Joseph Kahn – Almost immediately after becoming president of Indonesia, B.J. Habibie pledged to create "a clean government, free from corruption, collusion, and nepotism." But one of the biggest threats to his rule may be growing concern that he and his family, following the model of former President Suharto, used public office to amass a private fortune.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
June 3, 1998
Surabaya – Hundreds of students marched yesterday afternoon to the private SCTV television station here demanding their demonstration for reform be broadcast and refused to budge until the station managers yielded.
The time has come for the Coalition government to withdraw all support for the corrupt New Order regime in Indonesia. Suharto may have gone, but the foundations of the Suharto dictatorship remain – foundations like the constitutional right of the army to intervene in politics and the outlawing of parties the dictatorship doesn't like.
June 2, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesia's economy contracted by 8.51 percent in the first quarter of 1998, the Central Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
Sugito Suwito, the bureau's chairman, also predicted that gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink by 10.1 percent this year, compared to the government's prediction in April that the economy would contract by 5 percent this year.
In a speech to mark the anniversary of 'Pancasila Day', 1 June, Megawati Sukarnoputri said she is feeling deeply troubled to hear the terrible things people are now saying about former President Suharto. She cannot believe that Indonesians would treat their former president in such a way, which, she says, is not in keeping with the Pancasila.
While Suharto's business associates spread far beyond his immediate family, the most intense focus of the crackdown is bound to be the businesses of his six children.
Jakarta – Emboldened by the success of student demonstrations for reform in major cities, fishermen, farmers and other groups are holding rallies to call attention to their own causes.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – When dozens of people entered a spacious house on the Gunung Sahari street in a bustling part of Jakarta on May 14, they knew that the high-fenced building belonged to Indonesia's number one tycoon, Liem Sioe Liong a.k.a. Sudono Salim. "The dog of Suharto," brayed one visitor.
Jakarta – President Jusuf Habibie has no plans to change Indonesia's policy on the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, the Jakarta Post reported on Tuesday.
At least 1,500 students took part in a free-speech assembly at the University of East Timor in Dili today, 1 June, according to a report received by TAPOL from local sources.
The event took place despite attempts by the University Rector, P. Theo T. Ralella to prevent it from happening.
June 1, 1998
Xanana Gusmao, ex-leader of the East Timorese guerrilla fighters who reject integration with Indonesia, has said that the Suharto regime is responsible for most of the problems in East Timor.
George J. Aditjondro – Rays of hope of Indonesia's democracy seem to emerge. Two of Habibie's relatives – a brother and a son – have stepped down from powerful public offices, four political prisoners have been released, and promises of a new election law and the repeal of the repressive press censor law have been made.
Jakarta – The Indonesian military has scheduled for Saturday the court martials of 19 soldiers suspected of gunning down student demonstrators on May 12, a report said Monday.
Fran Abrams – Britain has spent almost £300,000 on military aid to Indonesia since Labour came to power, new figures reveal.
The money spent by the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and, to a lesser extent, the Department for International Development – does not include the budget for promoting arms sales to the regime, which remains secret.
Jakarta – Students in several cities, in a move resembling their colleagues' stand in Jakarta recently, are occupying local legislative councils to make their demands heard.
May 30, 1998
Removing Soeharto was the easy part. Now Indonesia must grapple with his legacy of three decades of corruption and cronyism. Louise Williams reports.
Every day for the past two weeks Adi has stood in front of the charred shell of his electronics store in Jakarta's normally frenetic Chinatown district, the nauseating smell of burnt plastic lingering in the air.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto's richest son, Mr Bambang Trihatmodjo, resigned from the board of his Bimantara business empire yesterday as scores of protesters outside the company's headquarters demanded trials for the Soeharto clan.
May 29, 1998
The Indonesian forest fires of 1997 resulted in over USD 3 billion in damages, according to a study partly funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and released today in Singapore by the Economy and Environment Program for South East Asia (EEPSEA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Jakarta – Hot on the heels of an admission that its own soldiers are believed to have shot dead six student protesters, the Indonesian armed forces yesterday announced that senior police officers under its command were involved in the kidnapping of anti-government activists.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Habibie Government scrambled yesterday to set a timetable for political reforms, including new elections next year, as fresh student protests flared in the capital and provincial cities.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – President Habibie appears to have fended off attempts to quickly replace him with a deal yesterday to delay any meeting of the country's presidential election college until at least the end of this year.
The riots in Jakarta 13-15 May were probably the worst Indonesia has ever seen. In proportion almost equally devastating riots took place in Medan and surrounds (4-5 May), Palembang (13 May), and Solo and surrounds (14-15 May, with at least 19 dead). When President Suharto resigned, these events were somewhat overshadowed in the media.
May 28, 1998
Jakarta – Anti-government student protests flared again in Indonesia on Thursday, one week after the army evicted demonstrators from the Parliament complex in Jakarta.
Several hundred university students showed up at the main gate Thursday morning as President Habibie met inside with Parliament leaders to discuss his plans to reform the political system.
Nine students of Djuanda University (Unida), Bogor, West Java have disappeared following an incident on 9 May during which a police officer was killed. Initially, 29 were unaccounted for, but 17 have now returned home and three are under arrest. But nine are still unaccounted for.
The National Human Rights Commission said in a statement issued Wednesday that human rights had been violated towards students at Trisakti University who were being prevented from speaking freely. Several students at the university said they had been threatened by unknown persons who warned them not to give evidence to the Commission.
May 27, 1998
John Mcbeth, Jakarta – Already feeble at the start of 1998, Indonesia's ability to feed its 200 million people has weakened further in recent months. The triple whammy of a severe drought, an economic slump and political turmoil have exposed fundamental flaws in the country's strategy for agriculture.
Seth Mydans, Jakarta – Indonesia's political upheaval has worsened its severe economic problems, and a high-level team from the International Monetary Fund arrived here Tuesday to explore ways to restart its rescue package.
Richard Borsuk, Jakarta – The investigation of businesses linked to former Indonesian President Suharto's family and friends has widened, opening on several new fronts.
May 26, 1998
Lindsay Murdoch – Three churches claim they have obtained evidence that Indonesian soldiers are responsible for the deaths of at least 137 people during a military crackdown in Irian Jaya over 18 months.
May 24, 1998
Terry Friel, Jakarta – The wealth of new Indonesian President Jusuf Habibie and his family is beginning to draw the same attention that helped bring about the ouster of his predecessor Suharto.
May 23, 1998
Jonathan Manthorpe, Jakarta – As Bacharuddin Habibie announced Indonesia's new cabinet Friday, the question became whether former president Suharto had indeed stepped down or merely stepped aside.
Jakarta – Indonesia's newly-appointed Information Minister Lieutenant-General Yunus Yosfiah said today there would be no problems with media freedom if the local media was responsible and upheld their code of ethics.
Rod Mickleburgh, Jakarta – Hundreds of armed Indonesian soldiers stormed the parliament buildings here late last night, ending a five-day occupation by university students demanding an end to autocratic rule in the country.
Jakarta – The son-in-law of former Indonesian president Suharto was relieved of command of the prestige after he had resigned as head of state a day earlier.
Dana Priest – US officials believe that an elite US-trained military unit in Indonesia has been involved in kidnapping and torturing political dissidents, and Washington is considering a permanent ban on ties with the unit, US defense and diplomatic officials said.
Jakarta – Students in many cities continued rallying for reform yesterday, with most demanding a fresh presidential election through a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and the trial of former president Soeharto for alleged abuses of power.
May 22, 1998
Louise Williams – In the early hours of yesterday morning a deal was done – the last deal for President Soeharto.
His old ally, Mr Harmoko – the longest-serving Information Minister in Mr Soeharto's New Order Government, who helped manipulate and restrain the media to hide the realities of the President's rule – reappeared as executioner.
Indonesian soldiers entered the Parliament building Friday and ordered student protesters who have occupied the building for several days to leave.
After dark, dozens of military trucks arrived loaded with soldiers, who leapt out and started beating the students with sticks. The students had taken over Parliament to press their demands for political reform.
Jakarta – After pledging that his forces would protect ex-President Suharto and his family, powerful military chief Gen. Wiranto Friday rejected calls for an investigation into the former leader's wealth.
Since Suharto resigned Thursday, student protesters and other opponents have called for an inquiry into the fortune amassed by the Suharto clan during his 32-year rule.
May 21, 1998
David Storey, Washington, May 21 Reuters - The United States went through the final motions of an ungainly diplomatic dance as Indonesia's President Suharto, one of its old guard of allies from the Cold War days, slid reluctantly from power.
World leaders have welcomed the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, and have urged for a peaceful continuation of political and economic reforms.
Bernard Estrade, Jakarta – The Suharto family is one of the richest in the world worth up to $ US40 billion ($ A64 billion) according to some estimates.
That is similar to the figure that the International Monetary Fund and other countries pledged to help save the ruined Indonesian economy.
Following is an unofficial translation of Indonesian President Suharto's resignation speech.
My fellow countrymen. I have been following closely the recent developments in the national situation, especially the aspirations of the people for reforms in all aspects of the nation's life.
May 20, 1998
Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians marched against President Suharto across the nation Wednesday, while political leaders jockeyed for his ouster and the military took control of Jakarta.
On May 15, emergency pickets were held in many Australian cities to demand that the government cut all ties with the Suharto dictatorship and the Indonesian military, and to show solidarity with the Indonesian democracy movement. The protests were organised by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET).
[The following statement is being circulated by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) for endorsement.]
May 18, 1998
Harold Crouch, Canberra – President Suharto's three-decade rule seems about to end, but the succession is still far from clear.
May 17, 1998
John Hamilton, Jakarta - Jakarta is a city of fear ringed by steel as Indonesia hovers on the brink of rebellion and anarchy.
Yesterday I drove through the tense central city area where office buildings were locked and stores shuttered and barred.
May 16, 1998
Jakarta – Thousands of students and other demonstrators occupied the state Radio Republik Indonesia station at Semarang in Central Java and forced their demands to be broadcast, a report said yesterday.
An announcer read out the five demands on Friday and the broadcast was repeated an hour later, the official Antara news agency said.
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Indonesia said Saturday almost 500 people had died in the devastating riots which swept its capital this week as President Suharto moved to restore his shaken authority over the battered nation.