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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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May 27, 1999

Jakarta Post - May 27, 1999

Hermawan Sulistyo, Jakarta – Golkar's nomination of B.J. Habibie as its only presidential candidate has sparked heated debates. But what are his chances of winning the presidential seat? A glance at the expected voting structures reveals the possibilities for the presidential election to take place in September or October.

South China Morning Post - May 27, 1999

Vaudine England – Up the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan, hundreds of Dayak farmers have been occupying the base camp of an oil-palm plantation company since November.

Now two of their number are detained by local police and several have gone missing.

The company arrived in 1996 as part of a plantation expansion project supported by the International Monetary Fund.

Indonesian Observer - May 27, 1999

Jakarta – The replaced head of the official team investigating former president Soeharto's wealth, yesterday expressed doubt the Attorney General's Office will ever manage to complete the corruption probe.

Wall Street Journal - May 27, 1999

Raphael Pura, Krueng Geukueh – In his crisp safari suit and gleaming black shoes, sub-district officer Marzuki Muhammad Amin looks the very image of local authority as he strolls this dusty hamlet. With Indonesia's first free election in 44 years less than two weeks away, he says he should be exhorting fellow citizens of Aceh province to vote.

Agence France Presse - May 27, 1999

Jakarta – Voting in Indonesia's June 7 general election may be delayed in troubled Aceh province by up to a month because of recent violence, a report said Thursday.

"There is a possibility the elections will be delayed for security reasons," Home Affairs Minister Syarwan Hamid was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

Asiaweek - May 27, 1999

Jose Manuel Tesoro, Dili – While 110 million Indonesians decide the future of their nation, the 850,000 residents of its youngest province await their own fate – in conditions that are far more uncertain, and far deadlier. On May 14, the first permanent members of the new UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) arrived in Dili.

Sydney Morning Heral - May 27, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili – The United Nations mission in East Timor will remain until the vote on self-determination for the violence-prone province is completed successfully, a senior UN spokesman said yesterday.

"We're here until it's done, even if it is postponed," said Mr David Wimhurst, the spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission to East Timor.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 27, 1999

Hamish Mcdonald – Even before the UN Assistance Mission to East Timor (UNAMET) is fully deployed, diplomats and political leaders of concerned countries are discussing the option of postponing the autonomy-or-independence vote scheduled for August 8.

South China Morning Post - May 27 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – For the many thousands of rural Indonesians who have begun reclaiming their land by direct action, the country's new-found enthusiasm for democracy means more than a succession of noisy parades.

May 26, 1999

Business Times - May 26, 1999

Yang Razali Kassim – Is the Indonesian opposition's dream of a united front as good as shattered?

Agence France Presse - May 26, 1999

Jakarta – The only Indonesian political party leader behind bars, Budiman Sujatmiko, was allowed to campaign Wednesday inside the walls of Jakarta's high-security Cipinang jail.

Jakarta Post - May 26, 1999

Purwokerto – Police here dispersed hundreds of Democratic People's Party (PRD) supporters who attended a night campaign rally on Monday. The party supporters had flocked to Saudagaran square on Jl. D.I. Panjaitan when about 100 police came to disband the gathering on grounds that it violated campaign rules.

Australian Financial Review - May 26, 1999

Tim Dodd, Jakarta – Indonesia's Golkar party is under fire for using bribery to win votes, but the chief of the Jakarta chapter is very upfront about his tactics.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 26, 1999

Mark Riley, New York – The United Nations proposes sending a team of military advisers to East Timor in the face of continuing violence. The team would join a 280-strong UN police contingent ahead of the planned autonomy vote in August.

May 25, 1999

Jakarta Post - May 25, 1999

Tangerang – Dita Sari, jailed for subversion at Tangerang Women's Penitentiary, called for international organizations on Monday to press the Indonesian government for her unconditional release.

Straits Times - May 25, 1999

Lee Kim Chew, Banda Aceh – Fighting hard to protect its turf in deeply religious Aceh, the Islamic United Development Party (PPP) – one of the ruling parties in Indonesia – is going for the jugular.

Reuters - May 25, 1999 (abridged)

Maskur Abdullah, Medan – Violence flared on the Indonesian island of Sumatra Tuesday, with the military reporting six dead at the hands of separatists while a bloody confrontation also erupted between police and farmers.

South China Morning Post - May 25, 1999

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Golkar will be hoping its election day support will prove more steadfast than that offered by the motley crew bussed in yesterday for its first campaign rally, held in a dirty industrial wasteland in north Jakarta.

Australian Financial Review - May 25, 1999

Tim Dodd, Jakarta – Troops fired into the air in Jakarta yesterday to disperse an angry crowd which claimed the ruling Golkar party had broken a promise to give them money and food in return for acting as a rent-a-crowd at a party rally.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 25, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's opposition parties are certain to win parliamentary elections next month and to take the presidency later in the year, according to an opinion poll published yesterday. But none of the parties had anywhere near a commanding enough lead to form a government on its own.

Lusa - May 25, 1999

Lisbon – Pro-Indonesian militiamen launched a manhunt for an East Timorese resistance activist in the territory's capital, Dili, Monday night, with paramilitary groups surrounding four of the city's neighborhoods.

Reuters - May 25, 1999

Terry Friel, Wamena – Indonesia's first democratic election in four decades has hit trouble in remote Irian Jaya, where separatist passions have prompted some voters to boycott the poll and some ballots may not be delivered in time.

Separatists say they cannot accept the election and are prepared to die for their cause.

May 24, 1999

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

"Not one cent abroad"

Holed up in the family compound in Jakarta, Suharto declined repeated requests for an interview about his holdings. But Hong Kong bureau chief John Colmey met separately with two of the former President's lawyers, Otto Cornelis Kaligis, head of Suharto's eight-member legal team, and Juan Felix Tampubolon. Excerpts from the interviews:

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

Pramoedya Ananta Toer – As the Dutch writer Multatuli has stressed, it is the obligation of every human being to become human. Whoever murders his own kind, therefore, violates the basic principle of his existence. And murder, where there is no legal basis, is a crime against humanity. Simple logic, but it isn't simple in practice.

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

[A Time investigation into the wealth of Indonesia's Suharto and his children uncovers a $15 billion fortune in cash, property, art, jewelry and jets.]

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

By Jeffrey Winters – President Suharto opened his 1989 autobiography with memories of his simple childhood bathing in muddy canals in Java. "My roots are in the village," he wrote. From the start of his dictatorship in 1966, Suharto carefully cultivated an image not just of humble origins but of lifelong simplicity.

Jakarta Post - May 24, 1999

[Political and legal issues, including investigating former president Soeharto and the threat of separatism, dominate the current political campaign. Economic issues, including those on foreign investment and the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are barely touched upon by any political party during their campaign.

South China Morning Post - May 24, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – Prospects of a free and fair election in the troubled province of Aceh are fading by the day, and the presence of extra troops may be a hindrance rather than a help.

"Yes there are several areas in Aceh with problems," said a source at a main independent election monitoring organisation.

May 22, 1999

World Socialist Web Site - May 22, 1999

Peter Symonds – Only a few days after its formation on Monday, the alliance forged between three of the major opposition parties standing in the Indonesian elections on June 7 is showing signs of disarray.

The Australian - May 22, 1999

Cameron Stewart and Don Greenlees – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been advised the UN-sponsored vote on autonomy for East Timor might not be possible if violence in the territory remains at current levels.

May 21, 1999

Reuters - May 21, 1999

Jonathan Thatcher, Jakarta – Indonesia on Friday abruptly changed the date for East Timor's independence vote, a move greeted with astonishment by Portugal and the United Nations, which had settled on a poll for August 8.

Jakarta said the troubled former Portuguese colony would now go to the polls a day earlier, on a Saturday.

Reuters - May 21, 1999

Jakarta – Thousands of Indonesian students took to the streets in the country's second city of Surabaya on Friday to mark the anniversary of reviled President Suharto's ouster.

Witnesses said campaign activities by political parties for June's general election in the city were overwhelmed by the large number of student protesters.

Agence France Presse - May 21, 1999

Jakarta – Troops fired warning shots as thousands of students shouting "Hang Suharto" tried to storm parliament on the first anniversary of the downfall of the former strongman here Friday.

Jakarta Post - May 21, 1999

Jakarta – Tensions marked the second day of campaigning in several volatile areas across the country, including Pidie in Aceh, where hundreds of Geulumpang Tiga villagers attacked and burned a United Development Party (PPP) van to drive home the message that they do not want a general election but a referendum.

Kompas - May 21, 1999

Jakarta – The ministry of State Enterprise Empowerment acknowledged that it has channelled soft loans to small and medium scale businesses through the ruling Golkar party. The move is seen by many people as an attempt by Golkar to buy votes ahead of the election, said Sofyan A. Djalil, communication deputy for the ministry.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 21, 1999

Mark Dodd, East Timor – United Nations investigators have seen Indonesian Army personnel training loyalist civilian militia in this East Timor town, throwing doubt on Jakarta's promise to ensure the neutrality of its military before the territory's independence vote.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 21, 1999

Mark Dodd, Atsabe – United Nations investigators believe that their surprise arrival in this highland town on Wednesday may have stalled plans for a second attack by pro-Indonesian militias.

May 20, 1999

New York Times - May 20, 1999

David E. Sanger, Washington – Top Clinton administration officials said Wednesday that they had pressed the World Bank to make sure that more than a billion dollars in aid to Indonesia was held up for several weeks so that the country's government could not use it to buy votes in the first free election there in more than 40 years.

Straits Times - May 20, 1999

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta – As Indonesia's election campaign kicked off, analysts here predict that the ruling Golkar still has a strong chance of winning, despite poll predictions placing Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-Struggle as the most popular party.

May 19, 1999

Sydney Morning Herald - May 19, 1999

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – President B.J. Habibie's campaign to be elected at June polls suffered a serious blow yesterday when three main Indonesian opposition parties formed a united front against him.

Opposition leaders agreed to put aside key policy differences, including on East Timor, to form a bloc for the country's first free elections in 44 years.

Agence France Presse - May 19, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesia's electoral campaign got off to a lacklustre start in the troubled territory of East Timor Wednesday, largely ignored by a population gripped by fractional violence ahead of a UN-monitored ballot on self-determination in August.

May 17, 1999

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta – A year after Indonesia's long-time president Suharto handpicked his protege B.J. Habibie to succeed him, the German-trained technocrat is still battling to shed his image as the former strongman's "favorite child", analysts say.

Habibie himself said after taking power on May 21, 1998, that he was aware of questions about the legitimacy of his presidency.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta – Former Indonesian president Suharto has ordered lawyers to sue Time magazine over a report that it had traced 15 billion dollars accumulated by him and his family, a report said Monday.

"All of the reports on Suharto by Time in this week's edition are big lies," the evening Berita Buana daily quoted Suharto lawyer Felix Tampubolon as saying.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta – Two witnesses at the corruption trial of a son of former president Suharto on Monday retracted statements that a company he controlled had caused millions of dollars of losses to the state.

South China Morning Post - May 17, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – Residents of the Maluku province capital, Ambon, were burying their dead from the latest outbreak of mob anger and military killing yesterday as violent unrest continued further east in Tual, capital of the Kai Islands.

Hundreds of troops and police patrolled the streets of Ambon and fired occasional warning shots yesterday.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta – A total of 48 political parties are contesting Indonesia's June 7 elections, the first since the fall of president Suharto whose Golkar party swept all polls under his 32-year rule.

Only a handful – including two of the three parties allowed by the Suharto government – are expected to make a significant showing. Campaigning starts Wednesday.

May 15, 1999

Sydney Morning Herald - May 15, 1999

Indonesia faces its first post-Soeharto elections with fears of mob violence not just during the polls but afterwards, as Louise Williams reports.

Mas Damon has a mob for hire – 30,000 or so tough, young men and women, all with basic military and crowd control training, ready to do anything for anybody, so long as the price is right.

South China Morning Post - May 15, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – The nomination of President Bacharuddin Habibie as the sole presidential candidate of the Golkar party is a sign not of the President's personal popularity but of the continuing dominance of money politics, party insiders say.

May 14, 1999

Agence France Presse - May 14, 1999

Jakarta – Scores of farmers were arrested and 11 were missing from villages in Indonesia's West Java province after a protest over a land dispute, a rights group said Friday.

Agence France Presse - May 14, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar party agreed early Friday to nominate President B.J. Habibie as its sole candidate for the next presidency to be decided in November, the official Antara news agency said.

Habibie, 62, was vice president when former president Suharto stepped down amid widespread protests last year, and named him as his successor.