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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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February 9, 1998

Tapol - February 9, 1998

The Asian Executives Poll recorded in the Far Eastern Economic Review (5 February 1998) shows that most businesses in the region will have no confidence in an Indonesia under Suharto's continuing leadership.

Sydney Morning Herald - February 9, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Riots over rising food prices hit drought-stricken eastern Indonesia over the weekend as the chief of the armed forces led thousands of troops bristling with firepower in a daunting public display in central Jakarta.

Reuters - February 9, 1998

Jakarta – About 200 people attacked and set on fire shops and vehicles in an eastern Indonesian town in protest against price hikes, the Jakarta Post reported on Monday. It said at least 16 shops, two cars and two motorcycles were damaged or set on fire during the disturbances on Sunday in Ende town on Flores island.

February 8, 1998

New York Times - February 8, 1998

Seth Mydans, Semari – When hundreds of rough-looking men burst through the alleyways of the nearby town of Kraton two days ago, throwing stones and waving sharpened sickles, most of them came from here in Semari, a placid village of farmers and fishermen.

February 7, 1998

South China Morning Post - February 7, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesia yesterday estimated the country's foreign debt at US$137.4 billion – higher than previous official figures – and announced it was drafting a new bankruptcy law to deal with the nation's private debt. "Companies not able to solve their debt problems... must have a legal solution.

International Herald Tribune - February 7, 1998

Michael Richardson, Singapore – A senior U.S. commander has expressed concern that Indonesia could be on the verge of social and political instability. The question of domestic turbulence is critical to the U.S.

Reuters - February 7, 1998

Jakarta – At least two shops were burned and seven others damaged in an eastern Indonesian town on Saturday during a protest against price hikes triggered by the currency crisis, the official Antara news agency reported.

February 6, 1998

Lusa - February 6, 1998

Lisbon – The eight East Timorese who have sought shelter one week ago at the Spanish embassy in Jakarta left to Portugal on Thursday, a source at the diplomatic mission told Lusa.

The youth, with ages ranging from 18 to 29, are expected to arrive in Lisbon on Friday.

New York Times - February 6, 1998

Seth Mydans, Surabaya – At precisely 3 p.m. on Thursday, the heavy blue gate of the Gunawan steel plant slid open and hundreds of young men poured through to hear an announcement they dreaded. Would their factory reopen in the morning, and would all of them still have jobs if it did?

Sydney Morning Herald - February 6, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Unemployment in Indonesia has jumped by more than five million due to the economic crisis, it was revealed yesterday as the armed forces staged a show of force across Jakarta following rural food riots earlier this week.

February 5, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - February 5, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – The president of the World Bank, Mr James Wolfensohn, has conceded that the bank "got it wrong" in Indonesia, failing to predict the country's economic collapse and to prevent the growth of monopolies and corrupt practices.

February 4, 1998

Agence France Presse - February 4, 1998 (extracts only, posted by Tapol)

Singapore - A top Indonesian Muslim leader has accused President Suharto's children and associates of primary responsibilty for the country's debt crisis and likened their business operations to organised crime.

Associated Press - February 4, 1998 (Extracts only, posted by Tapol)

Opposition figure Megawati Sukarnoputri Wednesday called on her supporters not to take part in violent protests against the government despite an ongoing economic crisis. "Please avoid violent acts in any form", she said in a statement.

Her plea follows an outbreak of social unrest in several parts of the islands of Java and Sulawasi in recent days.

Wall Street Journal - February 4, 1998

By Jay Solomon and Kate Linebaugh

Jakarta – The world's fourth-most-populous country is running out of medicines.

February 3, 1998

Wall Street Journal - February 3, 1998

Raphael Pura, Jakarta – Trying to project Indonesia's political future has become a national obsession, as President Suharto prepares to begin his seventh term next month amid the toughest economic downturn in more than 30 years.

Jakarta Post - February 3, 1998

Jakarta – The Armed Forces (ABRI) reaffirmed yesterday its commitment to renominating President Soeharto even if there was a change in its leadership.

ABRI spokesman Brig. Gen. A. Wahab Mokodongan said the Armed Forces choice of Soeharto was part of its "strategic plan" to help restore the ailing Indonesian economy.

International Herald Tribune - February 3, 1998 (compiled by our staff from dispatches)

Jakarta – Violent protests have again erupted in key parts of Indonesia, with thousands of people burning shops as they challenged higher food and fuel prices, according to police and news reports Monday.

Wall Street Journal - February 3, 1998

Raphael Pura, Jakarta – Asia's crumbling financial markets have plunged Indonesia into deep trouble. But domestic politics could keep it there.

Southeast Asian nations are suffering from many of the same economic ills, but Indonesia stands alone in one critical way: More than any other major Asian nation, it is effectively run by one man.

February 2, 1998

InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS) - February 2, 1998

Kafil Yamin, Jakarta – Child malnutrition continues to be a blot on Indonesia's impressive record of poverty reduction in the last three decades.

The Buisiness Times - February 2, 1998

Yang Razali Kassim – Indonesia's political tension triggered by the financial crisis took a new twist last week when some prominent members of the elite, including the Wanandi brothers, were quizzed by the security authorities in connection with a bomb blast in the capital on Jan 18.

Dow Jones News - February 2, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's State Logistics Agency, Bulog, won't be releasing in February price controls it maintains over nine basic goods, including sugar, cooking oil, and wheat flour, Bulog President Beddu Amang said Monday.

February 1, 1998

Human Rights Watch (Asia Division) - February 1998

The rise in prices of basic goods such as rice and cooking oil has led to violent protests across Indonesia, much of it aimed at the ethnic Chinese minority who dominate the retail economy.

Agence France Presse - February 1, 1998

Jakarta – Fishermen angered by a poor catch and rising prices of basic commodities have rioted in Indonesia's Central Java province, a report said Monday.

Police in the northern coastal district centre of Rembang arrested 21 people over the unrest there and in several other nearby towns some 300 miles east of Jakarta, the Jakarta Post added.

Asiaweek - February 1998

Sangwon Suh – Lukman is a supervisor for a construction project in Central Jakarta. But the luxurious apartment complex the 38- year-old was helping build has been put on hold, a casualty of Indonesia's liquidity crisis and drastic economic slowdown. Lukman and his fellow workers are to be laid off.

Human Rights Watch - February 1998

Indonesia had one of the most tumultuous years in its modern history: economic collapse spurred student-led demands for political reform, bringing President Soeharto's three-decade rule to an end in May. His successor and protegé, Vice-President B.J.

January 31, 1998

Toronto Star - January 31, 1998

Paul Watson, Cikampek – On dust-blown flats that used to be good farmland, a grand shrine rises to honour the greed and sheer gall of Indonesia's first family.

President Suharto and his extended family have their fingers in every conceivable pie in Indonesia - from cellular telephone networks, to power plants, toll roads, banks, and oil and gas exploration.

January 29, 1998

Financial Times - January 29, 1998

Sander Thoenes, Jakarta – The International Monetary Fund is to approve its second tranche of (£1.7bn) in stand-by credits to Indonesia in February, earlier expected, in recognition of the country's radical reforms and bank restructuring, an IMF official said yesterday day.

January 28, 1998

Publico - January 28, 1998

Joaquim T. de Negreiros, Lisbon – Joao Carrascalao, Chairman of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), is unbending: UDT will not take part in the first resistance overseas congress. There are various reasons, but one determining factor is his rejection of Ramos Horta's status as Xanana Gusmao's overseas representative.

New York Times - January 28, 1998

Seth Mydans - Jakarta, Jan. 28 One,by one, most of Minarsih's friends at an electronics factory here were taken aside and quiety fired. Too ashamed to tell her, they simply disappeared, returning to the villages they had left years ago in search of fortune in the big city.

Reuters - January 28, 1998

Angry mobs have looted and trashed dozens of shops owned by ethnic Chinese in Indonesia"s Central Java province because of rising prices, an official said Wednesday.

The Guardian - January 28, 1998

Scapegoats are suffering for a financial crisis few understand. Nick Cumming-Bruce reports from Jember, East Java

January 27, 1998

Tapol - January 27, 1998

The Alliance of Independent Journalists has sent a strong protest to the Jakarta daily, Media Indonesia for sacking one of its journalists, Meilani Dhamayanti. She was sacked for her report of an interview with the chairperson of the PRD on 20 January. The item entitled "The person guilty of the bomb blast" included just one paragraph from the interview.

South China Morning Post - January 27, 1998

Jakarta – A prominent ethnic Chinese businessman said yesterday the military intelligence agency had cleared him of involvement with a bomb explosion in Jakarta last week.

Tycoon Sofyan Wanandi said military intelligence investigators had found nothing after an hour of questioning to link him to a bomb blast.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 27, 1998

John Aglionby, Jakarta – Forest and brush fires have flared up again in Indonesia and are threatening a bigger crisis than last year, when more than 2 million hectares were burnt and choking smog spread from Australia to Thailand.

Wall Street Journal - January 27, 1998

By Darren Mcdermott and Jathon Sapsford

Indonesia unveiled sweeping reforms of its bloated banking sector, but raised the specter of a debt moratorium as some Indonesian companies will be granted a "pause" in their foreign-debt payments.

The reform package announced Tuesday morning, buoyed Indonesia's fragile currency, which surged dramatically.

Agence France Presse - January 27, 1998

[This item shows the insidious campaign now being mounted by some top generals to hound the opposition and provoke anti-Chinese progroms. If they succeed, things could get very rough for minority groups up and down the country after the Chinese and Muslim festivities of this week come to an end - Tapol.]

The Australian - January 27, 1998

Andrew Perrin, Dili – The troubled Indonesian province of East Timor is facing yet another catastrophe - this one generated not by politics but by the failure of monsoon rains due to the El Nino effect.

January 26, 1998

Wall Street Journal - January 26, 1998

By Jay Solomon and Peter Waldman

Jakarta – The local office of the Crown Worldwide moving company has asked its insurer in London to clarify an urgent point for some concerned customers: Are household goods awaiting shipment covered against rioting?

Jakarta Post - January 26, 1998

Jakarta – The Armed Forces (ABRI) made a surprising decision yesterday to delay all planned arms purchases, including the Russian Sukhoi30K jet fighters.

Tapol - January 26, 1998

According to an AFP report on 23 January, the trial started in Dili of David Ximenes 44, who is being charged with "separatism". The charge carries a maximum sentence of life. (The report does not mention the article under which he is being charged.)

Sydney Morning Herald - January 26, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – In the first sign of a co-ordinated opposition movement, pro-democracy figurehead, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and Muslim leader, Amien Rais, publicly denounced President Soeharto yesterday in front of masses of cheering students in the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta.

January 25, 1998

Washington Post - January 25, 1998

George J. Aditjondro – Since seizing power in the mid-1960s, Indonesian President Suharto has translated his absolute political power into a massive family fortune. The Suharto family is worth an estimated $16 billion according to Forbes magazine, and $35 billion according to one estimate attributed to the CIA.

January 24, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - January 24, 1998

Indonesia's Chinese have risen far. But in accumulating wealth they have aroused envy, and as Louise Williams reports, when times get tough, they have further to fall.

Tempo Interaktif - January 24, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

The report starts with describing the situation at the Parliament building like a "market place" with protest delegations coming and going every day. These groups were allowed to proceed under the watchful eye of the security forces. The report provides a more in-depth report of a demonstration organised by a group called SIAGA (the name means READY)

January 23, 1998

The Age - January 23, 1998

Louise Willliams, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing the threat of hyperinflation after the rupiah plunged for a third day amid warnings of more price increases and rising social tension.

A senior Indonesian economist, Ms Marie Pangestu, said the currency's collapse was one of the most dramatic of any post-war economy.

Kompas - January 23, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

Jakarta – Although still in critical conditions and being monitored round the clock in intensive care, Gus Dur has begun a rapid recovery following a stroke several days ago. On Wednesday night, only one day following brain surgery, the leader of Nahdatul Ulama was already trying to get down from his hospital bed.

Associated Press - January 23, 1998

Geoff Spencer, Jakarta – Spooked by Indonesia's uncertain political future and worried about a mountain of debt, panicky traders dumped the rupiah Thursday, pushing the battered economy into a new phase of desperation.

Associated Press - January 23, 1998

Dirk Beveridge, London – The Asian financial crisis and falling oil prices have left Indonesia in a double bind.

Recent stock market plunges combined with the wildly tumbling rupiah has devastated the Indonesian economy, stirring unrest and food-buying panics, and spreading concerns that millions of people will suffer hard times for years to come.

The Wall Street Journal - January 23, 1998

Darren Mcdermott – Indonesia's financial system is teetering on the edge of paralysis.

January 22, 1998

The Wall Street Journal - January 22, 1998

By Darren Mcdermott and Jay Solomon

Indonesia's failure to present a plan for repaying a crushing load of corporate debt is helping sink the rupiah to new depths.