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ASIET Net News 20 – May 17-23, 1999

 Democratic struggle

 East Timor  June 7 election  Political/Economic crisis  Aceh/West Papua  News & issues
Democratic struggle

Students mark Suharto's ouster

Reuters - May 21, 1999

Jakarta -- Thousands of Indonesian students took to the streets in the country's second city of Surabaya on Friday to mark the anniversary of reviled President Suharto's ouster.

Witnesses said campaign activities by political parties for June's general election in the city were overwhelmed by the large number of student protesters.

The students said the reforms which they fought for had not taken place despite the passage of a year and vowed to continue with their fight.

"The bureaucrats have killed the students' demand for reforms," said Buki, a student activist.

In Jakarta, student activists said they would start their protests in the afternoon after Friday's Moslem prayers.

Analysts said while the student movement had lost some of its momentum in recent months, it was still a potent force.

Suharto stepped down a year ago amid mass student protests and the country's worst economic crisis in 30 years.
East Timor

Violent end feared for Timor vote

The Australian - May 22, 1999

Cameron Stewart and Don Greenlees -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been advised the UN-sponsored vote on autonomy for East Timor might not be possible if violence in the territory remains at current levels.

This view was put to Mr Annan this week by the UN advance reconnaissance team that returned to New York from East Timor on Tuesday, according to senior UN officials.

The team was "extremely pessimistic" about the outlook for security in the territory, the officials said. "Some of them say in private they do not believe the vote will take place," said one UN official.

The team's conclusions are said to have led Mr Annan to strengthen the wording of a report on East Timor to be delivered to the UN Security Council on Monday. He is expected to express grave concern about the security situation, and some officials believe he will call on Jakarta to do more to quell the violence.

Mr Annan has until June 13 to decide whether East Timor is stable enough to allow for a free and fair vote, slated for August 8, on the autonomy package.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday Australia did not want to see the ballot jeopardised but he would not add his voice to the UN report that violence could prevent it.

"I don't want to encourage the perpetrators to increase the level of violence," he said. "There's far too much violence and it needs to be reduced, there needs to be greater restraint."

Jakarta-based Western diplomats yesterday played down any suggestions the vote might be postponed, arguing they hoped the security situation would improve after the arrival of a 300- strong police force and other UN personnel in mid-June.

They said there were encouraging signs the Indonesian military would make greater efforts to stop the violence after weeks of pressure from a number of Western governments.

The diplomatic sources also doubted whether the UN would be prepared to call off the ballot when pro-independence forces, the target of the militia violence, were united in demanding the ballot proceed.

Mr Annan's report to the Security Council comes amid growing tension between Indonesia and the UN. Jakarta this week accused the UN mission in East Timor of bias against pro-Indonesia militias after UN officials complained about renewed attacks on civilians in the territory.

UN spokesman in East Timor, David Wimhurst, revealed on Thursday he had witnessed Indonesian soldiers training militiamen at Atsabe, about 100km south of Dili, while on a mission to investigate the killing of at least six people last Sunday in nearby Atara.

Meanwhile, the UN said yesterday the UN mission in East Timor would cost about $US53 million ($80 million) and there remained a funding shortfall of $US25.4 million. The UN is negotiating with several countries, including the US, to commit funds.

The budget papers also stated the mission would include up to 300 civilian police (at a cost of $US7.4 million), 400 UN volunteer electoral observers and 241 "substantive and administrative" personnel. There also would be about 4000 local (non-UN) staff.

It is understood 50 Australian Federal Police officers will be included in the UN contingent.

Indonesia changes East Timor vote date

Reuters - May 21, 1999

Jonathan Thatcher, Jakarta -- Indonesia on Friday abruptly changed the date for East Timor's independence vote, a move greeted with astonishment by Portugal and the United Nations, which had settled on a poll for August 8.

Jakarta said the troubled former Portuguese colony would now go to the polls a day earlier, on a Saturday.

"The direct ballot will be held on August 7," Justice Minister Muladi told reporters. "August 8 is a day off and we respect the Catholic faith."

East Timor is predominantly Catholic. Most of Indonesia is Muslim.

It was not clear why Indonesia waited until now to change the date which was agreed with Portugal in a United Nations-brokered accord last month for the ballot asking East Timorese whether they wanted wide-ranging autonomy under Indonesian rule or independence.

At the United Nations in New York, spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva indicated the world body, which is organizing the ballot, would ignore the announcement and proceed on the basis on the August 8 date.

"We were not consulted on that. We continue our work on the original date agreed upon," he said.

In Jakarta, a clearly surprised head of the Portuguese mission in Jakarta, Ana Gomes, told Reuters: "I have no knowledge that the date has been changed,"

Lisbon's foreign minister, Jaime Gama, on a visit to the Portuguese enclave of Macau, said the August 8 date was written into the accord he signed with his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas in New York earlier this month.

"The date of the vote is inscribed in an international accord. And international accords cannot be modified unilaterally," he said according to Lusa, the Portuguese news agency.

If Indonesia wanted to change the date of the vote, it should first discuss the change with the United Nations and Portugal, he said.

The ballot in East Timor has infuriated Indonesia's military, which has spearheaded Indonesia's often brutal 23-year rule in the disputed territory it invaded in 1975 and annexed a year later. The United Nations has never recognized Indonesian rule there.

Human rights workers and witnesses say the armed forces is training pro-Jakarta militias who have embarked on a reign of terror since Indonesian President B.J. Habibie made the offer of autonomy or independence.

Thursday, the United Nations, setting up monitors ahead of the poll in East Timor, warned that militias were planning fresh attacks. The United Nations has already told Indonesia it must ensure peace in the run-up to the August vote when many analysts expect the majority of East Timorese to reject autonomy in favor of independence. Indonesia has denied it is training militias.

It has promised to look into reports of recent killings, allegedly by the pro-integration militias, usually armed with primitive weapons and their ranks filled with men from remote parts of the impoverished territory.

In a Friday statement, it deplored an ambush earlier in the week by pro-independence guerrillas in which it said three soldiers were killed. "The ambush ... demonstrates the utter disregard of the anti-integration armed groups ... toward the peace process," it said.

Election campaign starts in East Timor

Agence France Presse - May 19, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta -- Indonesia's electoral campaign got off to a lacklustre start in the troubled territory of East Timor Wednesday, largely ignored by a population gripped by fractional violence ahead of a UN-monitored ballot on self-determination in August.

"Only one party is campaigning here [the capital city of Dili] today according to the schedule, the Crescent and Star Party," said an official of the East Timor province election commission who identified himself as Nana.

Two other parties, The Islamic Community Party (PUI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Party-Front Marhaen (PNI-FM) opened their campaigns in the Lautem district and the Liquisa district, he said.

"It's calm because it's only a dialogue campaign, not mass rallies," said First Sergeant Susanto of the East Timor provincial police spokesman's office.

In Dili, the campaign, involving debates between party cadres and the public, were held at the Rising Sun Building, a public function hall. A second debate was scheduled later at a soldier's meeting hall.

Flags of the 15 political parties contesting the polls there were flying in several places across the city. But most were those of the ruling Golkar party and of the Indonesia Democracy Party- Struggle of leading opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The predominantly-Catholic population of 800,000 appeared indifferent however, leaving the campaign activities to Indonesian soldiers and police.

"People here aren't at all interested in the Indonesian elections, they are looking forward to the August 8 polls," said Rui Fiana of the local rights group the Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

He was refering to a scheduled UN-monitored poll in East Timor on whether its people want autonomy under Indonesia or independence.

"People are also still worried by the violence of the recent days," Fiana added.

He said the family of a man, identified as Manuel da Silva, had earlier reported that da Silva was taken away to Liquisa by members of the Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Steel) pro- Indonesia militia on Monday night and had not yet returned.

Da Silva, who works for the local industry office, is a known pro-independentist.

Fiana said reports from Hatolia, in East Timor's Ermera district, spoke of continuous operations by members of two armed pro- Indonesia militias -- the Naga Merah (Red Dragon) and the Tim Pancasila -- backed by soldiers, to flush out pro-Indonesian supporters in the area.

Local residents said the operations had started on May 9, and that only women and children remained while the youths and adult men had already fled the area. Similar operations were also taking place in Aileu district, Fiana said.

Timor militia attack 'stalled by UN presence'

Sydney Morning Herald - May 21, 1999

Mark Dodd, Atsabe -- United Nations investigators believe that their surprise arrival in this highland town on Wednesday may have stalled plans for a second attack by pro-Indonesian militias.

A UN convoy escorted by heavily armed Indonesian police commandos, intelligence operatives and detectives arrived at 2pm, attempting to investigate an alleged massacre of suspected pro- independence supporters by pro-Indonesian militia.

According to the UN about 60 militiamen had attacked the small coffee-growing hamlet of Atara last Sunday in a pre-dawn raid, killing at least six villagers who were preparing to go to Mass. There are fears the final death toll could be as high as 32.

On its arrival in Atsabe, the convoy was told by local military authorities it was not possible to visit Atara due to security reasons. Atara lies about 12 kilometres from Atsabe, or 45 minutes by four-wheel-drive in rugged mountain country.

As the UN spokesman for East Timor, Mr David Wimhurst, argued in vain with his Indonesian escort for permission to proceed, he received alarming news.

A staunchly pro-Indonesian militia gang known as Tim-Pancasila, allegedly responsible for the Atara killings, had warned the local army chief in Atsabe that "foreigners" including UN personnel were unwelcome.

"The militia strongly resented the presence of the United Nations and warned our presence was unwelcome," Mr Wimhurst told reporters.

Taking into account the long journey back over rough mountain roads and police concerns about security after nightfall, the convoy, which included a small UN team and several reporters, had no option but to head back to Dili, but not before witnessing first-hand an illegal militia training session.

In a dilapidated barracks owned by the Indonesian "Kommando Militer", 33 militiamen armed with wooden clubs received orders and training, shouting aloud their answers to questions by an instructor dressed in military fatigues.

Atsabe lies in spectacular mountain terrain high in the coffee- growing Ermera highlands some 80 kilometres south-west of Dili.

A district priest, Father Domingo Soares, claimed that militia gangs backed by local army units and a military intelligence group known by its acronym SGI were continuing operations across a swathe of East Timor.

He said their aim was to ensure a "Yes" vote for autonomy within Indonesia -- a clear breach of the UN East Timor accords signed on May 5 by Indonesia and former colonial power Portugal.

Mr Wimhurst said the UN was not discouraged by what had happened at Atsabe. "Whatever intimidation comes our way -- whatever threats are made against us, obviously we will consider them very carefully.

"Our security staff will evaluate and assess them and we will take the necessary precautions but we will not be prevented from doing the work to ensure that there is a vote on the 8th of August."

Caught red-handed: Jakarta's assassins

Sydney Morning Herald - May 21, 1999

Mark Dodd, East Timor -- United Nations investigators have seen Indonesian Army personnel training loyalist civilian militia in this East Timor town, throwing doubt on Jakarta's promise to ensure the neutrality of its military before the territory's independence vote.

During the training session, held in an army barracks, 33 militiamen armed with wooden clubs were instructed by a man dressed in Indonesian Army-style camouflage uniform. The session was photographed by a Herald photographer, Jason South.

The UN spokesman in East Timor, Mr David Wimhurst, said the training of the militia -- accused of killing at least six independence supporters at nearby Atara village on Sunday -- violated UN accords signed on May 5 by Indonesia and Portugal, the former colonial ruler.

"Under the accords all militia activity has to cease," he said yesterday. "There has to be a secure and safe environment for everybody to campaign. The active training of militia is in breach of the accord."

Mr Wimhurst believes his UN team stumbled on preparations at Atsabe, about 80 kilometres from Dili, for another attack by pro-Indonesia paramilitaries against suspected independence supporters.

The UN team was unable to reach Atara village because of militia roadblocks and a warning by police escorts that it would be unsafe to travel late in the day because of threats by militias against "foreigners", including the United Nations.

On Monday, the UN had demanded that Jakarta honour its pledge to stem the violence in the territory.

"Words by the Indonesian Government are not enough," it said. "Determined action must be taken by the appropriate Indonesian security authorities to curtail the activities of the armed militias, whose members roam the streets of Dili and other towns ... at will, shooting citizens and burning homes."

Last Sunday, about 60 members of the Tim-Pancasila militia attacked Atara village and shot dead at least six people who were preparing to attend Mass. Local human rights groups say the actual death toll could be as high as 32.

Asked what action the UN would take against continuing militia activities, Mr Wimhurst said: "Obviously everything we've seen here we report directly to New York. We will take it up here with the authorities and New York will also take it up in an appropriate way with Jakarta."

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, meanwhile, called on the Indonesian Ambassador, Mr Wiryono, to pass on Australia's "strong feeling" that the military must show restraint in East Timor.

A spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry in Jakarta last night attacked the UN report, saying it "takes sides with one group". He called on UN officials in East Timor to "make more of a contribution" in helping to end clashes between rival groups.

The spokesman said that four days ago Indonesian soldiers were killed in an ambush "but the UN did not make a report on that".

East Timorese will vote in a UN-organised ballot on August 8 to choose between autonomy under continuing Indonesian rule, or independence.
June 7 election

Ministry channels credits through Golkar

Kompas - May 21, 1999

Jakarta -- The ministry of State Enterprise Empowerment acknowledged that it has channelled soft loans to small and medium scale businesses through the ruling Golkar party. The move is seen by many people as an attempt by Golkar to buy votes ahead of the election, said Sofyan A. Djalil, communication deputy for the ministry.

He said it is not a money-politics move since Golkar has only become a mediator to the needy. The credits were meant for Islamic schools (pesantren) and Adi Putra Thaher, head of small and medium scale enterprise department of Golkar happened to be the mediator.

Djalil said his ministry had only given approval based on proposal feasibility. "If the it is a good proposal, meaning they can pay it back and have promising business prospect, we will agree with it. So, for us it is not a matter of who propose or people behind proposal. It is just that Golkar gave the information. Any one can submit proposals for that kind of credits," he said.

Djalis could recall precisely what kinds of state-owned company soft loans that had involved Golkar. "In addition, not all credits were proposed to the ministry. Some proposal were handed directly to the state-owned companies."

Under a government regulation in 1994, state companies are required to set aside three percent of its profits for soft loans for the small and medium scale businesses. Of Rp 1.2 trillion of revolving credit since 1994, state companies had distributed Rp 200 million. The program was halted after Soeharto quitted presidency, resulting in a race between ministries to tap into the fund.

Since March 1997, State Enterprise Empowerment Minister Tanri Abeng has made use of the fund. The Far Eastern Economic Review reported recently that Golkar had used funds from state companies to win votes throughout Indonesia.

Tanri, for example, has ordered the social and manpower insurance company (Jamsostek) to extend Rp 100 mln to co-operatives in Tanah Datar, West Sumatra, when Golkar chairman Akbar Tandjung ran a campaign in the district.

The Review said Golkar leaders in the district acknowledged that move openly and regarded that as Golkar's "sincerity" to deal with Golkar's effort to help solve people problems.

"It was Golkar who made the first attempt to ask for that fund. The first would get it first," said Noer Pamuncak, Golkar leader for West Sumatra province.

Tensions escalate in 2nd day of campaign

Jakarta Post - May 21, 1999

Jakarta -- Tensions marked the second day of campaigning in several volatile areas across the country, including Pidie in Aceh, where hundreds of Geulumpang Tiga villagers attacked and burned a United Development Party (PPP) van to drive home the message that they do not want a general election but a referendum.

"What do we need elections for? The poll is only for Javanese," said Suleman, while hundreds of other residents shouted for a chance to determine their own fate through a referendum. Demands for a referendum or outright independence have intensified in the troubled province, while resistance against the planned June 7 elections has grown since the military shooting of North Aceh residents recently claimed at least 41 lives.

Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Wiranto responded to the unrest by sending out even more troops. Wiranto's instructions included ensuring a high voter turnout.

The PPP van was moving through the village announcing with loudspeakers that the party would campaign on Friday. The four occupants were left unharmed when the van was set ablaze at about 11am.

Hours before, in Kendal, Central Java, a group of unidentified people pelted the house of a local National Awakening Party (PKB) chief, Slamet Imron. No casualties reported.

In another Central Java town of Pekalongan on Wednesday, four Golkar supporters were seriously injured and three motorbikes damaged when crowds attacked their convoys. Hours later, four houses belonging to PKB officials were damaged in another attack, causing the authorities to beef up security in the area.

In the nearby town of Batang, local Golkar official Sunarto said on Thursday that about 2,500 Golkar flags in 12 different districts in the area were missing, some of them set on fire.

In Jember, East Java, supporters of PKB intercepted a convoy of PPP supporters in Kalisat district, but the two groups avoided a clash.

Meanwhile in Lubukpakam, 27 kilometers east of the North Sumatra capital of Medan, the campaign rally of Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid of PKB drew about 6,000 people.

Abdurrahman, who is among the country's top presidential candidates, told party supporters the new alliance between PKB and two other leading opposition parties -- the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) -- was the only way to block the remnants of the status-quo forces.

The alliance was evident on Thursday as hundreds of members of PDI Perjuangan's security force were seen at the three-hour rally.


Abdurrahman was driven out of a university hall in Banda Aceh on Wednesday by students, who said he was against a referendum.

In Jakarta later on Thursday, Abdurrahman said he understood why the students chased him away. "They have seen their relatives shot," he said, referring to victims of military violence.

His most important impression from his visit, he said, was that it was clear that campaigns and the June 7 polls cannot be conducted in Aceh, where military operations to crush separatists lasted from 1989 to 1998.

Officials have been threatened and have not been able to sit on election committees, while people in civilian clothing walk freely with AK-47 and M-16 firearms, he said. Threats came from paid retired officers in the "Taliban Movement" as well as from the Free Aceh Movement, he said.

The PKB report regarding Aceh would be submitted to Gen. Wiranto, he said, "who I'm sure has only received pleasant reports" of security in the province. He spoke of reports of continuing terror.

The student body of the Syah Kuala University had conveyed apologies, he said, and had explained that students were "sick of parties only interested in votes without heeding demands of a referendum".

Abdurrahman also expressed his skepticism toward an intended alliance between PAN and PPP, saying he was not sure if PPP people could be trusted to uphold fair politics.

Separately, Wiranto called on political parties, the government, the military and the National Police to do what they could to make the June 7 general election a success.

"The elections are a gateway for the nation lift itself out of the prolonged crisis in a democratic and constitutional manner," he wrote in a speech delivered by National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) Governor Lt. Gen. Agum Gumelar on the occasion of the military think-tank's 34th anniversary. Meanwhile, in Yogyakarta, PKB chairman Matori Abdul Djalil spoke before about 15,000 supporters calling on Golkar to withdraw from the elections.

"Why did Golkar name B.J. Habibie as its presidential candidate, regardless of the fact that he was the student of Soeharto, and should be reformed?" Matori said.

In Purwokerto, 100 students rallied peacefully to support the alliance between the three top opposition parties to fight against the status-quo forces. "The coalition between pro-reform forces is needed to end the rule of the oppressor," student leader Harnoning said.

In the East Timor capital of Dili, hundreds of PDI Perjuangan supporters attended the party's campaign in the Matahari Terbit building on Thursday.

World Bank delays aid to stop vote buying

New York Times - May 20, 1999

David E. Sanger, Washington -- Top Clinton administration officials said Wednesday that they had pressed the World Bank to make sure that more than a billion dollars in aid to Indonesia was held up for several weeks so that the country's government could not use it to buy votes in the first free election there in more than 40 years.

The agency Wednesday announced that Indonesia had "voluntarily" agreed to a freeze in use of the money until the June 7 election is held, even though several hundred million dollars will be deposited in the next few days in an account under Indonesia's control.

The agreement reflects the depths of Washington's fears that the ruling Golkar party, dominated by President Suharto until his resignation a year ago, would use the money to remain in power.

Suharto's handpicked successor, President B.J. Habibie, hopes to retain the presidency after the parliamentary election, the first step in a lengthy process to select a president.

Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin on Wednesday told a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee that "Europe, the United States and others" felt that the aid to Indonesia "ought to be held up until after the election."

After Rubin's testimony, Treasury officials corrected his remarks, saying that some portion of the loans -- by some accounts more than $400 million -- would be made available almost immediately. Most of that money is to help Indonesia manage its water resources, and World Bank officials said several safeguards would enable them to track the money and make sure it was going to approved projects.

But the remaining $1.1 billion, about half of which was originally to have been sent to Jakarta's accounts Tuesday, has been held up. Much of that money is for what the World Bank calls "general budget support" to stimulate the economy, meaning that it would go directly to the government's main coffers.

As one US official said Wednesday, "The worry is that it would end up in little envelopes" in a country where corruption is endemic, and at a time when Habibie's party is suffering at the polls, partly because of the continuing disclosures of corruption and cronyism during the Suharto era.

Even without the World Bank money, much of which is to help provide a safety net for those who lost their jobs or fell below the poverty level during the Asian financial crisis, Jakarta has plenty of ways to lubricate the election process with cash. It could, for example, simply print more rupiahs, the nation's much-devalued currency, but Treasury officials say there is no evidence it is doing so.

The delay also gives the World Bank and the Clinton administration some breathing room to assess the outcome of the election. There are fears in Washington that if the Habibie government tries to rig the results, violence and political chaos could follow.

The fate of the Indonesia loans is considered particularly sensitive because the World Bank has acknowledged that much of its aid to the country has been misused or illegally diverted over the years. Critics of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have pointed to those diversions to press their argument that the United States should not be using taxpayer dollars, even indirectly, for such programs.

Golkar still has chance of winning: Pundits

Straits Times - May 20, 1999

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta -- As Indonesia's election campaign kicked off, analysts here predict that the ruling Golkar still has a strong chance of winning, despite poll predictions placing Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-Struggle as the most popular party.

While Golkar "might be finished in Java", it was still popular in Sulawesi, Irian Jaya, South Sumatra, Maluku, and the eastern islands, said political commentator Andi Mallareng.

The outer islands vote will significantly influence the elections because of their high representation among Parliament's 462 elected seats.

Mr Mallareng said Golkar still had a chance of winning or coming a close second after PDI-Struggle, despite the announcement of an alliance between the three major opposition parties and Time magazine's revelation that the Suharto family is worth US$15 billion.

Polls in this week's Kompas newspaper placed President B. J. Habibie as the least popular presidential candidate behind Ms Megawati, National Mandate Party's (PAN) Dr Amien Rais and Yogyakarta's Sultan Hamengkubuwono X in three of five major cities.

But the President outstripped his opponents in his hometown of Ujungpandang, South Sulawesi. Mr Mallareng said Golkar's choice of Dr Habibie as its sole candidate was not political suicide, as some thought, but a smart choice:

"Who are the other candidates? Megawati, Amien Rais, Abdurrahman Wahid and General Wiranto are all Javanese. So, for the outer islands, Habibie is breaking the myth that the president should be Javanese."

Golkar's choice last Friday was criticised because the President was seen close to Mr Suharto's New Order regime and had been perceived as foot-dragging with a probe into the Suharto family's alleged wealth.

Political analyst Valine Singka Subekti said the party could still command a majority in the assembly which elects the president in November -- if seats reserved for the armed forces (ABRI) were combined with those of smaller parties rumoured to support Golkar, and the 200 other appointed representatives.

Although ABRI has declared its neutrality, Ms Valine said that it would side with Golkar after the polls because of its previous history with the party.

Mr Mallareng agreed that the alliance between Ms Megawati, Dr Amien and Muslim scholar Abdurrahman Wahid would make it difficult for Golkar in Java.

But citing a Asia Foundation survey which showed that 63 per cent of respondents believed that the government cared about them, he said this was a more accurate guage of the party's support.

The Kompas polls, on the other hand, gave a "skewed" view as it only surveyed urban centres and was a telephone poll -- which ignored lower-class voters.

Ms Valine said Golkar would probably keep support in the outer islands because of its "strong networking" and use of "money politics".

But political analyst Herbert Feith countered this view, saying that parties such as PAN with its pro-autonomy policy also had widespread support.

Habibie faces defeat as parties unite

Sydney Morning Herald - May 19, 1999

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta -- President B.J. Habibie's campaign to be elected at June polls suffered a serious blow yesterday when three main Indonesian opposition parties formed a united front against him.

Opposition leaders agreed to put aside key policy differences, including on East Timor, to form a bloc for the country's first free elections in 44 years.

Diplomats and observers say that Dr Habibie, already under attack for his administration's links to the discredited former president Soeharto, will struggle to win enough votes to to stay in power after the June 7 poll.

They said Dr Habibie's only hope was to spend millions of dollars buying votes and the support of smaller parties.

A deal uniting the three parties was sealed early yesterday morning despite the initial reluctance of Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, the leader of the Indonesian Democratic-Struggle party.

Under the deal, the opposition party that wins the most votes at the elections will get the backing of the other two parties to nominate the next president when the parliament meets in November.

But the deal falls short of forming a coalition as each will field its own candidates and campaign on separate policies.

Party sources said Ms Megawati was particularly concerned about joining forces with the reformist National Mandate party of the Muslim leader, Dr Amien Rais, whose policies include giving wide autonomy to Indonesia's far flung provinces through a federation-type system.

But Ms Megawati was convinced by another Muslim leader, Mr Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, in a late-night meeting that she should put aside policy differences to form a block to sabotage Dr Habibie's Golkar party.

Mr Wahid chairs the country's largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, and leads the National Awakening Party, the third force in the united front.

Under Mr Soeharto's military-backed rule the Golkar party, which is now deeply divided, crushed rival politicians to rig six elections over 32 years.

A recent poll in the respected Kompas newspaper showed the three parties in the new alliance having 41.5 per cent of voter support while Golkar's support was only 14.3 per cent.

List and sketches of parties

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta -- A total of 48 political parties are contesting Indonesia's June 7 elections, the first since the fall of president Suharto whose Golkar party swept all polls under his 32-year rule.

Only a handful -- including two of the three parties allowed by the Suharto government -- are expected to make a significant showing. Campaigning starts Wednesday.

Golkar Party (Partai Golongan Karya/Golkar)

Officially founded in 1964, a year before the abortive coup blamed on the Communist Party of Indonesia, Golkar became the main political vehicle of Suharto and with the backing of the military and the bureaucracy swept every election since 1971.

Its current sole presidential candidate is incumbent President B.J. Habibie, the 62-year-old German-educated protege of Suharto.

It has four vice-presidential candidates -- former state secretary Akbar Tanjung, Military Chief and Defence Minister General Wiranto, the governor of Yogyakarta, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, and top economics minister Ginanjar Kartasasmita.

Listed as No: 33 on the ballot sheet with the symbol of the banyan tree.

Golkar officials maintain they can win some 30 percent of the vote despite the stain of the Suharto legacy, and are banking heavily on stability and continuity in a time of turbulence.

The party already faces accusations of "mislabelling" social safety net funds as Golkar largesse and of money-politics.

The Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjangan/PDI-Perjuangan)

The original PDI was founded in 1973 as a merger of five parties including the old Indonesian National Party of the country's first president Sukarno and two Christian parties, when the Suharto government whittled the number of political parties to three.

A government-engineered PDI leadership coup in 1996 forced then party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno's daughter, out of the leadersip but strongly boosted her popularity. She then formed the PDI-Struggle.

Megawati, 59, has been one of the most popular political leaders at the grassroots level, but her record of persistence and perseverance in the face of pressure has been often tainted by her slow reactions to developing events.

PDI has basically run on a populist platform and vowed to maintain the unity of the nation under a republic.

Megawati, her party's sole presidential candidate, has objected to Habibie's decision to let go of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor if its people reject autonomy.

The United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan/PPP)

PPP was created by a fusion of four Islamic parties in 1973 but the Suharto government, which forced the merger, forced PPP in the 1980s to shed its Islamic principle in favor of the more secular state ideology.

Under the Habibie government, PPP reverted to its Islamic base and changed its logo from the yellow star to the Ka'aba, Islam's holiest shrine in Mecca.

The party is chaired by Hamzah Haz, Habibie's minister of investment until he resigned earlier this month to take part in the electoral campaign.

He has pledged to fight for democracy, including the gradual elimination of the military's non-elected representation in the legislature, at least in the lower house, and to foster an Islamic-oriented life in the country.

The party always came second, trailing far behind Golkar, in the six elections held under Suharto.

Its popularity has risen due to its insistence on scrapping military seats in parliament and naming Suharto as one of the targets of efforts to clean the government of corruption, collusion and nepotism during the November convention of the People's Consultative Assembly.

The National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional/PAN)

A post-Suharto era party founded in August last year by leading reformists.

PAN is chaired by Amien Rais, a vocal US-educated academic and former chairman of the Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Moslem organisation.

The party has gained popularity under its chairman who had been in the forefront of reformists during the last months of Suharto's rule.

It is open to non-Moslems and has adherents from the country's various minorities including the ethnic Chinese community, the traditional target of unrest in the Suharto years.

Its platform is based on reform, reduction of the military role in politics and a dialogue to uphold people's sovereignty, justice and progress.

The party caused a stir last year when its leaders said it was prepared to consider a federal republic to keep Indonesia united.

The National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Nasional/PKB)

The party has the official blessing of the country's largest Islamic group, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) which boasts some 30 million supporters but which had withdrawn from politics in the mid-1970s.

It was founded by the NU central governing board in July 1998. NU's popular chairman, the moderate and pluralistic Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, has been nominated as the party's presidential candidate.

PKB is chaired by Matori Abdul Jalil, a staunch NU member and former PPP deputy chairman. Although linked to NU, the party is open to non-Moslems.

Crescent and Star Party (Partai Bulan Bintang/PBB)

The party was founded with the support of 43 Islamic organisations to accommodate aspirations for an Islamic party.

The party, chaired by Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a legal expert with the University of Indonesia, draws its main support from the ranks of supporters and members of the Masyumi, an Islamic party disolved in 1960 by Indonesia's founding president Sukarno.

PBB fights for a modern Islam and believes that Islam would provide a solution to all problems and that Moslems, who account for about 90 percent of Indonesia's some 202 million people, should become the "master" of the house.

The party, which has nominated Mahendra, 43, as its presidential candidate, has called on other Islamic political parties to band together and form a united faction in the legislature formed following the June 7 elections.

Justice Party (Partai Keadilan/PK)

Partai Keadilan was set up by a group of Moslem intellectuals in August last year with the aim of building a structured Moslem society through education and dissemination of the faith.

The party, which is not adverse to the imposition of Islamic laws, is chaired by a young American-trained food scientist, Nur Mahmudi Isma'il, 37.

PK has nominated an outsider as its presidential candidate, Didin Hafidhuddin, a lecturer at Ibnu Khaldun University and the Bogor Institute of Agriculture. It is mainly popular among young urban Moslems.

The People's Democratic Party (Partai Rakyat Demokratik/PRD)

PRD was established as a loose organisation gathering pro- democracy student activists in 1996 while Suharto was in power.

The staunchly anti-communist Suharto government banned PRD the following year, accusing it of leftist leanings and its leaders of inciting riots against the government.

It is the only party with a chairman, Budiman Sujatmiko, and secretary general, Petrus Haryanto, who are in jail on charges of undermining the state.

Its aims include establishing a democratic society with people's sovereignty in all fields -- politics, economy and culture. It has a wide following among student activists as well as urban intellectuals who admire the tenacity of its leaders.

A list of the 48 parties

[The following is a list of the 48 parties contesting Indonesia's June 7 elections, which will launch their campaigns on Wednesday. All but the three allowed under Suharto -- Golkar, PDI and PPP -- are either new or revived from old or previously-outlawed or merged parties. Eighteen of them either have their roots in Islamic groups or espouse Islam as their ideology.]

1. Partai Indonesia Baru (New Indonesia Party)

Platform: Religious Nationalism (Moslem but open to others).
Chairman: H.M. Syaiful Anwar
Secretary General: H. Zakirudin Djamin

2. Partai Kristen Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Christian Party)

Platform: Open to all, retain military's political role
Chairwoman: CML Sitompul Tambunan
Secretary General: Raden Didiek Sugito

3. Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI-Supeni) (Indonesian National Party)

Platform: Nationalist. Unitary state, strong legal system.
Chairwoman: Supeni
Secretary General: I.M. Sunarkha

4. Partai Aliansi Democrat Indonesia (Indonesian Democratic Alliance Party)

Platform: Strong links with NGO's, creation of political awareness.
Chairman: Mohammad Bambang Sulistomo
Secretary General: Harry Gnada Asi

5. Partai Kebangkitan Muslim Indonesia (Indonesian Moslem Awakening Party)

Platform: Moslem, more Islamic teaching, Unitary state. Chairman: Syamsahril
Secretary General: Djamhari Maskat

6. Partai Umat Islam (Islamic Community Party)

Platform: Islam, for more Islamic approach, but not Islamic state.
Chairman: Deliar Noer
Secretary General: Fahmi Rahman
Presidential Candidate: Deliar Noer

7. Partai Kebangkitan Ummat (Community Awakening Party)

Platform: Moslem -- for more Islamic laws but not Islamic state.
Chairman: Yusuf Hasyim
Secretary General: Asnawi Latief

8. Partai Masyumi Baru (New Masyumi Party)

Platform: Islam. Modernist. People-oriented economics.
Chairman: Ridwan Saidi
Secretary General: Fairuz Basyar

9. Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (United Develpment Party)

Platform: Islam. Pro-reform of armed forces, parliament and the presidency.
Chairman: Hamzah Haz
Secretary General: Alimarwan Hanan

10. Partai Syarikat Islam Indonesia (Syarikat Islam Indonesia Party)

Platform: Harmony between Moslems and others, prevent authoritarian rule, build Islamic unity.
Chairman: Taufik R. Cokroaminoto
Secretary General: Amaruddin Jayasubita
Presidential Candidate: B.J. Habibie

11. Partai Demokrasi Indonesia PDI-Perjuangan (The Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle)

Platform: Retention of unitary state.
Chairwoman: Megawati Sukarnoputri
Secretary General: Alexander Litaay
Presidential Candidate: Megawati Sukarnoputri

12. Partai Abul Yatama (Fathers of Orphans Party)

Platform: Restoration of orphans' rights.
Chairman: Rusli Bintang
Secretary General: Agus Suarman Sudarsa

13. Partai Kebangsaan Merdeka (Independent Nation Party)

Platform: Equal rights for all religions and groups
Chairman: Zaini Ahmad Nuh
Secretary General: Cornelius D. Ronowijoyo

14. Partai Democrasi Kasih Bangsa (Democracy and Love for Nation Party)

Platform: Golkar spinoff, non-sectarian, human rights
Chairman: Manase Malo
Secretary General: Seto Harianto

15. Partai Amanat Nasional (National Mandate Party)

Platform: Federalism, justice, against discrimination, strongly pro-reform.
Chairman: Amien Rais
Secretary General: Faisal Basri
Presidential Candidate: Amien Rais

16. Partai Rakyat Democratik (People's Democratic Party)

Platform: Empowerment of the people.
Chairman: Budiman Sujatmiko (Jailed)
Secretary General: Petrus Haryanto (Jailed)

17. Partai Syarikat Islam Indonesia 1905 (Syarikat Islam Indonesia 1905)

Platform: Extend Islam to every facet of life.
Chairman: Ohan Sujana
Secretary General: Paka Chairi

18. Partai Katolik Demokrat (Democratic Catholic Party)

Platform: Restore Catholic rights, open to all.
Chairman: Marcus Mali
Secretary General: Nirwan Sembiring

19. Partai Pilihan Rakyat (People's Choice Party)

Platform: Sovereignty of the people.
Chairman: R.O. Tambunan
Secretary General: Fachruddin Hasan

20. Partai Rakyat Indonesia (Indonesian People's Party)

Platform: Indonesia's first green party. Social justice, equity
Chairman: Agus Miftach
Secretary GenEral: Michele Purwanto

21. Partai Politik Islam Indonesia Masyumi (Masyumi Indonesian Islamic Political Party)

Platform: Moslem. Pre-eminence of Islam, Shariah law
Chairman: Abdullah Hehamuhua
Secretary General: Sayuti Rahawarin

22. Partai Bulan Bintang (Crescent and Star Party)

Platform: Roots in Moslem Masyumi party. Strengthen legal system, smaller provinces.
Chairman: Yusril Ihza mahendra
Secretary General: M.S. Ka'ban

23. Partai Solidaritas Pekerja (Worker's Solidarity Party)

Platform: Workers' welfare
Chairman: Dedi Hamid
Secretary General: Parjaman
Presidential Candidate: General Wiranto

24. Partai Keadilan (Justice Party)

Platform: Moslem. Clean government, strong legal system.
Chairman: Nur Mahmudi Isma'il
Secretary General: Suswono
Presidential Candidate: Didin Hafidhuddin

25. Partai Nahdlatul Ummat NU (Nahdlatul Ummat Party)

Platform: From Nahdlatul Ulama scholars. Sunni teachings.
Chairman: Syukron Makmun
Secretary General: Achmad Syatari

26. Partai Nasional Indonesia -- Front Marhaenis (Indonesian National Party -- Marhaenis Front)

Platform: Golkar spinoff, people's self-sufficiency
Chairman: Probosutejo (Suharto's half-brother)
Secretary General: Bambang Suroso

27. Partai Pendukung Kemerdekaan Indonesia (Indonesian Independence Supporting Party)

Platform: Military origins, for retaining military's political role.
Chairman: R. Suprapto
Secretary General: Rusli Dahlan

28. Partai Republik (Republican Party)

Platform: Reform through strong government, social services.
Chairman: Syarifuddin Harahap
Secretary General: Yani Wahid

29. Partai Islam Demokrat (Islamic Democratic Party)

Platform: Islamic. Changes in marriage and religious laws.
Chairman: Andi Rasyid Jalil
Secretary General: Imam Dipowinoto

30. Partai National Indonesia-Massa Marhaen (Indonesian National Party-Marhaen Mass)

Platform: People's economy, reform, uplift lower classes.
Chairman: Bachtar Oscha Chalik
Secretary General: Franciscus Xaverius Sumitro

31. Partai Musyawarah Rakyat Banyak (Popular Consultation Party)

Platform: PDI spinoff, strong cooperatives (Pro-Megawati)
Chairman: Hadijoyo Nitimiharjo
Secretary General: Zulfikar Kamaruddin

32. Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (Indonesian Democratic Party)

Platform: Rump of Megawati's party. Unitary state.
Chairman: Budi Harjono
Secretary General: Buttu Hutapea

33. Partai Golkar (Golkar Party)

Platform: Improvement of standard of living.
Chairman: Akbar Tanjung
Secretary General: Tuswandi
Presidential Candidate: B.J Habibie

34. Partai Persatuan (Unity Party)

Platform: A PPP breakway - unitary state, social prosperity
Chairman: Jailani Naro
Secretary General: Mardiansyah

35. Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (National Awakening Party)

Platform: Basis in Moslem Nahdlatul Ulama, but open to all.
Chairman: Matori Abdul Jalil
Secretary General: Abdul Muhaimin Iskandar
Presidential Candidate: Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid

36. Partai Uni Demokrasi Indonesia (Indonesian United Democratic Party)

Platform: Reform -- direct elections, federalism, the return of the army to barracks.
Chairman: Sri Bintang Pamungkas (released political prisoner)
Secretary General: Husni Akbar Lubis

37. Partai Buruh Nasional (National Labor Party)

Platform: Close union links, worker's welfare.
Chairman: Tohap Simanungkalit
Secretary General: Robikin Emhas

38. Partai Musywarah Kekeluargaan Gotong Royong Indonesia (Familial Mutual Help Party)

Platform: A Golkar spinoff championing marginal groups.
Chairman: Mien Sugandhi
Secretary General: Kristiya Kartika

39. Partai Daulat Rakyat (People's Sovereignty Party)

Platform: Promoting a people's economy. (Rumored links to Cooperatives Minister Adi Sasono)
Chairman: Abdul Latief Burhan
Secretary General: Mohammad Jumhur Hidayat

40. Partai Cinta Damai (Peace-Loving Party)

Platform: Moslem, devoted to humanitarian needs.
Chairman: Iskandar Zulkarnain
Secretary General: Syahril Malik

41. Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan (Justice and Unity Party)

Platform: A new Golkar spinoff, reformist.
Chairman: (Retired General) Edi Sudrajat
Secretary General: Hayono Isman

42. Partai Solidaritas Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (All-Indonesia Workers Solidarity Party)

Platform: Workers' welfare, wants a military draft.
Chairman: Rasyidi
Secretary General: Rahmat Ismail

43. Partai Nasional Bangsa Indonesia (National Party of Indonesians)

Platform: Economic self reliance, political education.
Chairman: Endro
Secretary General: Erstien Sri Rahayningsih

44. Partai Bhineka Tunggal Ika Indonesia (Indonesian Unity in Diversity Party)

Platform: Equal rights for all regardless of religion and race.
Chairman: Nurdin Purnomo
Secretary General: Harider Singh

45. Partai Solidaritas Uni Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian United National Solidarity Party)

Platform: Socio-economic Justice, stress on cooperatives. Moslem roots, a splinter of Nahdlatul Ulama
Chairman: Abu Hasan
Secretary General: Ali Fahmi

46. Partai Nasional Demokrat (Democratic Nationalist Party)

Platform: Nationalist, supports unitary state.
Chairman: Edwin Henawan Sukowati
Secretary General: Eddy Syafuan

47. Partai Umat Muslimin Indonesia (Indonesian Moslems Party)

Platform: Strongly Islamic but open to other religions.
Chairman: Anwar Yunus
Secretary General: Abdillah Muhammad

48. Partai Pekerja Indonesia (Indonesian Workers Party)

Platform: Empowerment of workers.
Chairman: Saleh Said Harahap
Secretary General: Salam Sumangat

Cold cash the real power broker

South China Morning Post - May 15, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta -- The nomination of President Bacharuddin Habibie as the sole presidential candidate of the Golkar party is a sign not of the President's personal popularity but of the continuing dominance of money politics, party insiders say.

"Senior board members [of Golkar] were given 200 million rupiah each, and members of all the party departments received 100 million rupiah each," one party member said.

This money was reportedly handed out just over a week ago at a meeting in which Golkar's long-held decision not to choose a presidential candidate before the forthcoming parliamentary election was overturned.

Less-conventional members of Golkar, such as one of the vice- chairmen, Marzuki Darusman, said that choosing Mr Habibie before the June poll was a mistake as it would be better for the party to keep its options open.

"The public seems to link Golkar's chances to a candidate who is not Habibie, so that if we don't nominate Habibie, we'll do better," he said before the nomination.

These arguments were overturned, party sources said, due to the wide distribution of funds to party delegates. Sixty-nine out of 104 delegates thus voted last week to choose a sole candidate.

At the same time, key party leaders have been collecting funds from state-owned enterprises. The instruction was to collect five per cent of each firm's worth for the Golkar coffers, but many firms have managed to contribute just one billion rupiah each.

Further funds are reported to have been collected from major ethnic Chinese conglomerates, in just the same ways as of old.

While these moves were under way, three of Golkar's presidential candidates quit the race: party chairman Akbar Tandjung, Co- ordinating Minister for the Economy; Finance and Industry Ginandjar Kartasasmita; and armed forces chief of staff General Wiranto.

This left Habibie and the reigning royal of central Java, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, in the running.

Rent a mob

Sydney Morning Herald - May 15, 1999

Indonesia faces its first post-Soeharto elections with fears of mob violence not just during the polls but afterwards, as Louise Williams reports.

Mas Damon has a mob for hire -- 30,000 or so tough, young men and women, all with basic military and crowd control training, ready to do anything for anybody, so long as the price is right.

"This is simply about money politics; everyone wants to get some of the money," he says, white "hustler" shoes tapping, his fingers constantly adjusting the hair under his black Bugs Bunny cap.

"Personally, I hate politics; this is just a business; my people are just a product to be marketed," he laments, of the treacherous game he has been playing in Indonesia for most of his life. On the table are sample contracts for his mob hire business. Under former President Soeharto he worked up crowds for the ruling Golkar party, the only party ever allowed to win.

Now, he says, he will stack rallies for any political party that can pay in the campaign which begins next week, for Indonesia's first democratic elections in more than four decades.

For 30,000 rupiah ($6) a head, Damon's mob will scream and wave flags and banners all day. He wants open trucks, not buses, because they are easier to get out of if they are set on fire. The problem, this year, though, he says, is the insurance. Already one political party has baulked at the extra 20,000 rupiah per head he is demanding as danger money.

But, he insists: "The risk now is very, very high. Who will pay if my people get killed or injured in clashes? I had to sell a house once to pay for all the medical treatment for the injured in one election campaign, and the risk of violence is now much higher."

Already, Indonesia is reeling from a terrible, bloody year of mob violence following the collapse of the Soeharto regime last May. The Government of President B.J. Habibie is weak and illegitimate because of its appointment by the former strongman and its failure to usher in meaningful reforms. The military and police are overstretched, demoralised and underpaid.

Into this power vacuum has come the mob: without strong central authority, people are simply taking the law into their own hands.

On the streets of Jakarta, school gangs of 14-year-olds saunter through the traffic whirling chains and hurling rocks. At least 34 students have died in clashes between rival schools just this year. In poor slums, hit hard by the economic crisis, mobs have beaten to death suspected criminals, just because one of the neighbours has shouted out "thief", or have set fire to the bus stations in a dispute over a bus fare. In Ambon and Kalimantan hundreds have died in communal clashes which have seen neighbours draw harvesting knives and machetes on old friends. And in East Timor and Aceh, a new bloody chapter of the independence struggle is unfolding. School brawls and the "mobbing" to death of suspected criminals have nothing to do with the political competition among the elite for control of the next Indonesian Government. But the mobs have everything to do with the instability of the environment in which the polls will be held.

As Paulus Wirutomo, a sociologist, says: "Under the [authoritarian] Soeharto regime conflict and criticism were always suppressed. We just kept quiet because we could not express our conflicts. So, Indonesian people are not well educated in how to manage conflicts, and we don't know how to express our conflicts without making the situation worse."

Says another commentator: "Mobs are about power; by joining a mob people are empowered. The ordinary Indonesian people have been powerless for so long that this may not be directly related to politics, but it will affect the campaign."

Next week, 48 political parties will begin campaigning in a crucial election which must establish legitimacy at the centre, and stop Indonesia's slide.

Traditionally, political campaigns in Indonesia are about crowds: huge, rowdy, noisy crowds which take over the stadiums and the streets. Even under Soeharto's stage-managed system the parties clashed, even when everyone knew who would win. In pre- campaigning violence already 10 people have died and scores have been injured in fights between the supporters of rival parties.

Of the line-up, four main parties are likely to attract -- or pay for -- very big crowds. On one side is the remnants of Soeharto's old Golkar political machine -- the only party with an established, nationwide network -- which is widely believed to still be in control of a significant "war chest" with which to play serious money politics. On the other side is a very loose opposition, with no real co-ordination. The front runner is Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno, herself a victim of Soeharto's political repression and leader of the Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (Indonesian Democratic Struggle).

Also very popular are two prominent Islamic figures, Abdurrahman Wahid with his New Awakening Party and Amien Rais with his National Mandate Party. Around them lie myriad new tiny parties representing interests from fundamental Islamic values to the ethnic-Chinese minority.

And outside the new democratic process lies the unknown "black forces", the provocateurs and spoilers who are believed to have fomented the bloodiest clashes this year. Wahid has publicly accused Soeharto and his old cronies, so bitter over their lost power, of playing bloody, dangerous political games with people's lives. A peaceful transition to democracy is not in the interests of those who have already lost.

Says the sociologist Wirutomo: "I am worried about the elections, we are coming into a situation in which there is a great potential for conflict. I don't know whether we are yet strong enough as a society to undergo this election safely, or whether we will face a new round of anarchy and chaos -- it is very unpredictable."

Jakarta is a scarred city. Exactly one year ago, more than 1,000 people died in two days of rioting as mobs burned, looted and damaged vast areas of the commercial districts. Many of the buildings have not been repaired, and their burnt-out shells and broken windows remain, hanging over the traffic, a constant reminder of the devastating violence which swept the capital.

But is Indonesia really a much more violent place than it was in the past, or do new media freedoms just mean that people know more about what is happening? "It is both. There is more violence and we are more aware of it because of the free press," says a political commentator, Wimar Witoelar.

Political violence, he believes, is being organised by those bent on wrecking the democratic transition, but school brawls and mobbing deaths are part of a wider breakdown in social controls and norms.

The tensions which run just below the surface in Indonesian society are immense. Indonesia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. Outside the Javanese, Muslim majority lie hundreds of minority ethnic groups, many of them Christians, Buddhists or Hindus. Under Soeharto, millions of Muslim migrants from over- crowded Java were sent to the outer islands where they began encroaching on indigenous communities. Millions of economic migrants followed and serious inter-ethnic resentments were stoked. Even within Java itself lie tensions between those who benefited under Soeharto, and those who suffered in opposition. In East Timor and Aceh hundreds have died this year in worsening violence between pro-independence groups and supporters of Indonesian rule. In Aceh, in particular, local people have lynched scores of military informers and police and soldiers, so angered is the community over years of military brutality.

One Asian diplomat says: "This is not yet anarchy, but we are sliding towards the rule of the mob. In the long term the drift will be very damaging because no-one in the political elite -- the Government or the opposition or the military -- has any new ideas for how to deal with social unrest. The military just keeps shooting people in the back." A senior Golkar executive privately admitted to fearing for his supporters during the campaign because of the widespread anti-Golkar sentiment due to the repression of the Soeharto years.

An official of the National Election Commission says: "If one person dies it is already too many, but in this environment I would say that if less than 1,000 people die it is already a success."

But there is a positive view. It is also possible people will want to protect their first opportunity to vote in a democratic election in probably a lifetime. The last democratic polls were in 1955. And it is also evident, argues Wirutomo, that a process of "social learning" is already under way. A society that experiences so much violence automatically learns that the impact is very painful, both personally and economically, and so it becomes more difficult to provoke riots, even using professional "rent a mobs". "Are we going to keep on rioting, or are we going to learn how to resolve conflict in another way?" he asks.

Commentator Witoelar believes the establishment of a new legitimate Government will go a long way to defusing tensions, but like many other commentators he fears that the really big conflicts may come after the results are in.

As Wirutomo argues: "If the results are not satisfactory even if the polls are free and fair, which means the people are not satisfied, then they will want to protest. Indonesians know how to be forced to lose by an authoritarian regime, but they don't yet know how to graciously accept defeat in a system which gave them an opportunity to win." Says an adviser to the Indonesian Government: "The elections and political reform are just the beginning. We need an independent judiciary, an independent police force and affordable and accessible justice. Otherwise we'll just keep beating our criminals to death.

"There are so many uncertainties after the elections, the trouble could come then."

Indonesians go to the polls Election day: June 7. Campaign period: May 19 to June 5. Political parties: 48. Voters: 121 million, out of about 200 million Indonesians. Parliamentary seats: 500. There are 462 members elected through a national proportional system and 38 seats are reserved for the armed forces, whose members cannot vote. Main parties: Partai Demokrasi Indonesia -- Perjuangan (Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party), led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia's founding President Sukarno.

Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (National Awakening Party), led by Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid.

Partai Amanat Nasional (National Mandate Party), led by political scientist and Muslim figure Amien Rais.

Golkar, the remnants of former President Soeharto's political machine, which will put up incumbent President B.J. Habibie as its presidential candidate.
Political/economic crisis

Old wounds are hard to heal

South China Morning Post - May 17, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta -- Residents of the Maluku province capital, Ambon, were burying their dead from the latest outbreak of mob anger and military killing yesterday as violent unrest continued further east in Tual, capital of the Kai Islands.

Hundreds of troops and police patrolled the streets of Ambon and fired occasional warning shots yesterday.

Reports from the remote Kai Islands suggest that the communal violence there, which broke out after the first explosion of violence in Ambon in mid-January, has continued to exact a heavy toll on lives and property.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 people are said to have fled Tual in recent weeks. Although the figures are hard to confirm, both diplomatic and human rights sources in Jakarta are prepared to believe them.

"Yes, it's around that figure," said Marzuki Darusman, head of the National Commission on Human Rights.

The latest violence in Ambon shows that the wounds from two months of killing by Christians and Muslims, which left 200 people dead, are proving hard to heal. A military-brokered peace agreement signed last week was itself preceded by a bomb explosion in the centre of the town.

Army chief of staff General Subagyo Hadisiswoyo was in Ambon on Saturday to inaugurate a new command, only to see his ceremony interrupted by the violence as mobs burned eight houses and damaged cars and buses. When troops opened fire to stop the violence, at least eight people were killed.

The military's ceremony to mark its expanded presence on Ambon coincided with commemorations for the Pattimura Revolt of 1817, a day which has local resonance both for its Indonesian nationalist and Moluccan separatists.

The Torch of Pattimura was, according to tradition, being carried into Ambon on Saturday. Community leaders thought it a good idea to have villagers from the mainly Muslim village of Batumerah -- a focal point of this year's violence -- pass the torch to predominantly Christian villagers of Mahardika. Instead, the Muslims refused to hand the torch to the Christians and tempers flared.

Significantly, the Ambonese crowd took out their anger on military vehicles, throwing stones and breaking windows, which provoked the soldiers into shooting into the crowd, leaving at least eight dead, all of them Christians.

"What happened in Ambon is only because of a misunderstanding about the Torch of Pattimura, the hero of the Indonesian Moluccas," said Reverend Joseph Pattiasina, head of the National Protestant Church of Indonesia and himself an Ambonese.

"But I think they are cooling down there. They signed a peace agreement [between Muslim and Christian communities] on May 12.

"However, in Tual, things are not cooling down yet," he said, while noting it was very difficult to get information from the area.
Aceh/West Papua

"Most Aceh victims shot in the back"

Indonesian Observer - May 14, 1999

Jakarta -- Most of the people gunned down by the military in the staunchly Islamic province of Aceh earlier this month were shot at from behind, suggesting they were running away or lying down in a bid to avoid being struck, says a leading human rights group.

"The victims" wounds indicate that security authorities shot them in the back," Munir, coordinator of the Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said on Wednesday.

He said several of the victims had been shot repeatedly during the May 3 massacre at Krueng Geukeuh village, in which at least 42 people were killed.

The saddest thing is that most of the victims were lying down to avoid the bullets, he said. "This confirms the testimonies of survivors. They said that apart from shooting people in the back, the troops also shot those who had layed down."

Munir said a fact-finding team from Kontras also concluded that most victims were shot from behind. The team, based in Lhokseumawe, northern Aceh, reached its conclusion after looking at post mortem documents, as well as the victims" bodies.

"We also questioned some survivors. Some of them had heavy injuries, and on average they had been shot more than once. Our team even met one survivor who was shot three times, with the bullets entering his waist and exiting through the front of his body," he said.

"There was also a man who was shot five times in his right thigh. The bullets exited near the front of his stomach."

In view of the evidence and facts, Munir rejected the military"s flimsy claim that the savage slaughter was conducted in self defense.

Instead, it was a deliberate act of terror against an unarmed crowd, he said, adding the shootings still continued even when there was no resistance.

The cruel troops even chased people into their houses and killed them indoors, he asserted. "Some of the dead victims were found in their houses."

Munir said the "back shooters" were from the Army"s Air Defense Artillery (Arhanud) troops. He said the massacre occurred after the troops came from their barracks, located behind an area where angry locals were involved in what had been a relatively peaceful negotiation with other military personnel.

The Arhanud troops, who approached the Acehnese from behind and then started shooting, may have conducted the massacre to avenge the disappearance of one of their associates, he added.

Munir said the systematic violence was a "ritual", aimed at showing off the military"s superior power and dominance over the restive province.

"The shooting pattern at the time was not an effort to disperse a crowd or a riot; but [gunfire] was directly pointed at the crowd with the purpose of not paralyzing, but killing." The military is still defending its claim that shots were fired in self defense, because shots had earlier come from the crowd.

"The fact is that the shots came from the Arhanud troops at the back of the crowd, while the Acehnese were involved in a negotiation with troops from the 113 Battalion. They [the military] then made this situation their justification for slaughtering the crowd," Munir said.

He condemned the military for making up weak excuses for the savage massacre. "The [military"s] statement includes an accusation that all the victims were members of the Free Aceh movement, who were armed when the clash occurred." Several of the victims included women and children.

Munir said he had extreme doubts about the military"s claim that rebels tossed five grenades in an Army barrack located near the site of the incident.

"It"s very doubtful that it was done by local people." Speaking on behalf of Kontras, Munir issued several recommendations. Mainly, he said the state should remove additional troops from Aceh.

The fact that the state first put the extra troops there, indicates the violence was conducted by the state apparatus, as the result of a political decision to instigate violence against the Acehnese, he said.

Kontras also said the government must be held accountable for the massacre when the People Consultative Assembly convenes in November.
News & issues

Clashes as Suharto remains defiant

Agence France Presse - May 21, 1999

Jakarta -- Troops fired warning shots as thousands of students shouting "Hang Suharto" tried to storm parliament on the first anniversary of the downfall of the former strongman here Friday.

The clashes erupted after the 77-year-old Suharto insisted on television he would never flee abroad and blasted reports that his family had amassed a 15 billion dollars fortune as "cruel" lies.

"I am still in the country, and why should I run overseas, because I feel I have done no wrong," a smiling Suharto said from his plush Jakarta residence.

"I am still in Indonesia and will remain in Indonesia, I will not run. I was born in Indonesia and will die in Indonesia. I will not run and be buried abroad," said Suharto who resigned amid mounting protests on May 21 1998. He added that his six children will also remain in the country.

Tensions spilled over as thousands of students attempted to protest in front of parliament to mark the day. They demanded that Suharto be brought to justice.

Warning shots and teargas were fired as students pelted and beat with sticks the soldiers blocking their advance. At one stage the cordon had to retreat some 50 metres (yards).

Another 1,000 students stood in front of the state University of Indonesia in Jakarta -- where reform protests that helped topple Suharto began last year -- to demand a more thorough probe of Suharto's personal wealth.

President B.J. Habibie, Suharto's protege, marked the anniversary of his one year in power by cutting a ceremonial rice cone at the state guest house.

He said he had been "entrusted by the One God and the people" to lead the Indonesian nation in its struggle and prevent it from disintegrating.

Suharto's television appearance was the second he has made since his ouster, and the first at which a foreign telvision station, CNN, was present.

He devoted much of it to answering charges carried by Time magazine this week that he and his family had a fortune of 15 billion dollars accumulated during his 32 years in power. It said nine billion dollars of was under his name in an Austrian bank.

"It's a lie. If they don't have proof and facts to back it up, it is slander and defamation. Honestly, that's more cruel than murder," he said.

Suharto said his lawyers had sent a letter demanding that Time produce proof and added that if they failed, "me and my team of legal advisors will settle it, whether in a case in civil or criminal court."

"I don't have any money abroad, I don't have savings in any bank. If they find it, it must have been planted by someone using my name, and I will press charges against this person.

"If the money is there Indonesia stands to gain, because [it is] nine billion [dollars]. We'll withdraw it and give it to the people."

He said he was "feeling very happy" and that he had been able to play golf, going fishing in the Bay of Jakarta and be with his grandchildren.

"I feel just as usual, because I am convinced that there is no truth in what is being said of me," he added.

"There are so many people who insult me. Go ahead, insult. Whoever insults me, they will take on my sins. I believe that God will not let people slander and say things that are not true," he said.

Opponents have also accused Suharto and his loyalists of encouraging troubles that have broken out across Indonesia in the past year.

Time said it had documented more than 73 billion dollars "in revenues and assets" that passed through family hands but had dissipated through "mismanagement and Indonesia's financial crisis."

Echoing the demands of reformist students who spearheaded the massive street protests that helped push Suharto out of power, the latest demonstrations heard shouts of "arrest and bring Suharto to trial," and "Hang Suharto."

The anniversary came as the country embarked on the official campaign for the June 7 general election which will lead to the formation of a new parliament, and in November the choice of a new president.

Depositions against Tommy retracted

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta -- Two witnesses at the corruption trial of a son of former president Suharto on Monday retracted statements that a company he controlled had caused millions of dollars of losses to the state.

The two witnesses were one active and one retired official from the National Logistic Agency (Bulog), which prosecutors say suffered some 11.2 million dollars in losses in a land-swap scam.

The court is trying Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, Suharto's youngest son, over his alleged involvement in a land-swap deal involving his company PT Goro Batara Sakti and Bulog.

"At the time I made my deposition [to the police], I had not yet studied the landswap deal," Yacob Isak, who heads Bulog's equipment bureau, told the South Jakarta court hearing the case.

Isak said that after he had studied the case, he came to the conclusion that "Bulog has not been directly disadvantaged."

He said the process of the taking over of Bulog assets under the deal had yet to be completed.

The other witness, Suhadi retracted his earlier statement to the police that Bulog had suffered losses, partly incurred by rent for warehouses for the first year, pending the completion of permanent warehouses to be build by Goro.

Under the deal, Goro should have paid for the rent, but Bulog had paid for the first year of rent, Suhadi said.

"Goro has paid back the 8.7 billion rupiah for the rent of the warehouses," Suhadi said, backing up his aboutface that Bulog had not suffered losses in the deal.

However, he admitted to the court that the payment for the 1996 rent of the warehouses had been made only after the case came to court.

Several witnesses in past sessions have also recanted on earlier testimony that said Bulog lost heavily on the deal.

Hutomo, with the former head of the Bulog, Beddu Amang, and businessman Ricardo Gelael, have been accused of violating a 1971 corruption law by "trying to enrich themselves while directly or indirectly causing losses to the state finances or economy."

The defendants have been accused of causing the state to lose 95.4 billion rupiah (11.2 million dollars) in the land exchange deal between 1995 and 1998.

The prosecution has argued that Bulog was never fully reimbursed for the land and that Goro borrowed money to buy the land, using Bulog money as collateral, and never repaid it.

When they money was not paid by Goro, the bank seized Bulog's deposit of 20 billion rupiah, it said.

Hutomo is the first member of the Suharto family to be brought to trial on corruption charges since the former president stood down last May.

Indonesian authorities are investigating allegations that Suharto and his family amassed a fortune during the former president's 32 years of rule.

The judge said that they were adjourning the hearing until after the elections, saying that the police had told them they would not have enough men to assure security during the trial. The trial will resume on June 9.

Interview with Suharto's Lawyers, Ghalib

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

"Not one cent abroad"

Holed up in the family compound in Jakarta, Suharto declined repeated requests for an interview about his holdings. But Hong Kong bureau chief John Colmey met separately with two of the former President's lawyers, Otto Cornelis Kaligis, head of Suharto's eight-member legal team, and Juan Felix Tampubolon. Excerpts from the interviews:

Time: There is evidence that $9 billion was transferred from Switzerland to Austria under President Suharto's name.

Kaligis: When I asked President Suharto about this, he told me: "I don't have one cent abroad." And he gave absolute power of attorney to the Attorney General to investigate. If he finds any evidence, Mr. Suharto is ready to be brought to court. Therefore, I do not believe it is true.

Time: Has Suharto accumulated billions of dollars in hidden wealth?

Tampubolon: There is no legally admissible evidence to say he has accumulated billions. The AG's office has identified his bank accounts: the amount is $2.4 million. Seven foundations chaired by him received funds amounting to $547 million. These foundations, as well as their assets, have been transferred to the government.

Time: It is seems unlikely those foundations could collect only $547 million over 19 years, given their revenues. In 1990, for example, they had a controlling share in Bank Duta, with assets of $1 billion.

Kaligis: I don't have every detail about them, but the money of the foundations was used to build mosques and churches, to fund student scholarships, and for social activities.

Time: The AG's office says more than half the money was lent to Suharto's children and friends, who rarely repaid any of it.

Kaligis: In my experience accompanying the President to the examination by the AG, all the evidence was delivered to him. So far his investigations of Mr. Suharto have never touched the children. Time: Should Suharto be held responsible for any crimes of the children?

Kaligis: The law says no.

Time: Do you think Suharto was aware of the greed of his children? Kaligis: He concentrated on the government. The children as citizens have the right to carry on business, and it has nothing to do with policies of President Suharto.

Time: Will Suharto ever stand trial?

Tampubolon: In my opinion he will never have to. For every crime he committed, if any, before 1981, the right to prosecute has expired under the statutory period limitation. For any crime committed within 1981-1998, if any, the right to prosecute has been abolished by the decrees of the People's Consultative Assembly, which accepted Mr. Suharto's reports on how he carried out the assembly's mandate.

Time: Isn't it ironic that many Suharto critics were once his biggest supporters?

Tampubolon: Of course it is ironic that many who used to support Mr. Suharto now consider him as the only culprit of every error committed in the past.

Doesn't that mean that they're criticizing themselves?

Time: Does Suharto continue to influence the military?

Kaligis: When I asked if he is still involved with political life, he said there are "no activities at all." What he is doing now is praying and facing his old age. He knows he is going to die, and as a Muslim he prepares himself for that.

"It's very hard"

Having declined repeated requests over several months for an interview, Indonesian Attorney General Andi Muhammad Ghalib finally met with correspondent David Liebhold and reporter Jason Tedjasukmana. Ghalib, who conceded that President Habibie had instructed him to grant the interview, initially referred questions to members of his staff. When pressed, however, he provided a few answers himself.

A longer version of this interview will be posted shortly Time: In investigating former President Suharto's social foundations, have you found that some of their funds went to the wrong places?

Ghalib: Yes. Some of the money was not used for social prosperity or social purposes.

Time: And that's not enough to charge him?

Ghalib: There's a problem, because to make the charge of corruption, we have to prove that money came from the state and is not private.

Time: On the basis of your investigation so far, do you suspect that Suharto has broken the law in any respect?

Ghalib: Yes, we suspect.

Time: Why haven't you asked foreign governments to freeze any assets that he may have overseas?

Ghalib: It's very hard, you know, without any proof, without any evidence. I sent a letter to the foreign affairs minister [Ali Alatas] to find out whether there is [money] abroad, in a bank, maybe some land, houses and so on. The minister has found that there is nothing in the name of Suharto.

Time: People say, "Ghalib is a military man, a three-star general." Ghalib: Suharto is five-star. [Laughs]

Time: As a soldier and a three-star general, would it be difficult for you to press charges against your former commander?

Ghalib: No, no, no. Because I'm now not under Suharto. I'm under Habibie. It depends on the President. If the President instructs me, whatever I do, no problem.

Time: Why aren't you investigating allegations of corruption in relation to the National Logistics Agency or the state oil company Pertamina?

Ghalib: Maybe the reason is, if we want to investigate all of them, because he was the President, so, of course, many of them are connected, including us.

Time: Your audit of Suharto's seven main social foundations disclosed that they have accumulated 5.4 trillion rupiah ($690 million). Isn't the real figure much higher than that?

Ghalib: Your estimate is the same as mine. There may be more, but how could we find it? We are not experts. Maybe you have experts? Can you give me experts?

Time: What was Suharto's presidential salary?

Ghalib: I don't know exactly, because I never asked.

Time: You've been investigating Suharto since December on suspicion of corruption, but you don't know what his monthly salary was? Is this a serious investigation?

Ghalib: Very serious, you know, very serious, but this is just preliminary.

Suharto Inc: it pays to think big

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

By Jeffrey Winters -- President Suharto opened his 1989 autobiography with memories of his simple childhood bathing in muddy canals in Java. "My roots are in the village," he wrote. From the start of his dictatorship in 1966, Suharto carefully cultivated an image not just of humble origins but of lifelong simplicity. He claimed to be a common farm boy with common values, who rose without ambition to a position of dominance over one of the largest countries in the world, and who ruled in the best interests of the nation.

Eager supporters at home and abroad swallowed that line whole. One American ambassador to Indonesia in the 1960s described Suharto as a man of "sincerity and humble courage." What better man to lead Indonesia out of the Third World? President Richard Nixon told Suharto upon landing in Jakarta in July 1969, "The People of the United States wish to share with you in this adventure in progress." In 1986, at the height of Suharto's military-backed rule, President Ronald Reagan spoke in Indonesia of the "winds of freedom" blowing through the region. Throughout his more than three decades of rapacious dictatorship, Suharto's public image served the important political function of deflecting criticism and seeding disbelief that he could be capable of all that his critics would later claim.

In the early years of Suharto's New Order government, his greedy wife Madam Tien took most of the heat. Then it was Ibnu Sutowo, head of the state oil company Pertamina, who nearly bankrupted Indonesia in the mid-1970s by borrowing billions of dollars that were used in part by Suharto for political and personal ends. When Suharto's children came of age in the 1980s and his grandchildren in the 1990s, they became the focus of resentment. All along, the dictator himself managed to maintain his Teflon coating. Even as evidence now mounts of Suharto's staggering personal wealth, he can still step up to a microphone and declare flatly, as he did last September, that he doesn't have a single cent in holdings abroad.

When leaders commit crimes, one lesson from history is that it helps to transgress on such a massive scale that few will believe the deed possible. The theft of mere hundreds of millions of dollars is entirely believable -- that's what landed the powerful Salinas family of Mexico in deep trouble. A much better strategy is to steal billions, preferably tens of billions, just to be on the safe side. The sheer size and incomprehensibility of the corruption buys a degree of security from prosecution. For a leader like Suharto, the formula works even better if disbelief of scale blends seamlessly with a personal image of impeccable simplicity.

But the reason it has been so difficult even to mount an official investigation of Suharto goes much deeper than psychology. From the start, Suharto's New Order benefited from an international banking system that favors kleptocrats by offering no strong rules or norms that can act as a counterpoint to bank secrecy. The banks themselves, along with the money handlers who labor to make ill-gotten wealth so hard to track and recover, profit handsomely for their services and from the deposits they take in. When the fortunes of dictators get stored abroad in secret accounts for decades with the complicity of foreign banks and friendly governments, international actors grow deeply reluctant to have that history of collusion or indifference exposed. At a minimum, it makes finger wagging at declining dictators and their corrupt governments much harder because the clear line separating "them" from "us" breaks down.

The task of charging dictators with crimes, the crucial first step in going after their assets, is much easier if the ruler gets pushed not only out of office but also out of the country. Unlike the Shah of Iran, Duvalier in Haiti, Somoza of Nicaragua, Mobutu of Congo and Marcos in the Philippines, Suharto of Indonesia remains in a country where his influence is still formidable. This leads to truly absurd political maneuvering by officials to protect their fallen leader. Attorney General Andi Muhammad Ghalib, for instance, faces an almost daily barrage of foreign and domestic press reports of Suharto family wealth, all of which he has refused to investigate aggressively. Instead he talks about how unreliable press reports can be and suggests repeatedly that it is the accusers' responsibility to come forward with the whole corruption case solved and ready for court action. This would be high comedy if the political and economic stakes for Indonesians were not so high.

If the Marcos case is any guide, Indonesians should brace themselves for some big disappointments. The Filipinos were quick off the blocks: they exiled Marcos immediately and froze assets around the globe. Yet after nearly 14 years and many millions in legal and forensic accounting fees, they have recovered only a small portion of Marcos' fortune. The Indonesians started slowly, have neither charged the Suhartos with anything nor attempted to locate or freeze foreign assets. Instead, the Habibie government stalled long enough to allow the Suhartos to hide and protect the assets abroad -- so even if action is finally taken, Indonesians will get back almost nothing.

Suharto Inc. All in the family

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

[A Time investigation into the wealth of Indonesia's Suharto and his children uncovers a $15 billion fortune in cash, property, art, jewelry and jets.]

John Colmey and David Liebhold, Jakarta -- When the end came for Suharto, Indonesia's long- serving President appeared oddly passive. As students and angry mobs took to the streets and soldiers responded with gunfire and tear gas, the five-star general hovered in the background, making few attempts to set things right. When he finally quit a year ago this week, he stood meekly to the side as his successor, B.J. Habibie, took the oath of office. Suharto has hardly been heard from since. But Indonesia's onetime autocrat has been far busier than most of his countrymen realize. Just after his fall from power there began feverish movements of his personal fortune. In July 1998, reports emerged that a staggering sum of money linked to Indonesia had been shifted from a bank in Switzerland to another in Austria, now considered a safer haven for hush-hush deposits. The transfer caught the attention of the United States Treasury, which tracks such movements, and set in motion diplomatic inquiries in Vienna. Now, as part of a four-month investigation that covered 11 countries, TIME has learned that $9 billion of Suharto money was transferred from Switzerland to a nominee bank account in Austria. Not bad for a man whose Money Trail presidential salary was $1,764 a month when he left office. {Suharto, for his part, denies that he has any bank deposits abroad and insists that his wealth amounts to a mere 19 hectares of Jeffrey land in Indonesia, plus $2.4 in savings)

Those billions are just part of the Suharto wealth. Though the Asian financial crisis has trimmed Suharto's the family empire considerably, lawyers of the former President and his children retain a staggering fortune. It was built over three decades from a skein of companies, Author monopolies and control over vast sectors of economic activity -- from oil exports to humble pilgrims making the yearly visit to Mecca. (They flew on planes leased from companies controlled by Suharto's children.) greed According to data from the National Land Agency and Properti Indonesia magazine, the Suharto family on its own or through corporate entities controls some 3.6 million hectares of real estate in Indonesia, an area larger than Belgium. That includes 100,000 sq m of prime office space in Jakarta and nearly 40% of the entire province of East Timor.

Within Indonesia, the six Suharto offspring have significant equity in at least 564 companies, and their overseas interests include hundreds of other firms, scattered from the US to Uzbekistan, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Vanuatu. The Suhartos also possess plenty of the trappings of wealth. In addition to a $4 million hunting ranch in New Zealand and a half-share in a $4 million yacht moored outside Darwin, Australia, youngest son Hutomo Mandala Putra (nicknamed Tommy) owns a 75% stake in an 18-hole golf course with 22 luxury apartments in Ascot, England. Bambang Trihatmodjo, Suharto's second son, has an $8 million penthouse in Singapore and a $12 million mansion in an exclusive neighborhood of Los Angeles, two doors down from rock star Rod Stewart and just up the street from his brother Sigit Harjoyudanto's $9 million home. Eldest daughter Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana may have sold her Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet, but the family's fleet of planes included, at least until recently, a DC-10, a blue-and-red Boeing 737, a Canadian Challenger 601 and a BAC-111. The latter once belonged to the Royal Squadron of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, according to Dudi Sudibyo, managing editor of Indonesia's Angkasa aerospace magazine.

Neither Suharto nor his six children responded to requests for interviews, though lawyers for the former President and son Bambang asserted that their clients did nothing illegal. Indeed, no one has proven that the Suhartos broke any laws. Their companies mostly consist of operating entities that turn profits, create jobs and import Western technology. Yet allegations that the former First Family benefited from favoritism, commonly heard in Indonesia since the early 1980s, began to grow louder when the former President resigned. His successor quickly announced an official investigation into such charges. Tommy, the youngest son whose corporate empire at one point included the Lamborghini sports car company, is already in legal jeopardy, facing charges of defrauding a state agency of $11 million in a real estate deal. The South Jakarta district court recently rejected a plea from Tommy's lawyers that he be tried in a civil court and is proceeding with a criminal trial.

In an interview at the State Palace, Habibie told TIME he will not cover up for his former mentor, but he has so far declined to freeze the family's holdings or to follow up on the investigation in any meaningful way. Private asset-tracing firms are excited at the prospect of a Suharto treasure hunt, if only Jakarta would hire them. "In terms of dollars, we think this could be bigger than anything we have ever seen before," says Stephen Vickers, Asia chief for Kroll Associates, which helped investigate the wealth of the Philippines' former President Ferdinand Marcos. "My bags are packed."

The search won't start in earnest unless the man in charge of the government's investigation, Attorney General Andi Muhammad Ghalib, gives the go-ahead. Ghalib, a three-star general in the Indonesian military, told TIME that he has found no evidence that his former supreme commander wrongly acquired state assets. But Ghalib has been moving slowly, and some of his own staff members are not convinced the investigation is serious. In the opinion of an official in the Attorney General's office, "Ghalib is on a mission to protect Suharto."

Nonetheless, the code of secrecy shielding the family is breaking down. After hundreds of interviews with former and current Suharto friends and government officials, business associates, lawyers, accountants, bankers and relatives, as well as examinations of dozens of documents (including bank records of outstanding loans), TIME correspondents found indications that at least $73 billion passed through the family's hands between 1966 and last year. Much of that was from the mining, timber, commodities and petroleum industries. Bad investments and Indonesia's financial crisis have reduced the sum substantially. But evidence indicates that Suharto and his six children still have a conservatively estimated $15 billion in cash, shares, corporate assets, real estate, jewelry and fine art -- including works by Indonesian masters Affandi and Basoeki Abdullah in the collection of Siti Hediati Hariyadi, the middle daughter known as "Titiek."

Suharto laid the foundation for the family fortune by establishing the intricate nationwide system of patronage that kept him in power for 32 years. His children, in turn, parlayed their ties to the President into the role of middlemen for government purchases and sales of oil products, plastics, arms, airplane parts and petrochemicals. They held monopolies on the distribution and import of major commodities. They obtained low- interest loans by colluding with or even strong-arming bankers, who were often afraid to ask for repayment. Subarjo Joyosumarto, managing director of Bank Indonesia, the central bank, confirms that during the time of Suharto, "there was an environment that made it difficult for the state banks to refuse them."

While the Indonesian economy was growing fast, it was possible to make light of the Suhartos' rent-seeking ways. Now, with half the population below the poverty line as a result of the financial crash, there is little doubt that the family grew wealthy at the expense of the nation. A former business associate of the children estimates that they skipped tax payments of between $2.5 billion and $10 billion on commissions alone. "It is very likely that none of the Suharto companies has ever paid more than 10% of its real tax obligations," says Teten Masduki, an executive member of Indonesian Corruption Watch, an anti-graft non- governmental organization. "Can you imagine how much revenue has been forgone?"

Many Indonesians also blame Suharto for creating a climate of corruption that pervaded the entire economy. The World Bank estimates that as much as 30% of Indonesia's development budget over two decades disappeared through civil-service-wide corruption that filtered down from the top. "If you don't pay bribes, people think you're odd," says Edwin Soeryadjaya, a director of an Indonesian-US telecommunications joint venture. "It's very sad. I cannot say that I'm proud to be an Indonesian. This is one of the most corrupt countries in the world."

Great expectations

How did Suharto Inc. attain its wealth, its power and its hold over the imaginations of millions of Indonesians? When Suharto became acting President of Indonesia in 1967, his unique blend of forcefulness and Javanese political subtlety was already manifest. The ousting of "President for Life" Sukarno, the nationalist founder of the country, took two years and, through an accompanying anti-communist purge, claimed as many as 500,000 lives. But Suharto, an obscure general from a hardscrabble village in central Java, led an outwardly modest life. He and his late wife Siti Hartinah ("Madam Tien") initially lived in a simple bungalow in the Menteng district of Jakarta and drove a 1964 Ford Galaxy. That was in marked contrast to Sukarno, the self-styled "God-King," with his grand presidential palace and his glamorous third wife Dewi, a former Japanese hostess at Tokyo's Copacabana nightclub. Behind the facade, however, Suharto showed an early interest in making money. In the 1950s, he was allegedly involved in sugar smuggling and other extra-military activities in Central Java that may have cost him command of the Army's Diponegoro Division during a 1959 anti-corruption drive. In his autobiography, Suharto asserts that he bartered sugar for rice to ease a local food shortage and that he did not benefit personally. In any case, the military transferred Suharto to a less influential position at the loot army staff college in Bandung, West Java. In 1966, Suharto Inc. began to take shape. Before being battle plan officially named President, Suharto issued Decree No. 8 to seize two Sukarno-controlled conglomerates with combined assets of $2 billion. They became PT Berdikari, a company that Suharto placed under a former general who now heads a Suharto's powerful Muslim organization founded by President Habibie. The firm was to become one of the main levers of the Suharto empire. The President's fortunes began to soar along with those of a few close associates, most prominently says that Liem Sioe Liong and Kian Seng, better known as Mohammad "Bob" Hasan. In late 1969, Suharto gave a partial monopoly -- it later became total -- over the import, milling and distribution of wheat and flour to PT Bogasari Flour Mills, controlled by Liem's Salim Group. Over the years Liem -- known as "Uncle Liem" to the Suharto brood -- and Hasan became Suharto's most trusted non- family associates and eventually amassed vast commercial empires.

The bedrock of the Suharto fortune was the presidential yayasan, or foundation. Dozens were set up, ostensibly as charities, and they have in fact funded a large number of hospitals, schools and mosques. But the foundations were also giant slush funds for the investment projects of the Suhartos and their cronies, as well as for the ex-President's political machine, Golkar. According to George Aditjondro, a sociology lecturer at Australia's University of Newcastle, they ultimately numbered 97 and were controlled by Suharto, his wife (who died in 1996), her relatives in the countryside, his cousin and half-brother, the six children, their spouses and parents, trusted military men and associates such as Habibie, Hasan and Liem. "The foundations bought stocks, built companies, lent money to businessmen," says Adnan Buyung Nasution, a lawyer who last year tried unsuccessfully to set up an independent commission on the Suharto wealth.

The foundations accepted "donations," though they were often less than voluntary. Beginning in 1978, all state-owned banks were required to give 2.5% of their profits to both the Dharmais and Supersemar foundations, according to former Attorney General Soedjono Atmonegoro. Suharto's Decree No. 92, in 1996, required that each taxpayer and company making more than $40,000 a year donate 2% of income to the Dana Sejahtera Mandiri foundation, set up to support poverty-alleviation programs (the order was rescinded last July). To this day, civil servants and members of the military donate a portion of their monthly salaries to the Amal Bakti Muslim Pancasila foundation, which was used by Suharto to win Muslim support.

While "donations" provided most of the foundations' revenue, there were other sources as well. In 1978, Suharto foundations took control of 60% of Bank Duta, a leading private bank, according to a former Bank Duta official. That share was gradually increased to 87%. The foundations invested heavily in private companies established by Suharto family members and cronies. After that, a helpful ministry or state-owned firm would award a contract or a monopoly to those companies.

Since Suharto's downfall, the foundations have been a major target of Indonesian investigators. Soon after Suharto's resignation, then-Attorney General Soedjono examined the books of the four largest yayasan. What he found was unsettling. "These foundations were set up to deliver social services," he says, "but Suharto had distributed the money to his children and friends." Soedjono discovered that one of the largest foundations, Supersemar, had dispersed 84% of its funds on unauthorized pursuits, including loans to companies owned by Suharto's children and friends. Suharto, as chairman, had to sign any check over $50,000. Soedjono submitted a preliminary report on his findings to President Habibie last June. He was fired five hours later. (The President says Soedjono was dismissed because he stepped outside the line of command on another matter.)

Oil and land

The Suharto reach extended well beyond the foundations' interests, and few deals were more lucrative than the family's oil businesses. In his first decade in power, Suharto allowed state oil conglomerate Pertamina to be run as a private fief by its founder Ibnu Sutowo, a former general once known as the second most powerful man in Indonesia. Sutowo's plan to build a huge tanker fleet for Pertamina brought it to the brink of financial collapse in 1975. He was fired the following year, though it wasn't clear whether the cause was mismanagement or his political ambitions. Now 84, Sutowo tells TIME it was neither. He says Suharto asked him in 1976 to set up a second trading company to ship Indonesian crude oil to Japan. "He said to me, 'I want you to take $0.10 for every barrel traded by the new company,'" Sutowo recalls. "When I said no, I think he was shocked." After Sutowo was fired, Pertamina eventually imported and exported much of its oil through Perta Oil Marketing and Permindo Oil Trading, two small companies in which Tommy and older brother Bambang acquired significant stakes in the mid-1980s. According to a senior official in Habibie's government, the firms received a commission of $0.30 to $0.35 a barrel. In the 1997-98 fiscal year, the two companies handled an average of 500,000 barrels a day, for yearly commissions of more than $50 million. Says former Mines and Energy Minister Subroto: "Pertamina could have exported directly. There was no need for these companies." In addition, a former business associate of Tommy and Bambang Viewpoint says there were extra, unofficial markups on oil exports and imports that earned the firms as much as $200 million a year in the 1980s, when prices were high, and about half that in the 1990s. Suharto family companies received Suharto's Pertamina's contracts for lawyers insurance, security, food supplies and other services -- a total of 170 contracts in all. Last year, shortly after Suharto's fall, Pertamina canceled many of them and announced instant savings of $99 million a year. Says the former associate of the Suharto's: "They milked Pertamina much like a cow." One major Suharto money spinner was PT Nusantara Ampera Bakti, or Nusamba, which was launched with $1.5 billion in 1981 by three of the foundations, together with Bob Hasan and Suharto's eldest son Sigit (who held 10% each). The firm became a sprawling conglomerate with more than 30 subsidiaries in finance, energy, pulp and paper, metal and automobiles. Nusamba's jewel was a 4.7% share in Freeport Indonesia, an American-controlled company that runs the world's largest gold mine in the province of Irian Jaya. In 1992 the foundations apparently transferred their 80% share to Hasan, though it is not clear how much he paid for it. So far, government investigators have not asked to see Nusamba's books. Says Otto Cornelis Kaligis, head of Suharto's eight-member legal team: "When you talk about Nusamba you have to ask Bob Hasan. In the investigation of President Suharto, the Attorney General never asked any questions about Nusamba."

The family profited not only by winning concessions from the government but occasionally by disrupting the lives of individual Indonesians who stood in the way. When Suharto wanted to build a cattle ranch getaway in West Java in 1973, he displaced the inhabitants of five villages spread over 751 hectares. According to official records, he paid a total of $5,243 in compensation. Some villagers say they got nothing. Muhammad Hasanuddin, who was a boy at the time, remembers when his family's two-hectare rice farm was lost. "We saw the fat cows, herded by dozens of men pompously riding on horseback, trampling our ruined fields. The whole family could only cry." Hasanuddin's father ended up as a pedicab driver in Jakarta.

Similar stories abound. In 1996, a company owned by Tommy forced villagers off their land in Bali to build a 650-hectare resort. The firm had a permit for only 130 hectares, which it illegally expanded, according to Sonny Qodri, chairman of Bali's Legal Aid Institute. Residents who refused to sign an agreement to sell their land were intimidated, beaten and sometimes put in a pond up to their necks. Two were brought to court and jailed for six months. Nothing remains of the project now: recession hit just as the bulldozers were moving in.

Hasan Basri Durin, chairman of the National Land Agency and Minister of Land Affairs, says the Suharto family typically paid peanuts for the property it acquired -- the average was 6% of market value -- and reluctant sellers often changed their minds after visits from thugs or soldiers. "Sometimes they didn't pay one cent," says Hasan. "But it's legal because they [the Suhartos] have the documents." Only about half of Indonesia's farmers hold a registered title to their land, so proving ownership can be difficult -- and proving intimidation even harder. As a result, few have come forward to complain.

Children of fortune

For years, Indonesia's corruption was the kind of petty favor- buying and commission-giving commonly found in the developing world. Two factors pushed the country into a league of its own. The first was Indonesia's position as an up-and-coming star performer in the Asian economic miracle, which brought a cascade of funds pouring into businesses and real estate. The World Bank estimates that between 1988 and 1996, Indonesia received more than $130 billion in foreign investment. "All this has been possible under the eyes of the West, which supported Suharto for 30 years," says Carel Mohn, spokesperson for Transparency International, a non-governmental organization based in Berlin. The second factor was "the children," as the Suharto kids are known. All six are involved in business, a calling for which they were groomed from an early age. "I remember when we were younger, me and Bambang and his other friends would go over to Uncle Liem's house," says a childhood pal of Suharto's second son. "Uncle Liem would always give us a package of money wrapped in newspaper." The package, he recalls, would contain banknotes worth $1,000 or more. Says Wati Abdulgani, a businesswoman who dealt with a family company in the 1980s: "The kids saw what was being given to their uncles and they thought, 'What about us, when we grow up?'" Sigit, the eldest son, was apparently pushed into business by his mother, Madam Tien, whose own behind-the- scenes dealings in the 1970s earned her the nickname "Madam Tien Percent." A friend of Mrs. Suharto recalls a conversation with her at the time the government was building Jakarta's Soekarno- Hatta International Airport. "She told me, 'I want Sigit to learn about business,'" says the friend. I thought he should first Suharto's finish university. She said, 'No, no, Sigit can't think straight.'" Two sources who worked on the airport project say that by the time both terminals were finished in 1984, $78.2 million had been given to Sigit in markups that appeared as cost overruns. He says that graduated to bigger deals. The Suharto's collection of ticket proceeds from a national lottery, set up in 1988 by the Department of Social greed Affairs, was handled by a Sigit-linked company until Muslim leaders' anti-gambling protests forced its closure in 1993. "The gambling scheme earned Sigit and his company millions of dollars every week," says Christianto Wibisono of the Indonesian Business Data Center, which has been gathering information on Suharto-related businesses and other firms since 1980.

Second son Bambang, who founded the Bimantara Group in 1981 with two members of his former rock band, was helped in business by Uncle Liem. From 1967 until last year, the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) imported and distributed basic commodities such as wheat, sugar, soybeans and rice through Suharto-linked companies, including six belonging to Liem. At Bambang's request, Liem gave him a slice of the business. Through sugar trading alone, the son is estimated to have earned as much as $70 million a year, essentially for stamping documents. The system worked so well that each of the children was given a cut as he or she moved into business, a practice that continued until last year. From 1997 to '98, Liem had a contract from Bulog to import about 2 million tons of rice valued at $657 million. As part of that contract, Suharto's youngest daughter Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih ("Mamiek") imported 300,000 tons of rice worth $90.3 million. Over the past 18 years, under the pretense of stabilizing food prices, the Suhartos' deals with Bulog have earned them an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion, according to a former government official.

Eldest child Tutut rose to become the queen bee of the Suharto clan. The base of her empire is Citra Lamtoro Gung Group, and its first big business was building and operating toll roads. The group's toll-road arm won its first project in 1987 after the government turned down two competing bids. Financing came from two government banks, a state-owned cement company and a Suharto foundation. When the president of state-owned Bank Bumi Daya turned down Tutut's request for an interest-free loan, he was fired. By the mid-1990s, her roads were earning $210,000 a day, and in 1995 the concession on her Intra Urban Tollway System, the most lucrative in Indonesia, was extended through the year 2024. Explains Teddy Kharsadi, director of corporate affairs at toll- road company PT Citra Marga Nusaphala: "The extension was a reasonable consequence of our investment."

Tutut's empire also includes telecommunications, banking, plantations, flour milling, construction, forestry, sugar- refining and trading. Foreign companies learned to take on a Suharto as a partner if they wanted to do business in Indonesia, and Tutut was first on most lists. "A lot of big multinationals insisted on having the right connections, and these were certainly useful to them," says Graeme Robertson, an Australian- born Indonesian citizen whose Swabara Group is active in coal and gold mining. At the peak of Tutut's power, according to sources close to the family, investors seeking to meet her first had to pay as much as $50,000 as a "consulting fee" to her minders.

In the early 1990s, Indonesia began to heed the advice of market-oriented economists to privatize many of its state firms. The First Family was a major beneficiary. Suharto ended the state telecommunications monopoly in 1993 -- by giving licenses for an international direct-dial operation and for Indonesia's first digital mobile phone network to Bambang's PT Satelit Palapa Indonesia (Satelindo). At the same time, state-owned PT Telkom transferred its customer base to Satelindo when it launched its own satellite, the country's third, with the help of a $120 million loan from the US Export-Import Bank. TIME has learned that Jakarta gave Satelindo the licenses and Telkom's customers without a tender or payment. Thanks to the government, Bambang found himself in control of the company, which the market valued at $2.3 billion in 1995 when a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom paid $586 million for a 25% stake. Bambang also received a major share of a $90 million facilitation fee from Deutsche Telekom as part of the sale.

Too much of a good thing

The Suharto children's interests became so extensive they started colliding with each other. Bambang and Tutut vied to set up their own television stations. Tommy competed with brother Sigit in aviation and with Bambang in shipping and car production. In 1990 the government solicited bids for a contract to provide switching equipment for 350,000 telephone lines. Japan's NEC teamed up with a company controlled by Bambang. Competitor AT&T gave Tutut a 25% share in its local venture, now called PT Lucent Technologies Indonesia. The project was ultimately split 50-50 between Tutut's AT&T group and Bambang's NEC. In 1996, Tutut came up against Sigit for rights to develop the vast Busang gold mine in East Kalimantan. Tutut's partner, Canadian company Barrick Gold, was opposed by Sigit's partner, Bre-X Minerals. This time, both sides lost; Busang turned out to be the biggest hoax in mining history.

The competition grew so intense that the Suharto progeny began seeking monopolies in ever-narrower lines of business. Bambang got a contract to import the special paper used by the national mint. Tutut took over the processing of drivers' licenses. A company owned by Sigit's wife, Elsye, became the sole authorized producer of Indonesia's mandatory identification cards. In 1996 Suharto grandson Ari Sigit devised a scheme to sell $0.25 revenue stickers as proof of tax payment for every bottle of beer and alcohol consumed in Indonesia (that business collapsed when producers stopped shipping beer to tourist mecca Bali in protest). Nine months before Suharto's resignation, Ari was gearing up to launch a "national shoe project" -- all Indonesian children would have to buy school shoes from his company. "At the end," says an American lawyer with 20 years' experience in Indonesia, "the only thing that was transparent was the corruption."

When the Suharto regime fell, the children used their influence to extricate themselves from ailing businesses and debts. In April 1994, Tommy launched the Goro supermarket chain with two of his companies and the Central Village Cooperative, a large, government-run farmers' organization. Together they borrowed more than $100 million in loans, according to Bank Bumi Daya records. No repayments were ever made on the loans. On May 4, 1998, Tommy sold his shares to the farmers and their cooperative for $112 million in cash, saddling them with the entire debt. "The children were very wild," says Ibnu Hartomo, younger brother of Madam Tien. "It seems that they have forgotten about ethics." Angry mobs burned down one Goro store in south Jakarta during riots in May 1998, a week before Suharto resigned.

Though much of the Suharto fortune has been lost through mismanagement and the country's economic collapse -- Tommy's PT Sempati Air, for instance, went bust in 1998 -- the family still has many viable businesses. One of many small examples: Sigit's PT Panutan Selaras produces 25% of the "premix" high-octane gasoline used in Indonesian cars and owns 22 filling stations in Jakarta, Surabaya and Central Java. Tommy's PT Humpuss Trading, meanwhile, is also producing the high-end gasoline. And then there's real estate. While prices have plunged, the family's property holdings are today worth $1 billion, and many -- including rubber and sugar plantations, malls and hotels -- continue to bring in revenue. In the mid-1980s, Bambang paid the government $700 per sq m for a plot of land in central Jakarta on on which now sits the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the prime asset of his publicly listed PT Plaza Indonesia. In Bali, the children ended up with some of the most lucrative gems of the tourist industry: Bali Cliff Hotel (Sigit), Sheraton Nusa Indah Resort (Bambang), Sheraton Laguna Nusa Dua (Bambang), Bali Intercontinental Resort (Bambang, until two months ago), Nikko Royal Hotel (Sigit, until six months ago), the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran (Tommy) and the Bali Golf and Country Club in Nusa Dua (Tommy). Tutut and Tommy bought the land under Jakarta's National Police Headquarters for a fifth of its market value. Minister of Forestry Muslimin Nasution says 4.5 million hectares of forest and plantation land is connected to the Suharto children. Observes Melbourne-based economist Michael Backman, who has written about the Suhartos in his book Asian Eclipse: Exploring the Dark Side of Business in Asia: "Anyone who says the family businesses are broke has got it wrong. They still have shares in timber, oil palm plantations and hotels, all of which are big dollar earners."

The wheels of justice Suharto continues to insist that his assets are modest and located entirely in Indonesia. "He told me, 'I don't have one cent abroad,'" says Kaligis, his top lawyer. "If anyone is found to have set up an account in his name overseas, he has instructed me to launch a lawsuit against them." Since Suharto resigned, son Bambang and his family have been spending time in Los Angeles; Titiek has been in Boston, where her son goes to high school. The rest of the Suhartos live most of the year in Indonesia. Sigit spends hours on his favorite Versace couch (no one else is allowed to sit on it), playing video games and watching tapes of Javanese shadow puppet performances.

But the wheels of justice have barely started moving. Attorney General Ghalib says Suharto has handed over to the government seven foundations with $690 million in assets. Members of Ghalib's own staff, however, say Suharto continues to control those holdings and that the foundations are worth far more than that. Three of the foundations together have an 87% stake in Bank Duta, which had assets of $1 billion in 1990. Yet in investigating the foundations, Ghalib has not gone beyond their printed records, which he has turned over to a state auditing board for analysis. Says Ghalib's predecessor Soedjono: "This investigation isn't going anywhere."

The ongoing reform of Indonesia's banking sector also seems to be helping Suharto family members and associates cover up their debt obligations. Last October, the government announced a plan to merge four state banks -- with a total of $11.5 billion in nonperforming loans -- into one. The six Suharto children and several companies affiliated with them are listed by the government as owing $800 million in bad debts to the four banks. The amount may well be understated: between them, Bambang and Tommy have $635 million in bad loans from just one of the four, Bank Bumi Daya. An official with the bank says that its accounts were falsely reported to the government, including $172 million lent to Hashim Djojohadikusumo, Titiek's brother-in-law, to buy stock in another bank. Borrowing money to purchase bank shares is illegal in Indonesia. Asked to respond, Hashim's office said he was too busy for an interview. When TIME informed Habibie of the loan, the President immediately began looking into it.

A genuine investigation into the Suharto booty will probably have to await the next government. A parliamentary election scheduled for June 7, to be followed by a presidential vote in November, could change the political equation substantially. Two leading presidential candidates, Amien Rais and Abdurrahman Wahid, say they would order a trial for Suharto, probably followed by a pardon if he returns ill-gotten gains. Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of founding President Sukarno and herself a presidential candidate, hasn't made her stand clear. Some analysts think she will leave Suharto alone, out of gratitude for his not imprisoning her father.

The children, however, could be in for rougher treatment. "As long as their father is alive," says a Suharto family friend, "he can probably protect them. After he's gone, they're going to have to run." Three of the six children have homes in the US, so prosecutors there could go after them under tough new laws aimed at corruption and money laundering. Bambang, meanwhile, controls two US-listed companies, which could be subject to investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Suharto himself has at least one strong legal shield: the presidential decrees that laid the foundation for Suharto Inc. Former Finance Minister Mar'ie Muhammad's anti-corruption watchdog, the Indonesian Transparency Society, has labeled as illegal 79 of the 528 such orders issued between 1993 and May 21, 1998. Yet Suharto was careful to have each decree approved by his rubber-stamp parliament, usually at the end of his five-year presidential terms. Moreover, notes Juan Felix Tampubolon, one of Suharto's lawyers, Indonesia has a statute of limitations on most offenses: "For every crime he committed, if any, before 1981, the right to prosecute has expired under the statutory period." For Suharto of Indonesia, that -- along with $9 billion in an Austrian bank -- should offer considerable comfort in retirement.

With reporting by Zamira Loebis, Jason Tedjasukmana and Lisa Rose Weaver/Jakarta, Laird Harrison/Los Angeles, Isabella Ng/Hong Kong, Kate Noble/London and other bureaus

The childrens' wealth

Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana "Tutut" - Age: 50

Estimated wealth: $700 million

Major holdings: Citra Lamtoro Gung Group, with interests in more than 90 companies ranging from telecommunications to infrastructure, including tollway projects in Indonesia and the Philippines

Property: 12-room, $1 million house with tennis court and heated pool near Boston; house on London's Hyde Park Square

Last sighted: Requesting a hike in tollway rates from Indonesia's parliament Operating style: Politically ambitious, Tutut ascended to the level of Minister of Social Affairs in her father's last cabinet. Got her start in business at age 25, when "Uncle" Liem Sioe Liong gave her 14% of BCA, the country's largest private bank. She has also adopted her nephew Ari Sigit's out-of-wedlock daughter, Suharto's great-grandchild. A family friend who traveled to San Francisco on one of Tutut's jets attests to her generosity: "She gave me a first-class ticket home to Jakarta. I can still remember the smell of leather seats and Armani cologne in the bathrooms" photo: AP

Bambang Trihatmodjo - Age: 45

Estimated wealth: $3 billion

Major holdings: 38% of Bimantara Citra, one of Indonesia's largest conglomerates with 27 subsidiaries and interests in everything from oil and gas to hotels, telecommunications and animal feed

Property: $8.2 million Singapore apartment, $12 million Los Angeles estate (a visitor says the latter has two houses, two swimming pools, a tennis court and a basketball court. "The interior design in the guest house was sort of nouveau riche, but worse, with tiger-striped fabric on the couches")

Last sighted: At a bowling alley near Los Angeles Operating style: Has been transferring cash overseas and buying shares in foreign markets for several years. In 1997, say Dutch authorities, he made a "private visit" to the Netherlands- controlled Caribbean island of Curagao--apparently to make a large deposit in the local branch of an international bank. A friend says Bambang once cared about the needy but something happened on the way to the bank: "I think he saw all the people around him getting rich and felt left out" photo: AP

Hutomo Mandala Putra "Tommy" - Age: 36

Estimated wealth: $800 million

Major holdings: 60% of Humpuss Group, which has more than 60 subsidiaries in industries ranging from construction to pharmaceuticals

Property: Ranch in New Zealand, Mill Ride Golf Club, an 18-hole course he partly owns in Ascot, England. Plays there twice a year and is said to have a respectable 12 handicap

Last sighted: Jakarta courthouse, where he is the only Suharto child to stand trial for graft

Operating style: Accomplished stock car racer (once sponsored by Marlboro). Like brother Sigit, he loves to gamble, thinking nothing of losing $1 million in a single sitting. One gaming partner says he used to leave Jakarta on his plane with millions of dollars to wager in European casinos and stop in Singapore on the way home to deposit what was left. "Tommy loves money," says a former business partner. "And he always wanted it up front." Like his father, says a friend of the family, Tommy is "very polite, very cool" photo: AP

Sigit Harjoyudanto - Age: 48

Estimated wealth: $800 million

Major holdings: 40% of brother Tommy's Humpuss Group; silent partner in hundreds of other companies and properties Property: Two homes in exclusive Hampstead area of London worth $12 million each, one in Los Angeles, one outside Geneva

Last sighted: Suharto family compound in Jakarta neighborhood of Menteng Operating style: Serious gambler. Frequented roulette and baccarat tables in London (he loved the Ritz), Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Perth; gambling partners say he wagered up to $3 million a night, with career losses of more than $150 million. After Sigit suffered a bad run in Las Vegas in the late 1980s, his father banned him from gambling abroad. Jakarta bookies organized a call-in cable TV show featuring a baccarat table; Sigit, a friend says, lost more than $20 million: "They set up the scam just for Sigit"

Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih "Mamiek" - Age: 34

Estimated wealth: $30 million

Major holdings: Stakes in several of her siblings' companies plus interests in fruit, transportation and telecommunications. In 1995 the government appointed her company Manggala Krida Yudha to undertake a $500 million reclamation project expanding the North Jakarta seaport. She in turn tried to subcontract the project to Hyundai Engineering for $100 million, but the deal was canceled by the government in an effort to purge corruption

Property: 264-hectare fruit park in West Java

Last sighted: At her home in Jakarta

Operating style: Low-profile chain-smoker. Entered business too late to make much money. Is widely known for her Mekarsari Park near Bogor, set up in 1995 to promote botanical research. A friend says she once approached Mamiek with a business venture. Mamiek got back to her a week later: "I can't do it. Daddy already gave that to Tommy"

Siti Hediati Hariyadi "Titiek" - Age: 40

Estimated wealth: $75 million

Major holdings: Financial services, power, computers, banking, property

Property: Home on London's Grosvenor Square Last sighted: Boston, where her son is attending high school. Her husband, Lieut. General Prabowo Subianto, is in Jordan looking after his brother's business interests and visiting an old friend, Jordan's King Abdullah

Operating style: Chain smoker. Hates dogs. In Jakarta, she slept in one room; her husband and his Alsatians in another. Likes Harry Winston, Bulgari and Cartier. "She loves big chunks of jewelry," says a woman who has accompanied her on excursions to Switzerland and England. Former chairwoman of the Indonesian Fine Arts Foundation, Titiek has a personal art collection valued at more than $5 million. Adores movie stars. At a 1994 Suharto party in Bali to celebrate the opening of Jakarta's Planet Hollywood, she danced the night away with martial arts star Steven Seagal.

Dictator from day one

Time Magazine - May 24, 1999

Pramoedya Ananta Toer -- As the Dutch writer Multatuli has stressed, it is the obligation of every human being to become human. Whoever murders his own kind, therefore, violates the basic principle of his existence. And murder, where there is no legal basis, is a crime against humanity. Simple logic, but it isn't simple in practice. The events in Indonesia of 1965-66 were a test of this basic definition of humanity. Compared with the mass slaughter of those years, all the lies, corruption and nepotism of Suharto's regime are a small, trivial matter.

In early 1966, General Suharto assumed control of the military and the country, months after a faction of the army kidnapped and killed six generals on Sept. 30 the previous year. Indonesian history books and newspapers still refer to this incident as an "attempted communist coup," but there is no evidence that the Communist Party of Indonesia, as an organization, was involved in the kidnapping. The communists had 3 million members and supporters at that time. If they wanted to launch a coup, why didn't they just mobilize their branches in cities and towns outside Jakarta? Why was the party leadership caught completely off guard by the kidnapping? The coup was Suharto's.

For the next 13 days I watched the army hunt, murder and loot until, finally, I myself became one of the victims. People known or suspected to be communists or sympathizers were slaughtered wherever they were found -- on the steps of their houses, on the side of the road, while squatting in the lavatory. The Indonesian elites had lost the ability to resolve their differences peacefully, in the political sphere, and the last word belonged to the group that possessed firearms: the army.

During the first days of October, Armed Forces chief General Nasution made commando-like speeches on the radio, urging the public to "destroy the Communist Party root and branch." After these pronouncements, the murder, looting and burning of the army intensified to the point of insanity. It was Nasution who baptized the military regime with the name "New Order," which is used to this day.

On Oct. 13, 1965, it was my turn to be targeted by a pack of armed, masked men. There were no official, written charges. And what happened to me was also experienced by 1.5 million others. Half a million people were killed, according to the Western press, and some military officials say the number is even higher. Suharto needed the slaughter to instill fear in everyone. He tried to legitimize his rule by claiming Sukarno had conferred power on him in a letter dated March 11, 1966 -- a letter that has never been produced to the public and which is now said to have been "lost."

Suharto's next step, in 1971, was to stage a general election in accordance with his taste and needs. Two years later he required all political currents to merge into just three parties, yielding a "constitutional state" complete with the recognition and support of Western countries.

With the founding of the New Order, the trampling on humanity continued. The killing has never stopped, right up to Suharto's fall and beyond. A prison official once told us: "The only right you still possess is the right to breathe." That was an exaggeration. In reality, many political prisoners were killed, without judicial process, either directly or through inadequate food rations. Outside the concentration camps and the jails, the families of political prisoners were persecuted, humiliated and intimidated by the New Order bureaucracy.

The intellectuals ran for cover beneath Suharto's feet. No one, apart from a few exiles, dared to challenge the New Order, which created new lies to bolster the old ones, so that the untruths were doubled. Every state institution faithfully carried out its main task: to vindicate and support Suharto. Not once did the parliament so much as discuss the fate of the millions who were killed or deprived of their rights.

When I was arrested in October 1965, my study was ransacked and all of my papers destroyed, including unpublished manuscripts. Again, when I left Buru Island concentration camp in 1979, all my papers were taken from me. (Among them was a letter from Suharto, in which he advised me to pray to God for guidance in "returning" to the path of righteousness.) The judiciary never made a sound about the violations of my rights. Everyone agreed with Suharto, every institution was a tool in his hands.

Suharto, whose rule was blighted by the deaths of hundreds of thousands -- perhaps millions -- is a criminal against humanity. Everyone on the face of the earth has the right to bring him to court for his crimes because, as Sukarno was fond of saying, "humanity is one."

I extend my highest respect and appreciation to the students and other people who succeeded in toppling the dictator last spring. They did so without resort to kidnapping, killing, physical abuse, slander or intimidation. It is only their consistent action, to reform the life of the state and the nation, that can rid us of the New Order's criminal brutality and bring Indonesia to a new life.

Suharto orders lawyers to sue Time

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta -- Former Indonesian president Suharto has ordered lawyers to sue Time magazine over a report that it had traced 15 billion dollars accumulated by him and his family, a report said Monday.

"All of the reports on Suharto by Time in this week's edition are big lies," the evening Berita Buana daily quoted Suharto lawyer Felix Tampubolon as saying.

Suharto's order is clear, to take firm action against on the libelous reports by the magazine."

"Therefore, soon we will sue them, and bring them to civil or criminal court. If we don't do something about it, there will be many others who will slander [Suharto] as they like, without strong evidence," he said. "We will go ahead even if [the case has to be heard] in an overseas court," Tampubolon added.

He challenged anyone with evidence of Suharto's wealth to submit it to Indonesia's attoney general who is investigating the wealth accumulated by the Suharto family during his 32 years in power.

"Don't just talk to the media, which only make people confused. Legally speaking, holding evidence is a crime," Tampubolon said.

The Time issue containing the report has yet to be released in Indonesia, but a Time press release containing the main findings made front page news in most newspapers Monday.

Since his fall in May last year Suharto has repeatedly denied that he is wealthy, but has not mentioned that of his six children.

The children between them own, wholly or partly, hundreds of Indonesian companies ranging from shipping to real estate and oil to plantations and toll roads.

Suharto's "favorite child": Habibie

Agence France Presse - May 17, 1999

Jakarta -- A year after Indonesia's long-time president Suharto handpicked his protege B.J. Habibie to succeed him, the German- trained technocrat is still battling to shed his image as the former strongman's "favorite child", analysts say.

Habibie himself said after taking power on May 21, 1998, that he was aware of questions about the legitimacy of his presidency.

Many gave him only a few months in power. But last Friday the ruling Golkar party, Suharto's former political vehicle, endorsed him as its sole candidate for the presidency in November.

"For me, and I think for many others, Habibie is still part of the status quo," political scientist Kusnanto Anggoro said.

Students, whose daily mass protests last year contributed to the resignation of Suharto, have also been relentless in their demand for Habibie to step down and give way to a transitional authority before a "true" election.

Fresh calls for Habibie to resign rang out in the streets of Jakarta last week when thousands of students staged a bus- motorcade on May 12, the first anniversary of the killing of four university students by Indonesian security forces.

"Habibie can claim that he is no longer linked to Suharto, but as his former pupil Habibie's political thinking pattern will not fall far from the pattern of his teacher," political analyst Riswanda Imawan said in the Tempo weekly.

"He was Suharto's favorite 'child' and this image is difficult to erase," Moslem academic Nurcholis Majid said.

In 1974, Suharto lured Habibie back from German industrial group Messerschmitt and put him on industrialisation duty while holding his hand amid the Indonesian political jungle.

He rose to become minister of research and technology and was vice-president when Suharto resigned.

During his year in the presidency, Habibie has lifted restrictions on the press and on freedom of association and released scores of political prisoners, some of whom had languished in jails for three decades.

He has issued or helped the issuance of 261 new laws and regulations as part of his pledge of wide-ranging reforms, including the easing of restrictions on political parties and elections.

His government has pledged a free and fair election on June 7. These will allow the People's Consulative Assembly, the highest legislative body, to be formed to pick a new president and vice president for the next five-year term in November.

Habibie has also offered autonomy to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor and pledged to grant independence if a UN-monitored poll in the province on August 8 shows its people want it.

Habibie's officials claim the economic crisis which has crippled the country since mid-1997 has now bottomed out and the economy is now picking up. They cite lower inflation and a stronger rupiah.

"Fine, he has done things, but when you really look at them there has been no real change in the main important issues," Anggoro said.

"One of the main popular demands, the fight against corruption including an investigation of Suharto, has gone nowhere and leaves much to be desired."

Imawan, from Gajah Mada state university in Yogyakarta, said "the aroma" of corruption and nepotism -- a trademark of the Suharto era -- had begun "to waft out of Habibie's government." This prompted further doubt about his reform credentials.

To the disgust of the general public, reports have surfaced that government officials diverted part of the World Bank loans to help those hardest hit by the crisis.

"We are all certain that Habibie has a clear vision of how to achieve progress for Indonesia ... in the future," Golkar chairman Akbar Tanjung said Friday announcing his candidacy.

Anggoro said that, on paper, Habibie would have no trouble getting the necessary votes in the People's Consulative Assembly for his next term if Golkar retained a clear majority in the June election.

But three major political parties headed by or linked to his three main rivals, reformist leaders Amien Rais, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Abudrrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, have said they will cooperate to prevent a Golkar victory.

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