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EINDHOVEN - Dolar, dolar, dolar !!! - I can imagine very well, the shouting of traders in Rupiah and 'Dolar Amerika Serikat', the US Greenback. Not in the JSX, where 16 people got killed last year, but just in the streets, at markets downtown Jakarta and far outside. People who can afford to buy foreign money actually will, those who cant, are already too late. The Rupiah tipped 11,500 to the US$ before BI(1 intervened, and two days after we are seeing levels around and just below the 10,000 mark. That's still dramatically below levels that were targeted by the Indonesian government for the economical year 2001, which lasts to 31 december 2001.
Are there actually scores of people who are really interested in the stock markets? Nah, I don't think so, maybe it's just me that is currently watching the melt-down of the global stock markets, but that has nothing do to with this major problem. My money that I have smuggled out of Indonesia last year has already lost twenty per cent of it's value, but I can use that again this summer, when I'm on release to Indonesia once again.
What should the average tourist think about the current student rampage at the government buildings in Jakarta? Senayan is a familiar name in my ears, but how many people don't have a clue that there are actually also governmental buildings in that area? They only see demonstrators, cars burning, ans police officers who pull students out of the streets by their hairs. That's all they see, but is it time to have a look beyond the horrific images already?
A short review for myself learns that Suharto was forced down after demonstrators occupied that same governmental palace at the very same place. It's also very imaginable that there actually scores of students who are running demo's for the next time. It were the petrol prices that were the final stab to Pak Harto(2 in may 1998. Currently the government has delayed an hike in fuel prices, thank God. At least some people have actually put things on a row, and they discovered that hiking fuel prices could be the most wrong thing to do at this very moment.
Back to reality all other problems are still there, not counting the new conflicts that have risen over the year and a half that GusDur has had power to the world most populous islamic state. Maybe he has taken money, but most probably it was not more than Suharto did in his 32-year reign, but was that because Wahid didn't have the time, or because re really doesn't want to? Because I can't imagine it would be that hard to steal money from the Indonesians at all.

I myself can't imagine everything that is playing currently in the Indonesian capital. Since I have been there for a grand total of 2 holidays, a mere six weeks totalled, I can;t imagine verything very clearly. Maybe my big problem is that we don't have any kind of protests like this in Western Europe, let alone Holland. Not that everything is fine here, but just the imagination that police are dragging protesters by their hairs is okay, but a number of 20,000 students occupying MPR compounds and shouting GusDur has to move, that's hard.
Images of riots in Jakarta on the Ducth news are not reliable for me anymore. I discovered because I was in Southern Jakarta last year July when they reported 'big demonstrations' to me by email.. I didnt notice a thing, and a newspaper like Jakarta Post is enjoying a reputation that it doesn't want to loose by not reporting certain kind of events of all, leet alone I didn't hear a word about it.
For now it's probably not the most important issue that foreigners understand all the problems that the Indonesians have to deal with in the near future, but there are still many people very interested in this all. At this moment students demand Wahid to resign, mostly because he doesn't seem to be the right President for tough reforms in Indonesia, something that is demanded by a lot of people, especially of the 'new generation', the current students wich represent the next generation of the economy.
On the other hand there are also many people, probably less than the other side, who demand that Wahid will stay in power until the end of his term in 2004. That's still a very long way to go, and at this moment it's not likely he will ever forfill the wish of those people.
Though there is not much known about the fact that there is much debate about the fact who should follow-up Wahid in the near future, I guess it's very clear that most people are already thinking about that right now. Megawati seems a stronghold of the current cabinet, and the biggest muslem organisatin, NU, already agreed Megawati to be the next president, but under wich circumstances? She will not become President for as long as they think they have a better person for that job.
But what I can also imagine is that the President is not always responsible for what his cabinat does. Of course he of she has to lead the country, but there are more people working for him/her, so why don't held them responsible for any wrongdoing of the cabinet? It's not always the President that does something wrong. But well, this is Indonesia, and probably I just don't understand it.

For as long as I will like Indonesia, and I will keep occupied by Indonesia, I will hope that the current president is the best, I think Wahid is not too bad, but he's just to ill to do much, and that eventually Indonesia will survive as an unitary state. That's another issue, that is probably misused by Wahid. He treathened that if he had to resign, or he was forces to step down, desintegration would be a widespread virus in Indonesia, breaking up the country would be the worst scenario for the archipelago. In a latest appearance of the current General of the Indonesian army already warned that the military could take over power from the indonesian police forces if heavy violence breaks out in the future. Is this a clear sign of the every decreasing power of Wahid, or is it just the opposite, that the army will back the current president? That's probably the most dangerous situation that is currently possible, and fights between the military and demonstrators in the capital are the only thing that can really destroy my holiday this coming summer.

(1 BI ~ lit 'Bank Indonesia' ~the Indonesian central bank (2 Pak Harto ~ popular name for President Suharto

Jeroen van der Linde

Posted in Politics @ 15 March 2001 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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