EINDHOVEN - Indonesia is still in crisis. Currently violence flares up again in Aceh. The battle for independence has revived. And Aceh is not the only place, on the Moluccas Christians and Muslems are still fighting eachoter over the most stupendous things, and elsewhere in Indonesia the situation is tense every once in a whyle. Currently about 95% of Indonesias population is subjected to Ramadhan, Islamic fasting. Until almost the end of december they will not eat between sunrise, and sunset, they will not enjoy a sigarette, have sex, and that kind of things. I will skip the part of the explaination or Ramadhan, because I'm not into that at all.
Violence in Aceh rose several weeks before Ramadhan actually started. Demonstrations in cities like Banda Aceh caused rising tensions all over Indonesia, afraid that more heavy violence will cause new terror in the region, prompting renewed economical tensions in the region. Since the economy is still very bad, they try to prevent in all manners any new violence on the archipelago. Since Ramadhan started, quiet has returned, and nature took over the violence, killing over one hundred people in Northern Sumatera floodings and landslides, and leaving at least the same amound injured or missing, could that be the punishment from above?
On the Moluccas it also seems somewhat more quiet than it has been in the previous weeks. Less people get killed in streetclashes or other violence. People are resting, and maybe gathering courage to ygo out fighting again after Ramadhan. That's probably what most fear. Sometimes rumours can spoil a mens day out. The streets of Ambon can be horrific empty one day, because of rumours of clashes which were announced the same day. Eventually nothing happened, but after all they could say they had a quiet day. A day without fighting is almost as big news as a day on which a village full of people gets slaughtered on one of the Moluccan islands.
More rest can be found on the mayor cities on Jawa and Sumatera. Medan for example. After the Ramadhan started, no bombing have been reported, and therefore the greatest threat of that city has been vanished away, for at least some time. Jakarta also has had her portion of explosions. The explosion in the JSX building killed 15 peope not too long ago. An explosio causing big tremors throughout the Indonesian economical situation. A mayor sell-off caused the JSX to plunge around 5 per cent that day. The day after investors and analysts told the mayour sell-off way only partly caused by the explosion, but mainly by the fact that the market doesn't earn levels much higher than about 400 points.
The raids from youngsters on hotels with foreign guests in Solo caused the next tremor in Indonesia, this time it were the tourists that were victimized, forced to leave their hotels and to travel home again. Mostly American tourists were victims, since anti-American sentiments have been on the rise for a few months already. This also causes demonstrations all over the country. Making clear that the Indonesians don't want to know about foreign intervention. No foreign intervention as long the US has anything to say on that. Now it's Ramadhan-time, those protests have cooled down too, causing an almost eerie quietness on certain occasions.
Furthermore the country's political situation is also a big concern to many Indonesians. GusDur doesn't apply to the many needs of the country. He'sin no way capable of forfilling any needs, and doesn't do anything big to repress the looming economical crisis. A crisis ready to strike the country once more, also endangering other Asian countries. The President truly has fierce opposition to his presidency, but who can really be his successor? Demonstrators so far only demand GusDur's resignation, because he's not functioning good enough, and he's only travelling abroad for meetings like OPEC and ASEAN.
Right now Indonesian demonstrators want to see immediate results of what they demand. If they demand higher minimum wages, they go on strike, go demonstrate, or something like it, to demand an wage hike. After a few months GusDur, more likely his government, decided to raise minimum wages by as much as twenty per cent in most Indonesian area's, the others are still waiting for a minimum-wage hike, which will certainly be accomplished in the beginning of next year. This wage-hike is the first since the country started to feel the economical crisis late 1997. In fact people getting these wages are barely capable of improving their living standard. To accomplsih that they should see an increase of at least 100% in the coming months.
Now were talkig about money. For the latest information about that you can go to the website of Bank Indonesia. Most banknotes are fairly old, but Bank Indonesia started to replace old ones last year. At first old Suharto-face-notes ( Rp.50.000 ) were replaced by new more brightly-colored smooth banknotes with Soekarno and Hatta on it. Soon after that Bank Indonesia started to replace smaller banknotes as the Rp.20.000, but not before they introduced the big banknotes wich carries the print of five zero's. The Rp.100.000 banknote is one with a little plastic thing in it, and a gold-colored circle with an red outlined Garuda.
Today the new Rp.1000 banknote has been introduced to the Indonesian public. As of this moment there are two valid banknotes of Rp.1000, causing new problems. Some people in remore areas don't know the new banknotes. Against the time these notes arrive there, they don't accept them. And on islands like the Moluccan islands, refusing to pay can lead to over 2000 casualties in about one year. It's just a warning, a warning towards the Indonesian government. Of course I can't warn them, but the vision of the public is very clear. The situation has to change, not only drastically, but also as soon as possible. It's not only my call, but it's the call of the community.
Ramadhan ends at years end, promising to bring with it a return of the turbulence of the last weeks. Difficult to say what will happen next year, I still keep hoping for the best, and hope is not something bad, but hope is certainly not enough. Hope has to be expressed, plans have to be made, and those plans have to be turned into reality, before that Indonesia will stay as turbulent as it has been for some years.
Probably I will be back soon for more,
until then, Sampai Jumpa !
Jeroen van der Linde