence Operations Center of the Attorney General's Office for about an hour. Besides Ali Sadikin, information was also requested from former Information Department Secretary General Jusuf Ronodipuro.
Ong Hock Chuan, Jakarta – The Salim, Sinar Mas and Gajah Tunggal groups have retained the top three positions in the latest ranking of Indonesia's 100 largest conglomerates published by the monthly business magazine Eksekutif.
The Indonesian military has criticised a move in the United States Congress to cut off an estimated 26-million dollars in military aid because of Indonesia's human rights record, particularly in East Timor.
A military spokesman, Colonel Sutan Iskandar, said Indonesia was NOT impressed by the move, being sponsored by a Republican Party Congressman, Patrick Kennedy.
Baltasar Sebastiao H Belo, Jose Maria Geronimo, Joao Budiono C Moraes (Joao Budiono da Costa), Gregorio Sequira Bento, Luis Afonso, Abel Fernandes, Felciano Maria martins, Oracio Viegas, Celestino Soares, Claudino Guterres (alias Alau), Jose do Rosario, Constancio Soares
Jakarta, Indonesia – Shares fell sharply Tuesday on continued selling pressure in large-capitalization shares, led by Telekomunikasi Indonesia in moderate dealings.
The Jakarta Stock Exchange Index fell 11.495, or 1.7%, to its lowest level this year at 659.441. Decliners outnumbered gainers 103 to 38 with 43 shares unchanged, and 72 stocks were untraded.
Peter Kingston – A London university research centre's controversial plan to train senior Indonesian army senior Indonesian army officers is likely to be shelved this week because of the storm of protest it provoked after it was revealed in The Guardian.