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EINDHOVEN - It all started with power to the people, May 1998. Students took the streets to protest the government, in special President Suharto at that time. Within exactly one week of severe clashes, demonstrations and a big number of gruesome casualties, reformasi against Suharto was formally ended. He had stepped down, and since that was the main aim of the students, they celebrated for days in streets all over the country,especially in Jakarta.

Then a time of relative calm and peace came up. People seem to be very happy with the sudden and everlasting move of Pak Harto(1). He was no longer President of Republik Indonesia. For most people that ment a new era. Most students had only known Suharto as their only President ever.
After some drastic movements in the Indonesian politics, Habibie became the third president of RI. He tried his best to forget about Suharto, and to stay President for a somewhat longer time than was given to him at the end. Trying to forget Suharto is a thing that is much harder to accomplish than he thought in the first place.
While it was Suharto that helped B.J. Habibie get a life after his father was killed, and it was Jendral Suharto who paid for the little kids' education, brought him to Germany to study hard, graduated, and involved him in the Indonesian politics ever since he asked him in the seventies, Habibie promised to say goodbye to Suharto in one way or another.(2)

He didn't get the chance after all. Only after a few months he was forced to resign as the third president of RI. As elections were held in October 1999, tensions rose again. Would Megawati really become President of the biggest Islam nation in the world? Would that be possible ? No, of course not! It's not possible in Indonesia at all. People's choise Megawati will not be President in the future too.
GusDur got a little mayority of the votes in the National Assembly, MPR. In the MPR, some seats are still given away to people from the army. Though there are less seats for the army than during the iron reign of Suharto, they still have too much influence on the Indonesian politics. First step to democracy would be to abolish army-personnel from the government right away.

One year after, the country has more moved towards total collapse than I could ever imagine. I really had the positive feeling that because GusDur was an unknow person in the Indonesian politics, that he would get a fair chance. Maybe he already has had that chance, but I personally think it's a little short. In my eyes he was not able to change anything yet.
Due to Bulog-gate and Brunei-gate he has been restricted more and more at this moment. He is more in a paralysed ( not fysically ) situation. He is held for suspect in Buloggate, and in Brunei-gate he is assumed to have taken money from a Brunei leader. This money GusDur would like to give to victims of violence in Indonesia. Even that is not accepted from an Indonesian President anymore.

Pitty as it is, Indonesia's current President is the weakest ever. He isn't able to do anything anymore, in fact he is just waiting for orders. Probably his next order is to officially step down. That's not what I'm thinking of right no, because that will not be accepted by the Indonesian people too.
The army is currently fighting against every religious movement in the country, and is totally not responding to calls of the President not to fight their own people, but just the ones who are causing the major troubles.
Maluku province is a totally devastated area. It is sealed off for foreigners. Then the Indonesian government expects that the current most worse situation will improve on it's own. But when the media are gone, a murder is complied without any evidence, and that it wat the people want. No camera means no evidence, so they can, and certainly will continue until the last opposant has died.

Foreign embassies have to close their doors, because opposing Indonesian people, religious or not, are having trouble with the way the US acts in the Middle-East. In the first place they plegde against any US intervention on their tanah air, and after that they are protesting against the US in Israel too. The people who are demonstrating are the most violent people. Nothing can stop their believes.
Where big mobs take the streets to demonstrate in Jakarta and other Javanese cities, in Surakarta ( Solo ) those mobs make hostile entries to tourist hotels to beat out any US tourist. The US in Indonesia should be something of the past, they seem to think.
But it's not only all the same problem area's. Indonesia is more and more like some kind of Middle-East or South-East European area. Rapidly falling apart, and after that total war. It's far from total war at this moment, but in a time when clashes break out, and people get killed in Samarinda, Kalimantan, I very seriously doubt the governments capability of restoring law and order in Indonesia.

I'm not alone at this moments. Tourists hear the bad news as the first people on earth, and they will not go there anymore. US tourists are warned bu their department of foreign affairs not to go to Indonesia when they don't really need to. There is no special treath against US inhabitants, but they are just in danger everywhere.
The economists also have a renewed more worse opinion about Indonesia. If there is nothing done almost right away, the country will slide right into the hands of the devil again, risking a fresh deep economical crisis. And with the Rupiah hitting fresh year-lows against the US$ ( ironically enough ), this scenario doesn't seem too far away at this moment.

A look ahead promises fresh turbulence on Indonesia's islands. It won't be the earthquakes and landslides alone who will cause trouble. If the government is not capable of restoring law and order in the shortest time possible we will see renewed outbursts of violence, murder, revolution and reformasi. But who will tell us the people will accept the fall of the current President only ?

Selamatoo, Jeroen

1. Pak Harto - the 'popular' name of President Suharto ( ret. )
2. B.J. ( Bacharrudin Jusuf ) Habibie also did some school in Holland, and therefore visited an aunt in the Dutch southern province of Limburg. There he visited his aunt in Geleen.

Posted in Politics @ 01 November 2000 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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