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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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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".

January 13, 1998

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.

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.

January 12, 1998

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kabar dari PIJAR - January 12, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

A number of youth organisations went to Parliament on Monday, 12 January, to deliver a statement rejecting the nomination of retired General Suharto for president from 1998-2003.

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.

January 11, 1998

PIJAR's Tritura 1998 - January 11, 1998

PIJAR, the Network for Information and Change, has launched a new slogan, Tritura 1998, a Triple People's Demand, which calls for:

January 10, 1998

Info KNPD - January 10, 1998

[The following is a translation of an interview with Nur Hikmah the General Secretary of the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi, KNPD)]

South China Morning Post - January 10, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Chinese Indonesians were yesterday preparing for an eruption of social violence as the economic crisis threatened to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

"The Chinese here are very worried, because if there is any unrest they are always the first target," businessman Eric Lazuardi said.

Reuters - January 10, 1998

Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – Pressure mounted on Indonesian President Suharto on Saturday as the country's best-known opposition figure demanded the former general quit at the end of his term in March for leading the nation toward economic chaos.

January 9, 1998

East Timor Human Rights Centre - January 9, 1998

Six East Timorese men will now go to trial for their alleged involvement in the manufacture and possession of home-made bombs. The trials are expected to commence soon.

Agence France Presse - January 9, 1998

Jakarta – Army troops patrolled the streets of Karawang town east of here Saturday a day after rioting and looting left two dead when police opened fire to stem the violence, residents said.

January 8, 1998

Tapol - January 8, 1998

The rupiah fell in value today, Thursday, to below 10,000 to the dollar, from just over 8,000 on Wednesday.

BBC World Service - January 8, 1998

Shops in Jakarta are reporting panic buying by people worried about price rises after another days sharp falls in the value of the rupiah. Some shops have closed altogether because they have run out of stock. The rupiah fell to a record low level, ending down eighteen per cent.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 8, 1998

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.

Far Eastern Economic Review - January 8, 1998

Salil Tripathi, Jakarta – When it comes to cronyism, few can match Indonesia's first family. The six children of President Suharto seem to have a finger in every corporate pie, thanks to the myriad contracts, equity stakes and exclusive licences handed them over the years.

The Guardian - January 8, 1998

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.

Far Eastern Economic Review - January 8, 1998

Margot Cohen, Jakarta – The rupiah has plunged and urban unemployment is up. Hard times for Indonesia – and hard times call for courage, not caution. That was the message hammered home on December 28, when an unprecedented gathering of Muslim leaders and intellectuals rejected the prospect of a seventh term for 76-year-old President Suharto.

January 7, 1998

Media Indonesia - January 7, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

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.

Financial Times - January 7, 1998

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

Media Indonesia - January 6, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

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.

Lusa - January 6, 1998

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.

National Committee for Democratic struggle (KNPD) - January 6, 1998

I. Background

January 5, 1998

Associated Press - January 5, 1998

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.

Asiaweek - January 5, 1998

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.

Kompas - January 5, 1998

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.

Tapol - 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.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 5, 1998

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.

January 3, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - January 3, 1998

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.

Irish Times - 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.

January 2, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - 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

Agence France Presse - January, 1998 (extracts only, posted by Tapol)

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.

National Committee for Democratic Struggle (KNPD) - January 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.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 1, 1998

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

Media Indonesia - December 31, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

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.

MateBEAN - 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.

Tapol - December 31, 1997

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.

December 30, 1997

Based on a report in Kompas - December 30, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

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 Post - 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.

Business Week - December 29, 1997

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

Alliance of Independent Journalists - December 28, 1997 (Slightly abbreviated translation by Tapol)

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

PBHI - 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

Jakarta Post - December 24, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

Jakarta – Human rights activists predicted yesterday that Indonesia's human rights record and legal condition would see no improvement next year.