Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia

ASIET Net News 24 – June 14-20, 1999

East Timor

 June 7 election  Aceh/West Papua  Labour issues  Human rights/Law  News & issues  Arms/Armed forces  Economy and investment  
East Timor

UN chief finds cache of militia weapons

Sydney Morning Herald - June 18, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili -- The United Nations chief in East Timor, Mr Ian Martin, has personally investigated reports of villagers being abducted by pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor's violence-prone western district.

During a visit to Liquica yesterday, Mr Martin, who was accompanied by an Australian Federal police officer, Mr Steve Polden, came across an illegal militia training session and discovered a cache of homemade weapons.

"Obviously we [the UN] were not expecting to see a group of Besi Merah Putih [militia]) in training and to discover as we did -- although they told us they had no weapons -- there were weapons there," Mr Martin said. "That is something obviously we raised with the police."

Liquica, a small town about 25 kilometres west of the provincial capital, Dili, has been the scene of extensive militia activity, and a continuous problem for the UN. In recent months the militia have burnt houses, terrorised inhabitants and destroyed the property of suspected independence supporters. "Liquica is one of the regions from which we've had the greatest number of reports of violence and militia activity and that's why I wanted to come here," Mr Martin said.

He was also accompanied by several senior Indonesian army officers. In discussions with local authorities he raised the question of reports of Indonesian soldiers co-operating with the militia. He said there was a reluctance on the part of the authorities "to acknowledge all the information we have is correct".

The local district chief also denied UN claims concerning the number of internally displaced people in Liquica.

At a briefing earlier yesterday, the spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission to East Timor, Mr David Wimhurst, said: "The purpose of the trip is to look at the ongoing problem in Liquica of internally displaced people of which there are a large number in that area." He said they were also "very concerned" about reports that people were being forceably trucked out of their villages.

About 3,000 people are thought to have been displaced by recent militia violence in Liquica according to the UN refugee agency, raising serious concerns about their health and security.

Many of the attacks have been carried out by the Besi Merah Putih militia including one during the weekend of April 5-6 in which at least 25 people were killed.

If claims of widespread dislocation and abduction of villagers are proved, it could point to an ominous new strategy on the part of the pro-Jakarta militias.

Taking villagers out of their homes and relocating them in militia-controlled "refugee camps" will inevitably delay the key voter registration phase of the UN's mission here.

Voter registration is scheduled to start on June 22, a process expected to last 20 days, but privately diplomats and UN officials say that process is now likely to be delayed.

Voting for the UN-organised referendum is scheduled for August 8 but that date is also likely to be put back by at least three weeks.

Mr Martin is due to fly to Darwin today where he will brief a team of UN electoral volunteers and UN civilian police before flying to Canberra to meet senior Australian Government officials and hold more talks on the East Timor peace process.

The UN Secretary-General's envoy on East Timor, Mr Jamsheed Marker, is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Sunday to hold talks with senior Indonesian Government officials including the Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Alatas.

From Jakarta Mr Marker will fly to Canberra for briefings with Australian Government officials between July 4 and July 7.

UN catches Indonesia red-handed

The Australian - June 19, 1999

Peter Alford -- Driving towards a hostage handover in the north- west of East Timor on Tuesday morning, a group of UN officials surprised a militia group in the act of terrorising Leotela village. It was hard to miss.

Virtually at the roadside, militiamen of the now-notorious Besar Mera Puti (Red and White Flag) were beating an old man, clothes smouldered among the ashes of recently burned huts and people were being driven away from the village. Yesterday, Leotela was deserted, even by farm animals. Only a few buildings stood among the charred timbers -- a now familiar sight in this part of the island.

The UN's East Timor mission, UNAMET, has received hundreds of reports of similar intimidation by pro-Indonesian militias.

The refugee aid agency Caritas estimates about 40,000 people, five percent of East Timor's population, have been "displaced" in this way.

But it was the first time since their arrival a month ago that UNAMET officials had seen for themselves.

They also caught Indonesian soldiers red-handed. Just as had been alleged previously, the BMP depredations at Leotela were being overseen by several uniformed soldiers, from the 143rd Battalion's nearby Ebono base.

Earlier, as they drove into the hills to accept the handover of an Indonesian soldier and a militiaman captured last week by pro-independence Falantil guerillas, the UNAMET team had seen two other BNP groups accompanied by Indonesian soldiers.

For UNAMET, this was the smoking gun: proof positive that Indonesian soldiers, at least those on the ground, continue to abet vicious militia actions against local populations in utter defiance of the terms agreed by Indonesia for a peaceful, UN- supervised act of self-determination by the East Timorese on August 8.

"We have continued to receive many reports of continuing actions by pro-integration militias in the villages, apparently encouraged, rather than discouraged, by TNI [the Indonesian army]," UNAMET chief Ian Martin said yesterday. "We have now actually witnessed for ourselves incidents consistent with the reports we've been receiving."

Mr Martin is virtually certain to advise UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan voter registration cannot begin as scheduled on Wednesday under secure, intimidation-free conditions.

At this stage, UNAMET believes registration, the first step towards East Timor's referendum on whether to become an independent nation or remain as an autonomous Indonesian province, is menaced by population displacement and other intimidation.

Mr Annan's acceptance of this advice would postpone the August 8 ballot -- speculation has it as one to three weeks -- while UNAMET, the Jakarta Government and Indonesian police who now are charged with maintaining order in East Timor try to bring the militias and their sponsors to heel.

How far up the TNI chain of command this campaign of intimidation is sanctioned is a matter of dispute.

Pro-independence leader David Ximenes says it starts with generals from Jakarta advising the East Timor military command while Mr Martin says he still believes the army and police commands are acting in good faith.

The other thing underlined by UNAMET's belated discovery at Leotela this week is that the framers of the referendum agreement, Indonesia, former colonist Portugal and the UN Security Council, badly underestimated the time and effort needed to restore order on the ground.

The Indonesian police, who are supposed to maintain the peace, are struggling to make their presence felt in towns and villages where the army still dictates terms.

UNAMET's monitoring teams only started fanning out into the province this week, while its international police contingent only begins arriving today.

But the Indonesian Government and the pro-autonomy groups remain insistent the August 8 timetable should stick.

This puts the UN in potentially an even nastier situation. A decision by Mr Annan to postpone the vote risks sparking another wave of the violence that has so far this year claimed more than 200 East Timorese lives.

Either way, securing the "peaceful implementation of the popular consultation" envisaged by the May 5 agreement looks like an heroic task right now.

UN witnesses beatings, burnings, training

Agence France Presse - June 18, 1999

Dili -- The UN mission in East Timor said Friday it has seen Indonesian military-backed militia burning houses and intimidating people, posing a "serious obstacle" to a vote on the territory's future.

"Our team encountered three separate groups of Besih Merah Putih (Red and White Iron) militia accompanied by and indeed directed by TNI (Indonesian army) soldiers carrying out operations in the area," Ian Martin, head of the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) said. The training was witnessed in the Liquisa district west of Dili Thursday, he said.

A third militia group was seen "burning personal property, assaulting an old man and seeking to drive villagers out of Leotela village against their will," he said.

"That is exactly the kind of incident of which we have received extensive reports." Martin said the incidents helped explain the "extensive internal displacement" of people especially in the western districts of East Timor.

"Most of these people are not in concentrations, but are being driven from one village to another. But it is clear that there are tens of thousands of internally displaced people at the moment giving rise to very serious humanitarian concerns and also of course a serious obstacle to the registration exercise which is the first major practical part of the consultation," Martin said.

Whether the intimidation would force a delay in the scheduled August 8 vote when East Timorese decide between independence or autonomy was being discussed at the UN headquarters, he added,

"I can't say anything at the moment about a delay. Obviously that's under discussion in New York," said Martin, speaking before flying to Darwin, Australia where he is to meet the first group of UN police to arrive in Dili on Saturday.

A step towards peace in East Timor

CNRT press release - June 18, 1999

Salemba -- Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, President of the CNRT, participated in the three-day meeting of the Peace and Stability Commission (PSC) that was concluded in Jakarta today. The following points were adopted during the PSC meetings:

Following the PSC meeting, the participants went to the Ministry of Defense to meet with General Wiranto, Minister of Defense and Commander-in-Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces.

The President of the CNRT, Xanana Gusmao, emphatically reiterated in both meetings the necessity to close down all the military posts spread throughout the territory, and for TNI to be confined to barracks as necessary conditions for the implementation of the disarmament.

In spite of the fact that these meetings constitute a significant first step towards the creation of a peaceful environment in East Timor, the CNRT President considers that its implementation on the ground will be arduous. It is up to TNI and Polri to abide by the promises of neutrality made by General Wiranto. The credibility of both the Indonesian Minister of Defence and the government of the Republic of Indonesia as a whole are at stake.

Jakarta sets up media centre in East Timor

Kompas - June 15, 1999 (slightly summarised)

The Indonesian govt's Taskforce for Implementation of the Consultation in East Timor, in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Information, has set up a Media Centre to handle all information relating to the Consultation in East Timor.

"We recognise the need for coordination between the media and press workers in this region so as to avoid misunderstandings among people working for the press," said Paul J. Amalo, head of the Media Centre, in Dili on Monday. He added that it was necessary to ensure that before writing their articles, journalists should understand deeply the matter that they were reporting.

The primary purpose of the Centre will be coordination and consultation for all media representatives in E Timor. The Centre will also handle facilities available to the domestic and foreign press and provide sources of information who can be consulted as necessary on gaining an understanding of the autonomy concept.

The Centre will endeavour to ensure that reports published by the press are balanced and are not such as to cause unrest in society.

The Centre now has an office, several computers and phones, to help journalists in the communications, said the Centre's secretary Jantje Parera.

2nd batch of Indonesian police go to Timor

Agence France Presse - June 15, 1999

Jakarta -- Indonesia on Tuesday sent a second batch of 821 police reinforcements to East Timor ahead of the August 8 UN-monitored ballot to determine the future of the former Portuguese colony.

The contingent, mostly from the elite police mobile brigade also included 10 police detectives and 10 liaison officers. They left the Jakarta navy base aboard the Teluk Amboina 503 navy ship bound for East Timor, television showed.

The contingent, the second sent to East Timor after 452 police personnel who arrived in the main town Dili in the first week of June, will reinforce some 5,000 police personnel there.

"Therefore for the time being, our forces there will be adequate and we will evaluate later whether we will need more additions as it will depend on the situation there," said Major General S. Bimantoro, the operational assistant to the national police chief.

The Indonesian police reinforcement contingents, code-named Lorosae, will be tasked with maintaining security in East Timor before the August polls, Bimantoro said. They will also safeguard the balloting and the UN personnel deployed there for the ballot, Bimantoro said.

Under a May 5 agreement signed by Portugal and Indonesia at the United Nations, Indonesian police will be responsible for the ballot security.

With the assistance of 270 unarmed UN civilian police, they will be responsible for disarming rival supporters and opponents of independence for East Timor, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975.

The contingent sailed off as a US diplomat here voiced sharp criticism over security in the territory. "Pro-integration militias, backed by elements of the Indonesia military have attempted to bias the vote through violence and attempted initimidation of pro-independence East Timorese," a US diplomat told AFP.

The Indonesian government which held the sole responsibility for security in East Timor had not reined in or disarmed the militias. "Indeed, there is mounting evidence of Indonesian military support for militia activities," the diplomat added.

"It is crucial for the Indonesian governement to act swiftly to bring the militias under control and address the security situation in East Timor."

Violence, particularly by Indonesian army-backed militia, has spiralled since the government in January offered the territory independence if the population reject an offer of autonomy.

The first batch of unarmed UN civilian police force, 38 men from five countries, is expected to arrive in Dili on Saturday.

Peace and Stability Commission meets

Lusa - June 16, 1999

Jakarta -- East Timor's Peace and Stability Commission began Wednesday a series of meetings aiming to define a code of conduct for rival factions before, during and after the half-island's August 8 autonomy-or-independence plebiscite

Wednesday's five-hour meeting was held at the Indonesian Justice Ministry in Jakarta and counted the presence of the detained East Timor resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao. Gusmao did not speak to reporters after the talks and returned to the Jakarta residence where he is held under house arrest. The talks will resume Thursday

Gusmao was accompanied to the meeting by Leandro Isaac, the resistance representative in Dili, the East Timor capital. Others present at the encounter were Joko Sugianto and Kusparmono Irsand of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komans HAM); the UN secretary-general's special envoy for East Timor, Tamrat Samuel; the vice-chief of the territory's Indonesian police, Col. Musafi Sahuji; and Domingos Soares and Gabriel da Costa of the territory's pro-Indonesia Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice (FPDK)

Sugianto later told reporters that disarmament was not discussed, as both sides (pro- and anti-independence) are tentatively prepared to deal with the issue

Earlier, Gusmao lawyer Johnson Panjaitan told Lusa that the Commission would also discuss the next East Timor reconciliation talks, known as Dare II, which are being organized by the territory's two Catholic bishops, though a date has yet to be announced

The Peace and Stability Commission is sponsored by Komans HAM It was founded on April 20 following an agreement between resistance forces and supporters of integration (within Indonesia), signed in the presence of Indonesia's defense minister and armed forces chief, Gen. Wiranto.

Jakarta bans propaganda use for aid money

Sydney Morning Herald - June 16, 1999

By Peter Cole-Adams, Mark Dodd and Lindsay Murdoch -- The Indonesian Government says it has stopped attempts by the provincial government in East Timor to channel money from an aid budget into the anti-independence campaign for the territory's forthcoming plebiscite.

Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar, senior foreign policy adviser to the President, Dr B.J. Habibie, said yesterday that Jakarta had refused a request made by East Timor's Governor Abilio Soares for the disbursement of money from the national budget to be used for sosialisasi -- a propaganda program for East Timor to choose wider autonomy within Indonesia over the independence option in the August 8 ballot.

Dr Anwar said the request was denied because of fears the money may have been misused. Asked whether the refusal to send the money had anything to do with the personal image of Governor Soares, Dr Anwar said: "Well, there have been lots of complaints about the local government of East Timor."

Dr Anwar said the responsibility for informing the people of East Timor about Jakarta's autonomy package rested with the United Nations, not the local government.

Governor Soares' approval of pro-autonomy campaign funding requests by local mayors, revealed in documents cited by the Herald yesterday, has led to the the UN mission in East Timor raising its concern with Indonesian authorities, a senior UN official said yesterday.

The documents received by the Herald showed local authorities planned to use some $A7 million in poverty alleviation funds to promote pro-autonomy actions, breaking the agreement signed by Indonesia with Portugal and the UN for the act of self- determination in the former Portuguese colony.

"We have requested that appropriate instructions are issued to all East Timorese government officials which clearly state the limitations on their activities within the popular consultation process," said UN spokesman Mr David Wimhurst.

"Namely, they cannot participate in any official capacity in any campaign rallies. No public money can be used to fund any of these events, no resources can be used and the pressure of public office cannot be brought to bear to influence voter decisions."

In Canberra, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, said the Government had no evidence of any misuse of Australian aid funds, which were usually channelled through contracted project managers and multilateral organisations, not the Indonesian Government. Australia is East Timor's largest foreign aid donor, providing about $7 million this financial year.

Jakarta warns Horta over bid to return

Agence France Presse - June 16, 1999

Jakarta -- Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said Wednesday that Indonesia stood firm in barring the return of self-exiled resistance activist Jose Ramos Horta to East Timor, and warned him against trying to enter the territory illegally.

"The Indonesian government will not give a visa to Ramos Horta," Alatas told journalists before attending a cabinet meeting at the Bina Graha presidential office. "If he tries to come in, he must take full responsibility for the consequences," Alatas warned.

Ramos Horta, who won the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with the Bishop of Dili, Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo, said last week that regardless of Jakarta's stand, he will return in July to campaign for independence ahead of a UN vote on the future of East Timor.

Alatas' comment came a day after a US diplomat here said Washington supported Ramos Horta's demands to be allowed back to the territory to campaign before its people vote in August for either independence or autonomy.

The Indonesian minister said that an agreement on the ballot reached between Indonesia and Portugal at the United Nations in New York in May specifically said the UN would consult East Timorese in the territory, in other regions in Indonesia or in exile abroad. "This was the agreement," Alatas said.

Western diplomats whose countries are sending volunteers to the UN force which will oversee the vote, told AFP here that there was no clause in the UN agreement preventing the return of exiled East Timorese.

On Tuesday a US diplomat here said that: "The US supports the right of Ramos Horta and other East Timorese to return to East Timor to campaign on behalf of their views.

"If resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, now under house arrest in Jakarta, chooses to participate in the campaign, we also support his right to do so," the diplomat told AFP.

Meanwhile, the state Antara news agency reported from Lisbon that the former president of East Timor's Fretilin pro-independence movement, Abilio Araujo, who now favors autonomy, will visit Indonesia.

Araujo has headed a splinter faction of the Fretilin which had consented to meet pro-Indonesian East Timorese under a Jakarta- brokered "reconciliation dialogue" since 1993.

"My visit to Indonesia is in the interest of a popular consultation in accordance with the procedure already agreed upon in the latest tripartite meeting," Araujo was quoted by Antara as saying before leaving for Indonesia.

"I would like to proceed with the process of reconciliation among East Timorese and at the same time discuss the best future for the East Timorese," he said.

Araujo, who now chairs the Timorese Third Way Movement (TTWM), said the autonomy package implied "independence plus" to the East Timorese. He said the East Timorese people must be aware of the "adverse consequences" that the independence option carried.

"What East Timor needs is not its own independence, but rather an opportunity to correctly develop its own potential," he said.

The population of the former Portuguese colony are to take part in a UN-supervised vote on whether they want autonomy under Indonesia or to move towards independence.

Violence between the two camps has escalated since Jakarta announced in January that it may let go of East Timor if the autonomy deal was rejected.

Army defies UN in autonomy rally

Sydney Morning Herald - June 14, 1999

Mark Dodd, Sarmara village -- In a swathe of secluded backwoods villages and hamlets across East Timor's remote coffee-growing highlands, pro-Indonesia militias and their army allies continue a deadly campaign to coerce a hapless population to support their autonomy cause.

"We, the Government and militias together, will support the program towards integration," said a senior district government official in an indoctrination speech to about 300 villagers ordered to attend a rally outside this impoverished mountain village, about five hours from the provincial capital of Dili.

The rally, a brazen violation of an international agreement signed by Jakarta, was held last Thursday.

For the first time, local government officials -- including police and army personnel -- were caught red-handed together with the pro-autonomy "Darah Integrasi" militia, an event witnessed by a senior UN official and a news team from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Loudspeakers blared out the autonomy message while 30 militiamen, many wearing red and white headbands and armed with traditional curved swords, stood watch over a bewildered mass of villagers.

Present were a "Camat", or sub-district chief, about 12 district officials, police, and three military personnel with weapons normally given to special forces units, including a modern Italian-made Beretta 9mm sub-machine gun.

Despite a half-hearted attempt by one Indonesian soldier to stop the UN vehicle from reaching the rally, the government officials were taken by surprise.

Moments after arriving, one district government inspector, clearly angered, ordered the UN interpreter not to translate the broadcast but to say the speech concerned a farming and water project.

The government officials were seated under a makeshift shelter flanked by militiamen. On seeing the newsmen, the three soldiers turned their backs on the rally, shouldered their weapons and walked towards what appeared to be a small military compound.

Under the UN-brokered agreement signed on May 5, Indonesian soldiers and government officials are expected to remain neutral and are banned from involvement in political activities.

East Timorese are scheduled to vote on August 8 for either a wide-ranging autonomy package within Indonesia or outright independence.

However political violence, mostly instigated by pro-Jakarta militias, has left more than 100 dead since January and threatens to delay that timetable.

Last week refugees, teachers and priests shared a similar story of widespread militia intimidation across East Timor's western districts, in particular Liquica, Ermera, Bobanaro and Kova-Lima.

Most independence supporters and leaders have been driven underground and are too afraid to emerge. The UN Special Representative for East Timor, Mr Ian Martin, told the Herald last week that continuing security problems could delay the first phase of the operation -- voter registration.

East Timorese resistance fighters (Falintil) have been involved in a handful of attacks since January, but for the most part they have avoided confrontation, obeying ceasefire orders from their leader, Xanana Gusmao, who is under house arrest in Jakarta.

One legacy of the militia violence has been to create a massive pool of internally displaced people. Church sources say up to 36,000 East Timorese have been forced out of their homes.

An official from the UN refugee agency said 2,900 refugees were living in appalling conditions in western Liquica with little or no access to adequate food and medicine. He said 45 children had died there in the past month.

One senior UN official told the Herald: "When the people are scared they do not stay in large groups otherwise they are sitting ducks. It's like the Congo or Guatemala here."

A religious teacher from the village of Hatolia confirmed accounts of militia attacks. "All the people are afraid. If there is help from the UN they will not be intimidated and they can vote freely. If not, they won't vote," he said.

Jakarta raids aid cash to buy Timor votes

Sydney Morning Herald - June 15, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili -- Indonesian authorities in East Timor plan to use more than $7 million in aid money earmarked for the poor to fund pro-autonomy propaganda and militia groups, according to documents obtained by the Herald. The documents, signed this month by the East Timor Governor, Mr Abilio Soares, authorise the district head in Ambeno, for example, to spend much of his 3 billion rupiah ($200,000) allocation from President Habibie's Social Safety Net program in support of the autonomy cause.

Diplomats and analysts say that the documents, if authenticated, could indicate a misuse of international aid from countries such as Australia which have given substantial amounts to help ease Indonesia's financial crisis.

Australia has given Indonesia more than $45 million in humanitarian assistance to help cope with the Asian economic crisis.

Asked yesterday if government funds could be used to promote autonomy, the United Nations spokesman in Dili, Mr David Wimhurst, said: "It is totally prohibited."

He also criticised the continuing role of East Timorese government officials in pro-autonomy rallies across the province, saying campaigning for the referendum was not scheduled to begin until July 20.

Government officials are banned from taking part in political rallies in support of either the pro-autonomy or pro-independence cases, he added.

For Ambeno, the document recommends that 20 per cent of the 1999-2000 allocation from the Social Safety Net program be given to "sosialisasi" -- the term widely used in government circles here for propaganda for the autonomy option.

A further 5 per cent is earmarked for the Pamswarakasa, or village-level civil defence, a controversial security force comprising members of staunch pro-Jakarta militias involved in recent widespread political violence.

The United Nations Assistance Mission to East Timor (UNAMET) has questioned the legality of the Pamswarakasa but is yet to make a formal response to the Indonesian authorities.

A second document dated May 21, 1999, earmarks a similar percentage of money for the eastern district of Los Palos.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, will assess within days whether security conditions in East Timor will allow the vital first phase of the East Timor plebiscite -- voter registration.

Several senior UN officials say privately that they would not be surprised if the referendum date is pushed back because of continuing security problems.

The UN's Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Mr Keiran Prendergast, said in a report to the Security Council on Thursday:

"Reports carried back by UN personnel who have now visited every region of East Timor indicate a climate of violence, fear and intimidation pervades much of daily life in many areas outside Dili.

"In many areas, the pro-integration militias which have been the primary source of recent violence continue to operate with impunity and with the apparent aim of ensuring that the populace in their areas vote for autonomy."

Experts who have seen the documents say the Safety Social Net cash will be used to fund political activities across the 13 East Timorese districts -- in all, worth more than $7million.

Two documents addressed to the "Bupati" or mayors of Ambeno and Los Palos are written as replies to earlier spending proposals.

UN team launches information campaign

Agence France Presse - June 12, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Dili -- A UN mission on Saturday launched a campaign in East Timor to inform the population of the options available for the future of the territory ahead of a self-determination ballot in August.The UN Assessment Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) published a page of information in East Timor's main daily, "The Voice of East Timor."

The special page, in Indonesian, English, Portuguese and the native Tetum, will be published every day on the back page of newspapers until the August 8 poll.

"Welcome to meet us in the UNAMET page" a headline in the first edition said, announcing that through the page, the UN mission "will be explaining what the UNAMET is here to do."

The page, carrying no picture, will also provide information on Indonesia's offer of wide ranging autonomy as well as the option of an independent state, it added.

Another headline in the first page edition declared that "UNAMET does not take sides." In the article UNAMET underlined its impartial role in East Timor to ensure a successful and fair campaign starting July 20 and to guarantee a free and secret ballot on August 8, said the UNAMET page.

UNAMET chief Ian Martin, in the first issue of the information page, reminded Indonesian officials that they were not allowed to take part in the campaigns and that state facilities should not be used for the campaign.

The state Radio Republik Indonesia will Sunday begin broadcasting a similar program, UNAMET spokesman, David Wimhurst said.

An article in the frontpage of the daily said that publication of the page was the result of a cooperation between the daily and UNAMET.

It said it will attempt to inform the population about the special autonomy package, the process and procedure for the registration of voters and for the voting. The page will also "explain the consequences of accepting or rejecting the autonomy proposal."

The UNAMET page was warmly greeted by the local population, with men and women seen on the side of the city's commercial streets reading the page alone or in groups.

Saturday was the first anniversary of a mass rally by East Timorese students outside the foreign ministry in Jakarta.

Some 50 students danced and sang patriotic songs outside the office of the East Timorese Students' Association to commemorate the event which had heard students protestors call for a referendum.

"And now referendum has come," a student leader, who identified himself only as Maukura, triumphantly said.

An official of the pro-independence National Resistance Council for East Timor (CNRT), Leandro Isaac, told the students that they could help find solutions to the East Timorese problems with their pens and books.

He said despite increased tension among the pro-Indonesian militia groups ever since Jakarta offered its proposal, the CNRT would not be provoked.

"There are a lot of provocation from the militias, the CNRT doesn't respond We forgive them, they are a victim of the strategy," he added.

The CNRT office was among the buildings attacked by armed pro- Indonesia militia rampaging unchecked in Dili in April. Pro- independence supporters were also targeted and Issac spent over one month under police protection at the local police headquarters.
June 7 election

Amien backs Megawati

The Nation (Bangkok) - 17 June 1999

Jakarta -- In a move likely to infuriate right-wing groups, Indonesian Muslim leader Amien Rais openly threw his support behind Megawati Sukarnoputri to become Indonesia's next president.

Amien reiterated his stance at a packed press conference yesterday in Jakarta, saying that the Koran does not have any verse that discriminates women from men.

"According to the Holy Koran, which I believe as being absolutely right, men and women are on an equal footing in front of God," Amien said, citing a long Koranic verse in Arabic which basically means that woman workers are similar to male workers.

Amien, who is the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and used to head the Muhammadiyah Muslim group, Indonesia's second largest Muslim organisation, raised the issue in an apparent bid to counter arguments from various strong Muslim organisations that Megawati should not become president.

They said that Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P), which is widely speculated to win nearly 40 per cent of the vote in last week's elections, had fielded a disproportionate number of "non-Muslim" candidates.

The Muslim clerics, one of whom belongs to the Muslim-based Crescent Star Party, also oppose Megawati, saying that the Koran basically positions men to be "imams" or leaders.

The Indonesian Ulama Council, the government-sanctioned Muslim umbrella group here, called on Muslims not to vote for the PDI-P just a few days before the June 7 election, distributing leaflets and organising prayers in many mosques to stop voters from choosing Megawati.

"Women can become generals, women can become presidents, women can become doctors, women can become professors, or whatever they want because they are as good as men," Amien said.

Despite his support for Megawati as president, Amien declined to have his party become a junior partner in a Megawati government, saying that the PAN has some fundamental differences with the PDI-P.

His party is projected to get around 40 seats in the 500-strong House of Representatives. Although the number is not as big as other parties, such as Megawati's PDI-P, but it might tip the balance between the Megawati camp and the Muslim camps.

Amien also stressed that he is also not going to join President B.J. Habibie's Golkar that is still trying to build a coalition with the United Development Party as well as some other Islamic parties.

He argued that if his party sided with Golkar, students will predictably stage street rallies to protest against such a controversial decision, saying that the image of the PAN as a reformist organisation will also be destroyed.

Amien unexpectedly met Habibie last week to discuss the election. The unreported meeting raised speculations here that Amien is to support a Habibie presidency or a coalition with Golkar.

But Amien played down the speculation, saying that he basically likes to open communication channels with everyone, which includes Habibie. "I also met General Wiranto of the armed forces last night and you still do not know that," said Amien, catching many a journalist by surprise.

He said both Wiranto and himself discussed the progress of the election, adding they agreed that basically it was a free and fair process although the elections in Aceh in northern Sumatra were problematic.

Wiranto, the Number One man of the Indonesian military, is speculated to become the vice president in a Megawati presidency.

More reports on poll violations flow in

Jakarta Post - June 15, 1999

Jakarta -- Reports of irregularities and violations in the June 7 general election have continued to hold back the already slow tallying of votes by the General Elections Commission.

In Asahan, North Sumatra, members of the local election committee refused to verify sign the results because of reports of violations.

They said several subdistricts had received only one lot of ballot papers instead of the three required for the House of Representatives and the provincial and regional legislative bodies. They charged that in Pahang village, Talawi subdistrict, one political party, which was not identified, was found to have rigged the vote.

Mudyono, chairman of the North Sumatra Provincial Elections Committee, said his committee would look into the reported violations in the Asahan regency and would take "strict" action if necessary.

Siswanto, a volunteer with the Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP), suffered a serious injury to his head after monitoring elections in Paluh Kemiri village in Lubuk Pakam, North Sumatra.

He was stoned by an unidentified man while walking alone in the village and taken to hospital in Lubuk Pakam town.

In Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, more than 40 supporters of 15 political parties demonstrated at the provincial elections committee office to protest alleged violations by the Golkar Party. They demanded the party be disqualified from the elections.

The demonstrators said Golkar had distributed to local people bathing soap with the packages reading, "Don't forget to vote for Golkar on June 7", as well as ballot samples containing from Rp 10,000 to Rp 25,000 in cash, days before balloting day.

In Dili, East Timor, Abdul Hakim, secretary to the provincial elections committee, said many locals said they had been intimidated by prointegration groups to vote for Golkar.

In Palu, Central Sulawesi, the Democratic People's Party (PRD) condemned alleged vote-buying by Golkar. The party on Monday made similar statements in other towns.

Meanwhile, representatives of poll watchdog Jamppi said 18 political parties had demanded polls be repeated in South Sulawesi, because of vote- buying and other violations.

Wahida of Jamppi said on Monday at a media conference in Jakarta that such violations by Golkar were reported to have occurred in Pelewali Mamasa, Tanah Toraja, Sidenreng Rappang, Bulu Kumba and Maros.

Wahida said that the 18 parties, in a joint statement, had voiced their demands for repeated polls to several regional elections committees but had received no response.

The parties include the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), National Mandate Party (PAN), United Development Party (PPP) and the Justice Party (PK).

In Pelewali Mamasa, the head of a Village Resilience Board (LKMD) reportedly threatened Tubbi villagers of Tutallu district to drag them to the police station if they did not vote for Golkar.

The chairman of a subdistrict polling committee reportedly threatened villagers before they voted that if Golkar did not win, road construction in their village would not be started.

In the Campalagian district, the wife of a Golkar legislative candidate assumed the duties of the district polling committee by bringing ballot boxes and ballot cards to polling booths in the area, raising fears of possible vote-rigging.

No member of the local poll committee checked the ballot papers before voting begun, Wahida said.

The head of Ponyampa village, in the same district, apparently threatened to evict residents from the village if they were found to have not voted for Golkar.

In Tanah Toraja, the wife of a Golkar candidate reportedly voted under at least four different names in polling booth IV of Kalimbuang, Ka'do village.

In Pakelo, Sanggalla district, the head of a polling place was found to have voted at another station, as well as the station he was head of.

Elections riddled with infractions, reports say

Jakarta Post - June 14, 1999

Jakarta -- Reports of widespread vote-rigging have been flowing in to Jakarta faster than the notoriously slow returns from the June 7 general election, with the Golkar Party saddled with most of the flak.

Most common violations of the electoral rules include vote buying, government officials favoring Golkar, misuse of state facilities and intimidation.

Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP) activists reportedly spotted an intelligence police officer, Zulfikar Basaudi, casting his vote in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra.

Under Indonesian electoral laws, members of the Indonesian Military and Police are barred from voting.

After voting, Zulfikar reportedly made a speech, encouraging people to reject the polls because he said the ink used on the ballots was substandard.

In North Mukomuko district in the neighboring province of Bengkulu, the Indonesian Election Monitoring Organizations Committee (Koppi) found five illegal polling booths which provided 500 votes to Golkar.

Koppi activists said the illegal polling places were initiated by district election committee members who sympathized with Golkar. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) is ahead in votes in the area.

Vote buying, the most common violation allegedly perpetrated by Golkar, is also reported to have occurred in Timor Tengah Selatan district, East Nusa Tenggara. Twelve Golkar district officials have admitted to receiving Rp 100,000 each from a Golkar legislative candidate seeking their support.

In Yogyakarta, dozens of supporters of the Democratic People's Party (PRD) held a demonstration on the campus of Gadjah Mada University to demand that the poll supervisory authorities disqualify Golkar and the People's Sovereignty Party (PDR) for alleged vote buying and misuse of state facilities.

From Palu in Central Sulawesi, Antara reported on Saturday that it found a radiogram from the Banggai regent here instructing officials to help ensure a win in the polls for a particular party.

It quoted the head of the provincial secretariat of the University Network for Free and Fair Elections (Unfrel), Iwan Gunawan, as saying members of the local election committees acted on the instruction by opening ballot boxes a few hours before vote tallying when witnesses were not present.

Unfrel also said in almost all villages several envelopes at polling stations in the Banggai islands were not sealed after the poll and ballot papers were not marked.

Iwan also charged the local Golkar treasurer of distributing Rp 5,000 to each resident in the transmigration complex of Toili VIII in Toili district.

In Bangket village in Bunta district, Unfrel said the key to a ballot box was being held by the police. Intervention of police in the poll process is illegal. Poll committee members except Gokar were not allowed to monitor the sending of ballot boxes to the district committee, the agency reported. Iwan said the network would immediately report all serious violations to the official supervisory election committee in the province. It also will urge the committee to disqualify the parties from participating in the next phase of the polls, which is the allocation of seats following tabulation.

Unfrel did not approve of reholding the polls "because it will be the people who would bear the costs".

Twenty-five parties grouped in the Communication Forum of Political Parties in Banggai regency have urged the regional election committee to restage the vote in Banggai.

Forum chairman Basri Sono, a former deputy regent, said the forum found "strong evidence" of attempts at vote buying by Golkar and local officials. The chairman of the provincial chapter of Golkar, Djar'un Sibay, denied the charges. Golkar was leading as of Saturday, followed by PDI Perjuangan and the United Development Party (PPP).

In South Sulawesi the Forum on Women's Issues noted various violations committed by different political parties, such as campaigning during the cooling-off period and money politics.

In a statement signed by Zohra Andi Baso, the organization supported the growing demand to repeat polls in South Sulawesi due to rampant allegations of vote-rigging.

In Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, the chairman of the provincial elections committee, Chris Boro Tokan, said on Sunday the polls could be repeated here if discrepancies found in tallying could not be resolved. However, the polls could not be repeated if they was held past the June 17 deadline when provinces are scheduled to announce their final results to the General Elections Commission.

Earlier, the chapter of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) protested the results, charging instances of vote-rigging. Boro Tokan told Antara he had received complaints from several parties about mistakes in the counting process and intimidation against election officials.

However, he said as long as the official supervisory committee and independent monitoring bodies did not report any indications of cheating the provincial committee could not decide to repeat the polls.

Apart from indications of vote-rigging, the PDI Perjuangan provincial chapter also reported the intervention of officials in the voting process and acts of intimidation toward people to vote for the Golkar Party.

"In the Teluk Mutiara district in Alor regency the number of votes are more than the number of voters," the party's chairman, Anton E. Haba said.

From Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, the University Network for Free and Fair Elections (Unfrel) said a volunteer found a village official had threatened to cut power and water supplies if people did not vote for a certain party.

Spokesman Iwan Rompo said the incident was uncovered in the Wangi-Wangi district in Buton regency where some 25,000 refugees who fled the Maluku violence cast their ballots.

In the same district in the Kapota village Unfrel also found that an elections committee pierced leftover unpierced ballot papers before placing them in ballot boxes.

On Saturday in Malang, East Java, the official supervisory election committee reported that two Unfrel volunteers tore up 123 ballot papers. The incident took place in Banbang village in Wajak district, Antara reported. However, the Malang elections committee said they were spoiled ballot papers not used in the polls, and that the case had been reported to police.

IMF key to Indonesia policy, whoever wins

Reuters - June 15, 1999

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta -- Indonesia's next government has yet to emerge from the murk of drawn-out vote counting and political horsetrading, but one crucial member of its economic policy- making team is already known -- the IMF.

The International Monetary Fund holds the purse strings for the foreign money Indonesia desperately needs. It has already co- ordinated a bail-out package of more than $45 billion. And it has all the power it needs to block policies it disapproves of.

The election front-runner, the Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P) of opposition figurehead Megawati Sukarnoputri, has already spooked markets by proposing a fixed exchange rate.

But PDI-P chief economic adviser Kwik Kian Gie has said a fixed rate would only be introduced if the IMF agreed. Analysts say the chances of this are practically zero.

"If the IMF were to agree to this they would lose all their credibility in the handling of the Indonesian crisis," said the head of treasury at a foreign bank in Jakarta. "There is no way that the IMF would allow it."

Kwik has made clear the PDI-P would not take a stand against the IMF. "A fixed rate is not everything for us," he told Reuters in an interview in Singapore. "The whole package is very important. There is no way we will break up with the IMF."

The IMF also plays down the prospect of a confrontation. "There will be no showdown," said Kadhim Al-Eyd, senior representative of the IMF in Jakarta. "The PDI-P have said some aspects of the programme may need to be changed and we agree with that. But everything will be discussed. This issue has been blown up out of proportion."

Kwik argues that temporarily fixing the rupiah at 5,000 to the dollar would help debt-ridden firms pay off their liabilities and cut the price of imported inputs, allowing prices of manufactured goods to fall and consumption to rise. He says when stability returned, the currency could be floated again.

Another senior PDI-P economic adviser, Laksamana Sukardi, said a fixed rate would only work under conditions which were currently impossible to meet, such as large currency reserves.

The argument for a fixed rate commands some support, particularly among Indonesian economists who say the rupiah's collapse over the last two years had little to do with fundamentals and may have to be reversed by artificial methods. Analysts agree that a firmer rupiah would make it easier to break Indonesia's corporate debt deadlock.

But many remain deeply sceptical about fixing the rate. "A fixed exchange rate would only cause any remaining capital in Indonesia to get out," the head of treasury said.

"If they are going to try an export-driven recovery they should not be trying to lift the rupiah. Many of Indonesia's exports have little value-addition so they are competing purely on price. Exchange controls would have an impact on export-driven recovery, which is the direction they ought to be taking."

The IMF has consistently stood against any form of capital controls for Indonesia. Former president Suharto came under fire last year from the IMF and US government when he flirted with the idea of a currency board system to halt the rupiah's slide. The plan was never adopted. When rumours of imminent capital controls resurfaced later in 1998, the IMF was quick to quash them.

Kwik has acknowledged that Indonesia has no choice but to keep the IMF on board. "Why should we have to deal with the IMF? Because if not, we will not have the funds to restart the economic wheel moving again," he wrote in the Kompas daily this week.

Whatever the merits of a fixed exchange rate, this reliance on the IMF means it will never see the light of day. "Given the country's weak economic position and its dearth of foreign exchange reserves, defending a fixed exchange rate would provide a serious policy challenge to the new government," Warburg Dillion Read said in a research report.

"[But] given Indonesia's urgent need for large inflows of foreign capital for the foreseeable future ... we believe the next government is likely to have little alternative to pursuing responsible, investor-friendly economic policies."

Election results point to dead heat

Business Times (Singapore) - June 17, 1999

Shoeb Kagda, Jakarta -- Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) and the ruling Golkar will be locked in a dead heat in terms of seats won by them and their likely coalition partners, a BT projection of the final seat tallies in the just-concluded Indonesian elections shows.

While the PDI-P has surged ahead in the vote count with 50 per cent of the ballots tallied, the picture is different when these votes are translated into actual seats in the 500-seat Parliament.

This is because Indonesia's outlying provinces, where Golkar's more established party machinery has proved decisive, carry a rich vein of parliamentary seats. So, while Golkar has performed badly in the populous urban centres, this has proved less damaging for seat allocations.

BT's projections show that PDI-P will finish with 154 seats. Its likely coalition partner, the National Awakening Party (PKB), could finish with 52 seats bringing its total to 206 seats in the 500-seat Parliament.

BT's projections put Golkar finishing with 117 seats. Its likely coalition partners -- the National Development Party (PPP), the Justice Party and the Partai Bulan Bintang -- could end up with 58 seats, 6 seats and 12 seats respectively. That puts the Golakr faction strength at 193 seats.

Analysts said the king makers in the equation could be Amien Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN) which is projected to secure 42 seats and the armed forces which has been allocated 38 seats in Parliament under the country's constitution.

The final seat tallies are important because it is Parliament, together with regional representatives and civic groups, which will decide the bigger prize -- who will govern Indonesia in November's presidential elections.

Only 462 members in the House of Representatives (DPR), the national Parliament, are elected because 38 seats are reserved for members of the armed forces.

These 500 members then join another 200 members selected from the provincial parliaments and various civic organisations in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) to elect the president.

According to political pundits, as the counts from the provinces stream in, Golkar could secure a substantially higher number of seats than earlier anticipated.

Under the country's electoral system, each of the 27 provinces is given a certain quota of votes needed to secure one seat in the House of Representatives (DPR). This quota is arrived at by dividing the number of valid votes with the total number of seats on offer.

The quota, according to Andi Mallarengeng, a member of the National Elections Commission (KPU), varies from province to province but generally, provinces with higher population densities would have higher quotas.

For example, a party would have to win 320,000 votes in East Java to secure one seat from the province but in distant Irian Jaya, just 77,000 votes secures a seat. "So one million votes in East Java would get you only two seats but in Irian Jaya, it gives you 10 seats," said Dr Mallarengeng.

While the PDI-P has done well in the four provinces in Java in terms of percentage of votes secured, the party has not picked up a large number of the seats. Golkar, on the other hand, has done well in the outer provinces and has picked a substantially larger percentage of the seats.

Umar Juoro, a senior presidential adviser, reckons that Golkar can win the majority of the seats in 11 to 14 provinces while the PDI-P will be able to take only eight to 10 provinces.

The final count will, therefore, likely pitch the two parties in a headlong battle with neither having the number of seats required to get its presidential candidate elected on its own.

This would mean that each party will have to woo possible coalition partners to gain the upper hand.

"For now it is still very unclear who will win and by how much, but I am sure the fight for the presidency will be between [President B.J.] Habibie and Megawati," Mr Juoro told BT.

"Habibie enjoys strong support in eastern Indonesia while the other Golkar candidates such as Akbar Tanjung and Marzuki Darusman only have limited support in Java and Sumatra."

He added that while the PDI-P will win a higher number of seats, its margin over Golkar will only be between 20 and 50 seats. "If the margin is more than 50 seats, a PDI-P coalition will have the chance to win but if it is less, I think a Golkar-led coalition stands a better chance."

Ms Megawati, he noted, faces an additional hurdle of convincing members of her party's most likely coalition partner, the Muslim-based National Awakening Party (PKB), that a woman can rule Indonesia. Recently, leaders of a number of Islamic-linked parties including the National Development Party (PPP) have said that they will only support a male Muslim for the presidency.

"I don't think PKB can resolve the woman issue and this will create complications regarding the presidential elections," said Mr Juoro. "But changing candidates will not be easy for either Golkar or PDI-P given that their supporters voted for them because of their presidential candidates."

President Habibie, he noted, remained optimistic that he would prevail as he expects to carry the Muslim ground given that a lot of Muslim leaders are getting nervous of being sidelined should the PDI-P, with its heavy Christian emphasis, were to succeed.

Given the fact that the race will be very close, two factions within the DPR could provide the swing votes, said Muhammad Hikam, researcher at the Centre for Economics and Development Studies. The National Mandate Party (PAN) led by Amien Rais and the 38 members of the armed forces could prove decisive in electing the country's next president. "It will be very close and the military will be important as it has to decide whether to support the pro-reform coalition or the Golkar-led coalition. Until now, the military leadership is still unsure."

Dr Rais, speaking at a press conference yesterday, said that while his party was effectively out of the presidential race, it would act responsibly if it came down to deciding between the two major coalition blocks.

"There is no such thing as two groups being exactly the same; one must be better and we will play our card to support the better group when the time comes."

While he has recently met Dr Habibie, Mr Tanjung and armed forces chief General Wiranto, Dr Rais said no deals had been struck. He viewed the possibility of forming a coalition with Golkar as being "almost nil".

On the issue of a woman being the next president, the Muslim leader noted that Islam did not make any distinctions between gender and that both man and woman are equal "in the eyes of God".

Anti-Megawati criticism rises

Associated Presse - June 15, 1999

Jakarta -- An influential Muslim group warned Tuesday that overwhelmingly Islamic Indonesia risks falling under the control of non-Muslims in the wake of its first democratic election in 44 years.

Achmad Tirtosudiro, chairman of the influential Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association, said at a news conference that the candidacy list of the leading Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle is undesirable because it is dominated by members of the Christian minority.

With 55% of the votes tabulated from the June 7 parliamentary election, the party of Megawati Sukarnoputri, herself a Muslim, has a commanding lead over 47 other groups. But it is considered unlikely to win a majority, making a coalition likely.

"Legally, we have to recognize victory by any party. But it will be very dangerous if it does not heed the aspirations of Muslims. We are certain about this," said Tirtosudiro, who took over the chairmanship from President B.J. Habibie last year. "I cannot imagine that Christians will have a say over Muslims, particularly in the process of making and endorsing laws in Parliament."

Some prominent Muslims have criticized Megawati's party for running so many non-Muslims and having Megawati, daughter of Indonesia's founding president Sukarno, as its presidential candidate. They say the country won't accept a female head of state.

"Like it or not, there are people who have no problem with a woman being a president, but there are those who cannot accept that," Tirtosudiro said.

He said it is far from certain that Megawati will become head of state, stressing that the presidency will be determined by a special assembly of the 500 members of Parliament, including 38 military appointees, and 200 government appointees.

Sri Bintang Pamungas, a minor official in the Indonesian United Democratic Party, also suggested that Megawati's party could run into trouble for having so many non-Muslim candidates. "Of course, she has a chance to be president, but there will be a kind of war before she becomes a winner," he said.

Megawati's party has been closemouthed about possible coalition partners. "I cannot give you the answers until we see the final outcome of the election," Laksamana Sukardi, a senior adviser to Megawati, said Tuesday. "We are open to making a coalition with any partners that are reformist, untainted."

Military will vote in presidential polls

Agence France Presse - June 15, 1999

Jakarta -- Indonesian military MPs will vote in presidential elections slated for November despite calls for them to abstain, armed forces chief General Wiranto was Tuesday quoted as saying.

"The calls for [the military's] neutrality in the presidential elections are against democracy," Wiranto said, quoted by the Jakarta Post. "The military as a part of the nation is responsible for the country's future."

Wiranto was commenting on calls by reformists for the military, who do not vote in general elections but are allotted 38 seats or 7.6 percent of the house's 500 seats, to abstain from the vote.

Under the Indonesian constitution, the president is selected by the 700-member People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the country's highest body which includes the 500 members of parliament.

Although partial results of the June 7 parliamentary polls show the opposition Indonesian Democracy Party-Struggle (PDIP) of Megawati Sukarnoputri is a clear front-runner, the balance of power in the MPR remains in doubt.

Regional and functional representatives, who will be chosen to make up the other 200 seats, along with the ruling Golkar Party and any of its allies as well as the military could tip the presidential vote away from the PDIP, analysts said.

The military has so far remained silent on whether it would follow or break with its 32-year Suharto-era tradition of backing Golkar, and Wiranto Monday left the question open, saying it would back the "best" candidate.

Muslim block on Megawati

The Australian - June 15, 1999

Patrick Walters, Jakarta -- Abdurrahman Wahid, the leader of Indonesia's biggest Muslim organisation, predicted yesterday that Megawati Sukarnoputri would face an uphill battle to be Indonesia's next president.

As the major political parties begin weeks of hard bargaining over Indonesia's next government, Mr Wahid -- himself a candidate for the presidency -- said Ms Megawati faced significant opposition from Muslim groups, including members of his own National Awakening Party (PKB).

In vote counting yesterday, the official tally and unofficial counting continued to give Ms Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) a strong lead over the ruling Golkar party.

Figures supplied by the Antara news agency showed, with almost 65 per cent of the vote counted, PDI-P had polled 25.3 million votes (33.5 per cent of the national vote) compared with 16.2 million votes for Golkar (21.5 per cent) and 10.9 million votes for PKB (14.5 per cent).

"If you don't elect Megawati you will have riots. If you do elect Megawati you face the same problem," Mr Wahid told The Australian.

He said Ms Megawati's candidacy would be opposed by some Muslim groups, who were firmly opposed to a woman becoming president. Also, her leadership credentials were untested.

There were problems with alternative candidates, including incumbent President B.J. Habibie, Amien Rais and armed forces commander General Wiranto, he said.

"If nobody else is acceptable then I will consider it. Habibie has no political astuteness. He thinks that people can be bought. The armed forces also have problems."

According to Mr Wahid, another frequently mentioned candidate -- the Sultan of Yogyakarta -- was "too limited and too parochial".

Senior National Mandate Party (PAN) officials yesterday said party leader Amien Rais had ruled out any coalition with either Golkar of PDI-P.

The election result was a major disappointment for Dr Rais, with PAN winning only about 7 per cent of the national vote, giving it about 45-50 seats in the 500-seat parliament.

Golkar officials yesterday predicted PDI-P would win 180 seats compared with between 102 and 109 for Golkar. It predicted its final share of the total votes would climb to about 25 to 29 per cent compared with about 32 or 33 per cent for PDI-P.

Golkar would continue to explore the possibility of building a multi-party coalition, with officials saying approaches would also be made to Ms Megawati.

Golkar sources also confirmed yesterday the party's central board would seek to reopen the question of Dr Habibie's presidential nomination.

UNFREL members terrorized

Indonesian Observer - June 14, 1999

Jakarta -- A shadowy group has been threatening independent election monitors in Southeast Sulawesi, as more information emerges from there of the ruling Golkar Party having used money and intimidation to win support.

Members of Universities for a Free and Fair Election (UNFREL) in Muna district have received anonymous late-night phone calls from people ordering them to declare that the June 7 general election was conducted transparently without any incidents of fraud.

"The offenders admit they are representing certain public figures and others in the district of Muna. They want us to announce the election was free and fair in Muna," La Amini, coordinator of the local UNFREL chapter, said on Saturday in the provincial capital of Kendari.

At least 21 parties in Muna have rejected the results of vote counting in Muna, claiming some local officials have sided with Golkar and cheated.

Amini said the election in Muna was chock full of fraud, so UNFREL certainly won't be declaring it to have been free and fair.

"UNFREL will maintain its stance as an independent election watchdog. We won't influenced by any other political interests," he said.

He then gave a few examples of election fraud. He said many village chiefs in Lawa subdistrict intimidated impoverished villagers who had recently received development aid.

Despite the fact that most of the aid came from abroad, the village heads ordered all those who had received to vote for Golkar. Entire neighborhoods in the area were instructed to vote for Golkar as a form of barter for the aid.

"In another case, a village chief in Kusambi subdistrict conducted a dawn attack at 6 on the morning of the election by giving money to some families. They were asked to vote for Golkar," Amini said. However, he admitted a few reports of fraud have been exaggerated.

Head of public relations at UNFREL, Iwan Rompo, said that in the district of Napanbalano, many ballot cards had already been used to vote for a certain party before they were handed to voters. He did not name the party.

An overwhelming vote against Golkar

World Socialist Web Site - June 12, 1999

Peter Symonds -- As of Friday morning, official figures in the counting of votes for the Indonesian elections showed a clear vote against the ruling Golkar Party and in favour of opposition parties headed by Megawati Sukarnoputri, Abdurrahman Wahid and Amien Rais, which are part of a loose alliance.

Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) headed the list with 38.5 percent of the vote, followed by Wahid's National Awakening Party (PKB) with 20 percent. Golkar had secured only 16 percent of the vote, the United Development Party (PPP) 9.2 percent and Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN) 6.5 percent. These results were based on 12 percent of the total vote.

Unofficial tallies show Golkar edging into second position as votes are counted in more conservative rural areas and in the outlying islands and provinces. Golkar claims to have 27 percent in its own count and, according to party chief Akbar Tanjung, it would end up with 30 percent.

Whatever the final outcome, the elections have been a rejection of Golkar and its military-backed regime headed by President B.J. Habibie. In the last elections in 1997 organised under Suharto, Golkar used its control of the state apparatus to ensure that it achieved its stated target of more than 70 percent of the vote. Only two opposition parties -- the PPP and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) -- were permitted to stand and all candidates, speeches and campaigns were vetted by the state apparatus and the intelligence agencies.

In these elections most people cast their ballots for anti-Golkar parties. Even the PPP was compelled to try to distance itself from its legacy of abject subservience under the Suharto regime as the official Islamic party. It declared itself in favour of "reformasi" and pledged to oppose the selection of Golkar's candidate Habibie as the next president.

Even before the process is completed, the elections have been heralded by international observers, the media and foreign leaders as "fair" and "democratic". Australian Prime Minister John Howard claimed that the poll was "a real celebration of democracy, and New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon said the elections were "free, fair and peaceful". Former US president Jimmy Carter, who led a team of foreign observers during the poll, declared that democracy had come to Indonesia.

Local poll monitors have expressed their concern at such uncritical proclamations. Referring to Carter's statements, the University Rectors Network for a Fair Election (UNFREL) said it was too early for foreign observers to be breaking out the champagne. "We regret the statement made by Carter straight after he looked at a few polling stations in Jakarta. He shouldn't have said that because the votes are not all counted yet," UNFREL co- ordinator Todung Mulya Lubis said.

"UNFREL monitored 2,590 villages in 620 regencies, and discovered that violations occurred in 21 percent of those villages. Intimidation occurred in 7 percent of those villages; indelible ink was not actually indelible in 8 percent; and fake ballots were used in 18 percent," Lubis said. (Indelible ink was used to mark the fingers of those who had voted in order to ensure against multiple voting.)

An estimated 112 million or 96 percent of eligible voters went to the polls on June 7. But the counting and tallying of votes by the National Election Commission (KPU) is proceeding at a snail's pace and is itself becoming a political issue as political leaders and observers warn of the possibility of vote rigging.

According to an article on Friday in the Kompas newspaper: "Reports from the Independent Monitoring Committee of the Election (KIPP) of Jakarta indicate that many vote countings changed in numbers on their way from the polling stations to the district committees and up to the provincial government."

The precarious character of the political situation was underscored when Abdurrahman Wahid warned that he would move to establish an emergency government if there was evidence of electoral interference. "I will take action to set up an emergency government if the KPU is being intervened by outside forces. I have reported this to armed forces commander Wiranto and Megawati," he said.

On Tuesday, the day after the elections, the Jakarta Stock Exchange reacted positively to the immediate apparent success of the poll by shooting up 12 percent in value. Similarly the Indonesian rupiah which last year collapsed to less than 20 percent of its value, rose against the US dollar by 6 percent. But the initial response by international finance capital quickly evaporated with share values falling by 3 percent on Thursday after a decline of 1.2 percent on Wednesday.

All of the major parties have pledged to implement the IMF austerity measures drawn up last year in return for a $US43 billion bailout. But sections of the ruling class both in Indonesia and internationally clearly favour a government headed by opposition leader Megawati in order push through the drastic restructuring measures required and to suppress unrest over declining living standards. The credit ratings agency Standard & Poors recently estimated that the cost of repairing Indonesia's debt burdened banking system to be $87 billion or 82 percent of the country's GDP.

A comment by foreign editor Greg Sheridan in Rupert Murdoch's the Australian newspaper warned: "The greatest danger now is that President B.J. Habibie and the ruling Golkar Party will try to steal the election from Megawati Sukarnoputri and her PDI- Struggle party". Any attempt by Habibie to manipulate the vote in the Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR), due to choose the president and vice-president in November, would result in protests and social unrest. "Habibie should recognise that he has lost this election and leave office voluntarily, the sooner the better, to save Indonesia needless months of instability and possible violence," Sheridan wrote.

Having praised the election as an "enormous achievement," Sheridan unwittingly pointed to the highly undemocratic nature of the entire process. The next government will be formed by a president chosen by an MPR with 700 seats -- only 462 are elected, the rest are military, state and provincial appointees. To achieve an absolute majority in the MPR, a party would have to win 76 percent of the elected seats -- a near impossibility.

There will undoubtedly be a frenzied round of closed-door discussions in coming months, as parties, the military and the state apparatus wheel and deal to obtain a majority in the MPR. Already commentators are pointing to the possibility that Golkar, although rejected by the majority of voters, will use its entrenched position in the military and state bureaucracy, as well as bribes of various sorts, to woo newly elected parliamentarians to vote for its presidential candidate and cling onto power.

Megawati cannot even count on her allies -- Rais and Wahid -- with any degree of certainty. Both of them, like Megawati herself, had close ties under Suharto with different sections of the military and state apparatus. Wahid is notorious as a political manoeuvrer -- at the last elections held under Suharto in 1997 he backed away from his previous alliance with Megawati to offer his support to one of Suharto's daughters. Rais was a key figure in the Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) established in 1990 by Habibie at the behest of Suharto to widen the regime's base of support. Megawati has been cultivating her own close relations with sections of the military to secure their support for the November vote.

Most people have voted for the so-called reformers in the expectation that a government will be formed to extend democratic rights and improve living standards. But the outcome will be a government beholden to sections of the military, big business and the state bureaucracy. It will implement the demands of the IMF, leading to a further deterioration in the country's high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Observations on the elections

Joyo - June 14, 1999

[The following is a report written exclusively for Joyo Indonesian News by a prominent Indonesia specialist who prefers to remain anonymous.]

Jakarta -- With each passing day, Golkar finds itself increasingly on the defensive about how it conducted itself during the election. A persistent flow of protests and allegations pour in from around the archipelago. It is now apparent to everyone that Golkar engaged in widespread cheating. Several areas are already demanding a recount of votes (particularly Jakarta), while the entire province of North Sulawesi decided in a tense meeting over the weekend to hold the entire election again thanks to Golkar's violations. It is unlikely that the entire election will be disqualified and redone, however, because PDI Perjuangan has done too well to be interested in starting again from scratch.

The slow vote count at first caused alarm that Golkar was manipulating the tally. In several areas this alarm has proved justified. But a slightly different conclusion is taking root as only a third of the vote has been tallied after a full week of counting. In past elections, including the one held in 1997 that produced the current government, the ruling Golkar party and the state apparatus it controlled would routinely announce between 50 and 75 percent of the vote count on the very same evening that the polls closed. The time that it actually takes to count the votes across Indonesia when the process is much more fair (and despite the installation of millions of dollars of computer and communications equipment by foreign governments) has cast Golkar's past cheating and manipulations in a particularly harsh light. The scale of the party's past election rigging is vastly more staggering than most had imagined.

This includes the elections that produced the current DPR/MPR and Habibie administration. In short, the current pace of the counting compared with the lightning pace in the past has deepened the view that the Habibie-Golkar government is not just lacking in support and legitimacy (based on performance), but is also simply unconstitutional on the grounds of massive electoral fraud. How can a party that engaged in such a pattern of electoral fraud in the past possibly put itself forward as a credible or even legal candidate to lead the country in the future?

No matter how the coalition politics unfolds, the chances that Golkar will engineer a winning position are now slim to zero. PDI Perjuangan has won a wide plurality of popular support, beating every other contender by a factor of nearly two to one. Not only would it be exceedingly difficult to produce a block of votes large enough to prevent a Megawati government from prevailing in the MPR, but it will be exceedingly risky to attempt it given that PDI-P's supporters across the country are keeping a vigil on the entire process.

Denying victory to Megawati and the PDI-P will surely provoke social unrest. It is worth recalling that her supporters are the most emotionally committed of all groups in the country and her cadres are strongly based in the cities, both on and off Java. That's where the unrest will be organized and felt if Golkar tries foolishly to push the issue of remaining in power. Megawati has shown herself quite capable of controlling her millions of supporters when they're excited and happy. But she herself does not believe she could restrain them if they are cheated of the outcome they now believe deeply they have won even despite Golkar's relentless manipulations. Any outcome that denies the PDI-P victory is playing with fire. By now even ABRI's generals must have figured this out.

Actual coalition politics is unfolding slowly among the major contenders (thanks in part to the absence in the early days of any clear trends in polling results). One obvious problem is that it is taking time for the the notion to take root among top opposition players that political coalitions are not based on personal trust and friendship but rather on mutual political benefit. If everyone were buddy-buddy from the start, there would be no need for coalitions. Genuine political alliances must be formed from interests not from friendships. Thus the suspicions surrounding Amien Rais will have to be dispensed with. Talks to get to that point are already underway. Meantime, Golkar people and others in the PPP are working hard to subvert PAN's and Amien Rais's chances of joining with PDI and PKB by claiming he's meeting covertly with PPP and Golkar. At this point, it would be political suicide for Amien to join with Golkar (even Golkar minus Habibie). His stated policies (easily the most excellent, principled positions taken in the 1999 campaign) are utterly incompatible with a Golkar gambit. In the highly unlikely event that Amien does end up siding with Golkar, people will rightly conclude that he put his personal ambitions ahead of his admirable principled politics. In short, he'll go down in the history books as an opportunist and a hypocrite. The chances he'll make this political blunder are remote (and my conversations with people in his inner circle confirm this).

Meantime, the Habibie administration continues to implode. The Ghalib saga is too rich even for the best fiction writer. Habibie misses every chance handed to him to convince the people he's not just a New Order left-over. Late last week, as the pressures on the attorney general mounted, Habibie could only muster enough nerve to order an audit of Ghalib's accounts. Why the devastating information of account transfers was not enough to conclude that the attorney was not merely a discredited figure but a criminal defies even the most twisted logic. And this is a man who is supposed to be investing Suharto's wealth abroad. The Habibie government has long since stopped being a source of daily entertainment. The level of disgust felt by the average Indonesian is palpable. The prospects for a Golkar government in a climate like this, even without Habibie, are low indeed.

Things to watch for:

  1. A strengthening of the PDI-P/PKB/PAN alliance. It will take time, but it appears very much in the cards.
  2. The possibility that ABRI will side with the winning coalition instead of with Golkar. The Armed Forces desperately need to repair their own profile. If they hang on until the end with Golkar and the whole cast of criminals and jokers they represent, they risk dragging themselves down even faster than they have already been sinking in the wake of the student and Banyuwangi killings, rapes, kidnappings, mass murders in Aceh and East Timor, and other crimes they have accumulated.
  3. An acceleration of the timetable for the MPR meeting. August 17th (Independence Day) is a real possibility.

Dump Habibie moves grow as losses mount

Straits Times - June 12, 1999

Susan Sim, Jakarta -- The Indonesian government yesterday woke up to a confidential internal report which showed the ruling Golkar in for a crushing defeat as the Megawati Sukarnoputri-Abdurrahman Wahid juggernaut grabbed half of the 41 million ballots counted.

The sense of impending defeat was also giving momentum to Golkar reformists eager to dump presidential candidate B.J. Habibie as major opposition parties began serious talks on power-sharing arrangements in the next government.

Reformist elements in the four leading parties -- including Golkar -- have already met for talks on building a "core group of reformists".

This is to pre-empt any attempt by Habibie loyalists to entice their conservative wings away while Ms Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Perjuangan (Struggle), or PDI-P, for short, and Mr Abdurrahman's Nation Awakening Party (PKB) are attempting to come to agreement on the shape of the next Cabinet.

The PDI-P has also begun identifying Golkar ministers, namely the economic technocrats, it might invite to join its government, various sources told The Straits Times.

A government count of 40,526,618 ballots, or 35.37 per cent of the total of 114,585,465 ballots cast on Monday, showed the PDI-P clearly in command with 13,946,021 votes, or 34.4 per cent.

The confidential report, tabulated by civil servants at polling stations throughout the country as at 5.30am yesterday, gave Golkar only 8,783,618 votes, or 21.67 per cent. Next came PKB, with 6,259,378, or 15.45 per cent.

By late afternoon, a senior government official familiar with the regional party strengths vis-a-vis the electoral structure was predicting a 40 per cent share of the 462 parliamentary seats at stake for the PDI-P. Its ally and likely coalition partner, PKB, would probably get 12 per cent of the seats.

Golkar would end up with 20 per cent, Dr Amien Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN) 6 per cent to 7 per cent, and the remaining seats would be split among the Islamic parties, he added.

Although Habibie loyalists remain hopeful of forming a coalition with PAN and others -- an idea floated yesterday in the Republika newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals which Dr Habibie used to chair -- Golkar insiders say the non-Habibie movement was growing stronger.

"At the end of the day, most people are opportunists," said a source. "Not all of them are anti-Habibie, but when they see that he is a hopeless case, the floating group will abandon him and look for opportunities elsewhere. PDI-P could probably accommodate some Golkar people not close to Habibie."

PDI-P sources said discussions included talks on co-opting ministers like Finance Minister Bambang Subianto and National Development Planning Council chief Boediono to "give an element of continuity".

But PKB secretary-general Muhaimin Iskander said his party might be uncomfortable with those who left Golkar only because they had no choice, apart from going into opposition.

The PKB was eyeing the Justice, Education, Energy and State Secretary portfolios in a PDI-P-led government, he said, adding: "If PDI-P wins, there will be no choice for president but Ms Megawati. But we hope the vice-president will come from PKB."

Yet, Ms Megawati is not assured of the presidency come November. Apart from the opposition she would face from the small but militant radical Islamic groups, infighting within the PDI-P on whether she should wield real executive power could lead to open splits.

Said an insider: "But at the end of the day, they should realise that Megawati is a risky choice and they will all have to agree on a compromise who is not Habibie or Megawati."
Aceh/West Papua

Thousands of evacuees returning home

Waspada - June 16, 1999

Thousands of evacuees across Aceh started returning home Tuesday to their villages even though there is no guarantee of their safety. It appears that the evacuees decided to go home after realising that their circumstances in the camps were no better - in their villages they are afraid of the army and in places to which they have fled they are threatened with disease and hunger.

From Sigli it is reported that no fewer that 20,000 from 33 villages in the sub-district of Bandar Dua, Pidie have now returned to their homes.

On Monday evening, evacuees from four villages in the sub- district of Ulee Glee have all returned home, according to coordinator Rusli Ibrahim, excepting for about one thousand, who are likely to return home today, he said,

Villagers who fled from Lamno, sub-district Jaya in West Aceh three days ago have also started going back home. They had fled their villages following the Gunung Geurute incident when two members of the army were killed.

But in Peudada, North Aceh, and Alue Nireh, East Aceh, the evacuees are staying where they are. Local activists say that although many people are returning home, they are not yet sure whether the overall number of evacuees is declining.

Those who have decided to return home have come to the conclusion that it is better at home. Staying at the camps where they have fled gives them no certainly that they will be safe, but if they return home, they hope that conditions there will improve and they will be able to resume their normal lives.

Gunmen kill two soldiers and wound six

Agence France Presse - June 11, 1999

Jakarta -- Two Indonesian soldiers were killed and six injured when they were attacked by 10 armed men in the troubled province of Aceh Friday, the state news agency Antara said.

The troops were killed in a 45-minute shoot-out when they were ambushed as they returned to the provincial capital Banda Aceh after guarding a delayed general election vote in Lamno, district military commander Colonel Syariffudin Tippe said.

Earlier police told AFP by telephone from Banda Aceh that six soldiers had been wounded. They were taken to hospitals nearby. Earlier in the week, four policemen were killed earlier in north Aceh.

The province is home to the Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh) movement, which has been fighting for an Islamic state since the mid 1970s and is said by the military to have threatened voters and officials in this week's poll.

Separatists and their sympathizers called for a boycott of Monday's election, demanding a referendum on the province's future instead.

On election day, polling stations in three districts either remained closed or failed to attract any voters. Efforts to hold a new vote on Tuesday and Wednesday also failed.

On Friday the national election commission approved a proposal to again try to hold a vote in Pidie, North Aceh and East Aceh, an election official told AFP by telephone. He added the date was yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, military spokesman Major General Syamsul Maarif said Friday that a member of Aceh Merdeka (GAM) masquerading as a soldier had been arrested for spying on police in north Aceh.

Irwan bin Baharuddin Noor, 26, had first told Lhokseumawe police he was a member of the elite military Kopassus force, which have fought the province's separatists for a decade.

"After further investigations he finally admitted that he was actually a GAM sympathizer," Maarif told a press conference here. Noor also admitted to being paid by GAM leader Ismail Syahputra to encourage a boycott of the elections and to mar the military's image.

"The military has pulled out all Kopassus from Aceh ... but this whole incident shows that the people of Aceh want to believe that Kopassus is still there despite what has been reported," Maarif said.

The military planned to keep the Mass Riot Control Troops (PPRM) deployed in Aceh since May until the planned General Assembly scheduled for November, he added.

At least 60 people, including 41 civilians shot by police in Lhokseumawe on May 3, have been killed in Aceh since early May.

Resentment against the military and government has escalated following alleged widespread human rights abuses by soldiers during a decade of military operations which ended last year.

Five shot dead including children

Agence France Presse - June 13, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta -- Indonesian troops shot dead five civilians, including two children, in the troubled province of Aceh, reports said here Sunday.

The soldiers opened fire after a loud bang was heard as a convoy of trucks carrying members of the Mass Riot Control Force passed Peureulak in East Aceh district on Saturday, the RCTI television said.

RCTI reporters said the bang was caused by an exploding tyre but the troops opened fire thinking they had been attacked. Two children were killed by bullets in their homes while three adults were also killed nearby.

The SCTV private television, however, quoted local military authorities as saying the tyre was shot out by rebels hiding by the side of the road. None of the alleged rebels were found or shot, it added.
Labour issues

NGO activists arrested with workers

Jakarta Post - June 17, 1999

Jakarta -- City police apprehended over 500 people, most of whom claimed to be workers of the publicly listed candy and biscuit producer PT Mayora Indah, along with at least four NGO activists during a protest early Wednesday morning. Staged in front of the Capital Market Supervisory Agency (Bapepam) office in Central Jakarta, the activists were forced into police trucks. They were charged for having disturbed public order and for staging a protest without prior notification to police, as required by law.

The four NGO activists detained after the 1am protest were from the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC), and included its coordinator, Wardah Hafidz.

According to UPC lawyer Sri Wiyani, police have accused Wardah of agitating the protesters, an offense for which she could be charged with violating Article 160 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment.

"She's already been questioned as a suspect," Sri said, providing no details on the other UPC activists.

After propelling the protesters into the trucks, the police quickly drove the vehicles to their headquarters on Jl. Sudirman in South Jakarta.

The protesters, who have staged a series of rallies since April demanding the company hire them again, were then identified by police officers.

At noon, the police supplied them with lunch. Most of the 532 people who admitted being Mayora workers were allowed to go home in the evening.

Dozens of others decided to stay behind, saying they had to support Wardah, who was still being questioned late into the evening.

One of the protesters, Purnomo, said many of the protesting employees were unaware of Wardah's presence at the rally. "I myself had no idea that Mbak [sister] Wardah was there. So how could I know if she was provoking us," he said.

Gondo, coordinator of the protest, said the rally aimed to challenge Bapepam senior officials to revoke Mayora's go-public status.

"We urged Bapepam to also include terms of protection of human rights as a condition for a company to obtain and to maintain its go-public status," he said.

The UPC lawyer said at first Wardah was insistent on her right not to answer questions from the officers without the presence of her lawyer. Sri said Wardah only began answering questions 10 hours later, after the arrival of her lawyer.

City police chief Maj. Gen. Noegroho Djajoesman said Wardah was arrested for questioning as "a witness" only. "We'll see the result of the interrogation later, whether she'll be named as a suspect or witness in the case," Noegroho said.

According to the preliminary police version, Wardah was apprehended after ordering the workers to stay united and refuse a police order to disperse.

"When our officers tried to disperse the protesters, Wardah told the workers to stay put. It's already a form of provoking people against officers," said Major Soenaryo, who was in charge of the removal of the workers.

Soenaryo said the protesters had disturbed the public order, and alleged they had overstepped the line, because they were yelling and sitting in front of the government office. He said some of them even took to the street, ignoring other people's needs.

Lawyer Sri argued: "Wardah was there only to show her concern for the workers' fate."

Another lawyer acting for Wardah, Johnson Panjaitan from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association, said the workers' drawn-out protest was mainly due to the reluctance of the company to impose a Minister of Manpower order. The ruling asked the firm to reemploy its 1,367 fired workers by June 15 at the latest.

He also said the ministry appeared to be "unable to take stern measures against PT Mayora". The minister's order also urged the company to pay the workers a full salary, backdated to the beginning of May.

Panjaitan said the company had not paid the workers since the latter held protests beginning in April.

At a protest organized by workers on June 9, hundreds rallied in front of Mayora's office headquarters.

In the protest, the workers from several Mayora factories in and around Jakarta blocked off the headquarters' entrance doors, and prevented colleagues, who did not join the rally, to go about their work.

Labour gears for tough stance after election

Far Eastern Economic Review - June 17, 1999

Margot Cohen in Medan, North Sumatra and Tangerang -- Nearly four dozen soldiers patrol the 142 factories inside the Medan Industrial Park, on guard against any election-related violence. But that's not enough to soothe the nerves of the park's director, Papo Hermawan. He's more worried about the militant mood swelling behind the factories' high concrete walls, still dotted with campaign stickers.

"Workers are becoming more bold because of reformasi," says Papo, who has watched nine strikes erupt this year in the park, a collection of plants that make everything from gloves to chicken feed. That has cast a shadow over his plans to pitch the park's cheap labour to Malaysian investors in a July roadshow. "If workers are agreeable and obedient, that will help draw investors. But if they can't be controlled, investors won't come," he frets.

For employers struggling to survive the economic crisis, the nationwide surge of labour activity could not be more ill-timed. But for factory workers badly squeezed by the same crisis, Indonesia's liberalized political atmosphere provides essential room to manoeuvre, and that means employers can expect a more activist labour force. Already living hand to mouth, workers don't see why they should bear the brunt of inflation, when many factory owners -- particularly those outside Java -- appear to be prospering from exports.

"The businessmen are getting richer," fumes one worker who earns about 300,000 rupiah ($37) a month at Tjipta Rimba Jaya, a Medan plywood firm. "They use Indonesian materials for products to sell overseas. So why should my salary stay the same?" Yet many other workers remain hesitant to press their demands, dreading further lay-offs in domestic industries already deep into retrenchment. Ignoring reformasi, hundreds of factories continue to fire workers for union activities.

Indonesia's labour movement began building momentum in the early 1990s, only to founder after a mass protest of 14,000 Medan workers in 1994 ended in violence. Other cities fell under the pall, as dozens of labour activists were thrown into jail and military surveillance of workers and labour advocates intensified around the country.

Now, many factors are contributing to jump-start the movement. The forces unleashed by Suharto's downfall in May 1998 were reflected in an immediate outbreak of strikes: The Manpower Ministry recorded 83 strikes the following June, compared to just four in the previous February. (That pace has slowed somewhat to 31 strikes officially reported in April of this year, although the ministry tends to under-report industrial disputes.)

A leading labour advocate, Muchtar Pakpahan, was released from jail shortly after Suharto resigned. Together with devoted cadres, he set about rebuilding his upstart labour union, known as SBSI. Thanks to reformasi, SBSI won government approval last July, after years of battling a regime that would only recognize one union -- SPSI -- long dominated by functionaries from the ruling Golkar party and largely subservient to employers' interests. Factions later emerged within SPSI and a splinter group formed SPSI Reformasi. A new union of plantation workers has also emerged. Even middle-class white-collar workers are also beginning to mobilize, particularly in the banking sector.

Meanwhile, a variety of political and social organizations are rapidly regrouping to push a pro-labour agenda. The Democratic People's Party, or PRD, has overcome its once-outlawed status and begun to mobilize labour. Three new workers' parties have also blossomed, although many factory hands profess loyalty to Megawati Sukarnoputri, head of the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle.

Labour activists are revelling in their new freedom, although they foresee much hard work ahead. "Just two months before Suharto fell, someone smashed the glass windows of our office. We were terrorized," says Sri Eni Purnawati, an advocate for child workers in Medan. "After reformasi, we can sleep easy. We don't have to work on the run."

Not everyone is so enthusiastic. "The workers are being carried away by provocateurs," says Aswad, a public-relations officer for C.V. Kober, a Medan factory that makes plastic household items. Striking workers want a 3,500-rupiah food allowance and other benefits in addition to their minimum wage, but Aswad says the factory can only afford 1,000 rupiah per worker for food. So far, the workers are not giving up, even though previous strikes ended in failure. "Before, we were divided," says 19-year-old worker Mamek Slamet. "Now we're united. And we're free to voice our demands."

As the workers spilled onto the sidewalk in the waning days of the election campaign, cadres from the small National Labour Party -- linked to Pakpahan's SBSI -- arrived to drum up a little support. They handed out brochures declaring their platform included a minimum monthly wage of 600,000 rupiah and 20% of factory shares distributed to workers. The crowd responded with a bit of friendly scepticism. "What's the guarantee?" challenged Mamek. As expected, the party has so far remained an impoverished, marginal player on the scene, holding small pep talks under coconut trees and winning votes primarily among those already aided by SBSI. Indeed, early election results indicate that all the new labour-oriented parties fared marginally.

Many groups are trying to push the workers' agenda beyond basic issues such as wages to broader political goals such as eliminating the military's control over civilian affairs. However, most analysts agree that it will take years to promote political education, due to the ignorance systematically fostered by the Suharto regime. "In the short term, workers will remain a floating mass," predicts Vedi Hadiz, a research fellow at Murdoch University's Asia Research Centre in Western Australia. "Megawati, like all the other leaders of the major parties, has no organic links with the labour movement."

Even cadres from the small, worker-oriented parties sometimes seemed their own worst enemy in marshalling votes in the run-up to the June 7 contest. Sri Surya Ningsih, a 32-year-old worker at a Medan electronics factory, volunteered to be a PRD parliamentary candidate and made the rounds of workers' cramped quarters. "Now, the most important thing is to get rid of the military's dual function," she insisted, seconds after walking in. "We don't understand politics!" wailed Sumi, a 24-year-old worker at a glove factory. Taking a deep breath, Sri continued, "Our leader, Budiman Soedjatmiko, is in jail. Do you know why?" Another blank stare. Finally, Sri gave her pitch on wages. "Sure, even an idiot wants wages to go up 100%," answered Sumi.

Other promises failed to reach their target audience. "We will liberate you from a form of colonialism far more evil than the Dutch," thundered Syamsul Halal, a campaigner for Megawati's party, during a brief stop at a state-owned rubber plantation in North Sumatra's Langkat district. More than 50% of the company's shares would be distributed to workers, he pledged. "You will be plantation owners, not coolies!"

That might have gone over well had someone bothered to check the workers' schedule. The sparsely attended rally was over by noon, two hours before the workers finished their field chores. Sitting glumly under a row of rubber trees, four workers in mud-spattered shirts strained to hear the sounds of the first non-Golkar rally held here for more than three decades. "Maybe my hand votes for Golkar, but my heart supports Megawati," says 51-year-old Mislan, still waiting for an unprecedented four-month bonus to be handed out by the state-owned firm. As the foreman approached, the workers fell silent. Even in the burgeoning labour movement, reformasi has its limits.
Human rights/law

Human rights violations abound: Amnesty

Agence France Presse - June 16, 1999

London -- Serious human rights violations occurred in Indonesia in 1998 including hundreds of arrests, dozens of killings, torture and disappearances, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

In its annual review it unveiled a catalogue of abuses leading up to the fall of strongman Suharto in May 1998, which continued under his successor President B.J. Habibie despite the start of political reforms.

"While at least 179 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, sentenced in previous years were released, at least 172 remained in custody," Amnesty said.

At least 358 prisoners of conscience were detained. "Torture and 'disappearances' continued. Dozens of people were killed by the security forces in suspicious circumstances."

"Previous cases of 'disappearances' and extrajudicial executions remained unresolved," it added.

Amnesty said it had repeatedly appealed for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of conscience, and an end to torture, 'disappearances' and extrajudicial executions.

It highlighted the "unlawful" killings of four university students in Jakarta in May 1998, just days before Suharto stepped down ending his 32-year iron-fisted rule.

The killings sparked riots in which at least 1,000 people died and a government investigating team found that 66 women mostly ethnic Chinese, had been raped.

"The team recommended that those responsible be brought to justice, but by the end of the year no one had been charged," the report added.

It also highlighted problems in the troubled territory of East Timor and the province of Aceh, with reports of extrajudicial executions.

While at least three East Timorese prisoners of conscience remained in prison, several others were "arrested during the year for their peaceful activities in support of independence," Amnesty said.

East Timorese will vote in August on whether to accept a broad offer of autonomy under Jakarta or opt for independence.

"Hundreds of people were subjected to short-term arbitrary detention. In East Timor, at least 64 people were arbitrarily detained by the military in July for alleged links to armed opposition groups, despite the fact that the military has no legal authority to conduct arrests," Amnesty said.

"At least 14 East Timorese were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials on charges of involvement in violent activities."

And 20 men were tried on charges for supporting armed separatists in Aceh after trials which started in 1997.

"Many of the men were tortured, including by electric shocks, during long periods of incommunicado detention by the military. Information about their torture raised during the trials was not investigated or taken into account by the courts."

"There were claims by the armed forces, which were not independently confirmed, that armed opposition groups in East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya committed human rights abuses, including deliberate killings," the report added.
News & issues

Attorney General Andi Ghalib steps down

Asian Wall Street Journal - June 14, 1999

Jeremy Wagstaff and Puspa Madani, Jakarta -- Succumbing to public pressure, Indonesian Attorney General Andi Ghalib stepped down amid a corruption scandal that offers a glimpse of simmering tensions among the country's elites as they await the results of this month's elections.

Ministers said Mr. Ghalib had asked to be suspended from duty while he deals with allegations that he took payments from businessmen.

Mr. Ghalib, a serving lieutenant general, had come under increasing pressure to step down after Indonesian Corruption Watch, an independent organization, last week revealed what it said were details of bank transactions showing Mr. Ghalib and his wife had accepted up to $1.6 million from Indonesian tycoons who were under investigation by his office for banking irregularities. Mr. Ghalib has admitted receiving the money, but says it was received in his capacity as head of the Indonesian Wrestling Association. He has denied any wrongdoing and has filed a defamation suit against two Corruption Watch officials.

Mr. Ghalib has been a key member of the government of President B.J. Habibie, responsible for investigating allegations that former President Suharto illegally amassed billions of dollars during his 32-year rule. For Mr. Habibie, a onetime Suharto protege, the investigation has become a measure of his commitment to reform -- and his chances of being elected president by an assembly later this year. Mr. Ghalib's investigation has made little progress, despite a visit to investigate banks in Austria and Switzerland late last month.

The scandal comes at an awkward time for Mr. Habibie, threatening to undermine his support as jockeying among parties begins ahead of the selection of a new president later this year. Votes are still being counted from polls held on June 7 for a 500-seat parliament, Indonesia's first free elections since 1955. The parliament would fill most of a 700-seat assembly whose main task is to select the country's next president. While the current ruling party, Golkar, has nominated Mr. Habibie as its presidential candidate, some politicians have advocated jettisoning him in a bid to attract support from smaller parties for a coalition.

Unofficial results late Monday showed that with just over half the votes counted, Golkar has 21%, behind the opposition, Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle, which has 36%.

The timing has prompted some diplomats and officials to wonder whether this case had some assistance from behind the scenes. They note that the evidence was detailed and comprehensive, including original bank slips, indicating that someone familiar with banking and with Mr. Ghalib was involved. Bank Lippo, where the accounts were held, has denied any of its staff were involved. Indonesian Corruption Watch member Teten Masduki said he doesn't know where the material came from.

Some diplomats and officials saw the suspension as a move by Mr. Habibie to distance himself from the scandal. "Habibie has lost ground by not sacking (Mr. Ghalib) straightaway," one diplomat said. "But this may have won some back for him."

But a lawyer for Mr. Ghalib, Ruhut Sitompul, denied Mr. Habibie had pressured the attorney general to step down. "In fact, it was Habibie who supported him to stay on," Mr. Sitompul said.

Mr. Habibie last Thursday announced a week-long audit of Mr. Ghalib's accounts, to be undertaken by Arthur Anderson & Co. and Prasetio Utomo Consult. Military police are also investigating the case. But public pressure to do more continued to mount, especially after Mr. Ghalib raised some hackles by calling Indonesian Corruption Watch member Mr. Masduki an "animal" and vowing to pursue him to the grave.

Mr. Masduki on Monday welcomed the attorney general's temporary resignation but said Indonesia had a long way to go in eradicating corruption.

Ministers said after a meeting with the president that Mr. Ghalib had submitted a letter of resignation dated June 9, and had been temporarily replaced by Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security Affairs, Feisal Tanjung. Armed-forces leader Gen. Wiranto, Mr. Ghalib's commanding officer, said the attorney general wanted to concentrate on the defamation lawsuit.

Teten plans to send more 'gifts' to Ghalib

Jakarta Post - June 12, 1999

Bandung -- Attorney General Andi M. Ghalib, who has recently been accused of abusing his power to enrich himself, can expect to come under further scrutiny after the disclosure by the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) of money, allegedly bribes, transferred to his bank accounts.

"I still have other 'bombs' for Ghalib, as many reports about his savings in other banks have been sent to us," Teten Masduki, executive coordinator of the independent corruption watchdog, said here on Wednesday.

ICW was established in June last year by noted lawyers and social activists to fight for the recovery of assets allegedly amassed illegally by former president Soeharto and his family and friends.

Since its establishment, the body has received around 2,000 reports from the public, most of which relate to major cases, Teten said. However, the ICW has to investigate the reports before making them public, he said.

In a media briefing on June 3, Teten and Bambang Widjojanto, a member of ICW's ethics board, announced that Rp 1.8 billion (US$225,000) was transferred to separate bank accounts registered to Ghalib and his wife Andi Murniati.

Part of the money was sent by prominent businessmen Prajogo Pangestu and The Nin King, who were recently investigated by the Attorney General's Office for financial crimes.

At the time of the announcement, Ghalib was in Europe tracing the alleged wealth of the Soeharto family reported by Time magazine. Ghalib's wife reportedly accompanied the active Army lieutenant general during the trip.

In a second press conference, ICW revealed evidence of a huge amount of savings in Ghalib's name that was said to be "not proportional" to his monthly salary of about Rp 7.5 million.

The 53-year-old general has admitted to have received money transfers totaling Rp 450 million from Prajogo and The Nin King, although he claimed the transfers were donations for the Indonesian Wrestling Association (PGSI) he chairs.

Teten said similar cases could be made against several Cabinet ministers, but said he preferred to finish Ghalib's case before disclosing other names. "If Ghalib is dismissed, he will point his finger at other people too," Teten said in a discussion in Bandung.

Teten also denied that ICW took such actions to intentionally defame Ghalib. "They're Ghalib's sins. I told him not to go to Switzerland [to trace Soeharto's wealth]. It's impossible even if the person gives him the power of attorney."

"As he went to trace another person's bank accounts, his own bank accounts here are messed up," said Teten, who graduated from the Chemistry School of the Bandung Institute of Teachers' Training (IKIP).

He said he wanted to give an example to Ghalib of how to investigate bank accounts.

ICW has really made its milestone in combating the collusion, corruption and nepotism prevalent in the country with the uncovering of Ghalib's controversial transfers.

"I'm not the main actor ... ICW is only a mediator," Teten said. He said people should thank the unidentified parties that sent the data to ICW's office via a courier firm on May 27.

"They're remarkable, we will never disclose who leaked the data as we don't know who they are," he said.

Over the last two months, a five-man team within the body has studied operation methods and patterns of corruption at the Supreme Court and the Attorney General's Office -- as suggested by Indonesian political observer Daniel S. Lev and a professor of law from the Netherlands.

But then, out of the blue, ICW received a package, comprising bank account numbers, balances and transactions belonging to Ghalib and his wife at the Lippo Bank's Melawai office in South Jakarta.

"We checked whether the accounts belong to Attorney General Ghalib," he said. He said that banks do not reveal the ownership of accounts when asked, even for official purposes.

"They will even possibly close the accounts. It's also impossible to ask those who have transferred the money. They will be tightlipped or the accounts will be eliminated."

"To find out who owns the account, just make a transfer to the account and ask for a printout. If the account is then closed, I still have the printout," Teten said.

"I transferred Rp 50,000 to each account ... it's my donation to the country's wrestling sport," he said.

However, Teten said the body did not expect Ghalib to be so publicly condemned when the findings were disclosed to public.

"Pak Ghalib was in Switzerland at that time. We gave journalists the data from the accounts and we also reported it to the Military Police for protection, as those who gave the money were people whose cases were handled by the Attorney General's Office," he said.

"We have already traced where the money has gone. It was a quick investigation, which was done not only by ICW. Before we invited journalists [for the press conference], we asked several newspapers to interview the wrestling body, which we believed would deny it, because the money was stated as donations," he said.

"We threw in this fishing line and Pak Ghalib quickly took the bait. What a lele dumbo [big catfish], as soon as he sees the excrement he will take it."

ICW wanted to be sure that they were Ghalib's accounts. If the bait was taken, then it would be easier to get the fish, he said, without elaborating further.

A former labor activist, Teten admitted that many people had offered him bribes, but said he kept rejecting the offers. "I'm poor but I can't be bribed," he said.
Arms/Armed forces

Military is down, but not out

International Herald Tribune - June 14, 1999

Michael Richardson, Jakarta -- The Indonesian armed forces, for many years a bastion of political support for the authoritarian government of former President Suharto, declared that they were neutral in parliamentary elections held last week, helping to make the polls a genuine contest for the first time since 1955.

But analysts said Sunday that such a hands-off approach was unlikely to continue as the military seeks to protect its interests amid intense maneuvering over the next few months not just to form a coalition government, but for the main political prize -- the post of executive president of Indonesia.

Megawati Sukarnoputri -- leader of the Indonesian Democracy Party-Struggle that seems likely to emerge from the elections with the largest plurality of votes, but still well short of a majority -- has been careful not to antagonize the armed forces. Indeed, by adopting a nationalist line on many issues, including the need to maintain the unity of Indonesia in its present form, Mrs. Megawati has echoed some of their chief concerns.

Amien Rais, chairman of the National Mandate Party, the group that lies fifth in the partial vote count, said over the weekend that he would not agree to form a coalition with Mrs. Megawati's party unless she agreed to four conditions, among them phasing out the "dual function," of the military in which it has a legally sanctioned political role in addition to operating as an external defense and internal security force.

Mr. Rais's statement reflects the suspicion among many reformist civilian politicians that the military is positioning itself to act as king-maker in a situation where no party commands a majority in either the new Parliament or the electoral college that is due to choose the next president and vice president of the country, in November.

Since the forced resignation of Mr. Suharto just over a year ago amid student-led protests, riots and the worst recession in more than 30 years, the armed forces have been widely blamed for propping up a corrupt autocracy and committing many human rights abuses.

"The events of 1998 have put the military on the defensive as never before," said Harold Crouch of the Australian National University in Canberra, who is a specialist on the Indonesian armed forces.

To try to regain respect -- while preserving as much of its power, privileges and business interests as possible -- the armed forces, headed by their commander, General Wiranto, who is also Defense Minister, agreed to moves by Parliament in December to cut the number of seats reserved for military appointees to 38 from 75 in the 500-seat national legislature. Similar cuts applied to military appointees in the 27 provincial assemblies, whose members were also elected last week.

But with 288,000 troops spread widely across Indonesia, and many provincial leaders who come from the military, the armed forces still have what one analyst called a "parallel administration" from the highest echelons of government down to village level.

The military's 38 seats in Parliament amount to almost 8 percent of the total -- more than any of the 48 parties contesting the elections, except the top three or four, are likely to gain.

The president and vice president of Indonesia are chosen by the People's Consultative Assembly, the top constitutional body in the country. It is made up of the 500 members of Parliament, plus 135 representatives of provincial legislatures and 65 appointees from civic and professional bodies.

As a result, Mr. Crouch expects that the military will be able to wield a bloc of about 65 delegates out of 700 in the assembly, nearly 10 percent of the total.

"The armed forces are hardly in a position to push their own candidate for president," Mr. Crouch said. "But they could still hold the balance of power between rival coalitions of parties, and could therefore exact important concessions as the price for their votes."

Military fears for its future

Far Eastern Economic Review - June 17, 1999

John McBeth, Jakarta -- When Indonesia's top generals gathered at the Command and Staff College in Bandung in September 1998 to consider the future of the armed forces, they were finally forced to admit that under former President Suharto's New Order regime, the military had stretched dwifungsi -- its "dual function" roles of a political as well as security force -- far beyond what was envisaged when it was created in the 1950s.

"Those who conceived dwifungsi," a seminar summary noted, "couldn't anticipate the possibility that a future president would have a direct position in the command hierarchy and use that influence for his own social and political interests." That's a startling admission of what had gone wrong under Suharto's 32-year rule, even if it doesn't acknowledge the army's willingness to play along with Suharto.

For decades the military has justified a central role in politics and society based on its revolutionary role in the struggle for independence. But Suharto ensured that the military's muscle was harnessed to his own interests. Reinforced by systematic depoliticization and a territorial apparatus stretching from the smallest village to Jakarta's corridors of power, it also served as a constant reminder that civilians weren't to be trusted.

Now, disorientated by Suharto's abrupt departure and in the middle of an uncertain transition, the Indonesian armed forces have lost their compass. They're hesitant about dealing with social unrest, lying half in and half out of the nation's political life and struggling to make a choice between the regiments of reformation and the squadrons of the status quo.

With its legislative representation dwindling and civilians seemingly gaining the upper hand, it must choose between clinging to what remains of its power, or adopting a professional, back-to-the-barracks ethos. "With these sort of political dynamics we have now, we're in an identity crisis," says one senior Indonesian military source. "There's no middle way to put ourselves into a new political role. The only real choice we have is to make a complete swing into professionalism."

Politically, the military's post-election role is as clouded as the poll result itself. It holds 38 of the 500 seats in the newly elected House of Representatives, the national legislature, down from 75. Top generals assert that the armed forces will steer clear of the post-election coalition-building process and don't want to be seen as the parliamentary swing vote. "Before it was easy because we channelled our aspirations through Golkar {the ruling party} and supported the president," says the military source. "Now we are meant to be equidistant {from political parties}, but a point will be reached where we will have to choose sides."

The key test of neutrality is likely to come in October when the 700-strong People's Consultative Assembly (the legislature plus 200 others drawn from provincial parliaments and ethnic, social and religious groups) meets to choose a new president. The armed-forces chief, Gen. Wiranto, is being openly courted by Golkar as a prospective vice-president -- and is even looked on in some quarters of the Jakarta elite as a compromise president if the coalitions can't agree on a candidate. But Wiranto's relations with Suharto -- and an expected national outcry that his candidacy would invoke -- has created a dilemma.

Under President B.J. Habibie and Wiranto, reforms have begun. But although the basic objective is to remove the military from practical politics altogether, Australian expert Harold Crouch says the reform doctrine is hard to fathom. "For the most part, it doesn't add up to a new philosophy," he says. "It says the military should get out of a direct role in politics, but no one is sure where the borderline lies."

That would become a major factor if Wiranto becomes vice- president or president, but reformers are already slowing their pace because of opposition to key changes. While internal military reforms and new local autonomy laws will eventually end the practice of placing serving officers in civil-service jobs, insiders now suggest that developing a strategy to, as the generals say, "redefine, reposition and reactualize" the military could take another 10-15 years. More than 6,000 officers -- mostly colonels and higher ranks -- hold civilian posts, including 3,000 appointees from national and local parliaments where military representation will now fall from 15% to 10%. About 600 of those officers have elected to quit the military and stay on in the civil service and another 1,400 have accepted early pension packages.

But hundreds more could find themselves thrown out of a job prematurely by a reformist administration bent on cleaning house after the elections. And that makes the armed forces nervous. "They have their own self-serving interests of course, but a lot of generals feel it will be a waste of talent and expertise," says a Western military source. "Much of the discussion is over whether it should be done at all, let alone when it should be implemented."

Similar foot-dragging is noted elsewhere. While the military is making some effort to lower its profile in civilian affairs, it only seems to be tightening its grip on internal security by forming seven new military regions in northern Sumatra, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, and Kalimantan.

Army chief Gen. Subagyo says the move is in response to a wave of social unrest, mostly affecting Aceh, West Kalimantan, Ambon and East Timor, which exposed flaws in the army's command-and-control mechanisms. But some officers criticize the reorganization, saying it bypassed proper planning processes, provides no additional manpower and ignores the fact that the Indonesian police now have responsibility for internal security.

Indeed, with the police separated from the military chain of command since April 1, they say it would make more sense to boost the ranks of the 11,000-strong Police Mobile Brigade. Although the paramilitary force has two regiments in Jakarta to reinforce nationwide trouble spots, planners want to add a third airborne unit for more rapid deployment.

Despite the criticism, the military expects the new regional structure to be in place by 2006. Maluku and the riot-torn island of Ambon were separated from the Irian Jaya command in mid-May, and Aceh is expected to be next.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the reorganization is the planned division of the Nusa Tenggara island chain into two, with the existing structure responsible for Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa, and a new command being created to cover Flores, East and West Timor. Notes one Western military source: "From that, there seems to be an implicit assumption that East Timor will still be part of Indonesia" after the August 8 ballot to determine the former Portuguese enclave's future.

Maintaining separate functions for the police and military is going to be difficult for both services. "The worrying thing is taking away the army's pride," says one general. "Up to now internal security has been the army's job and it's not easy for it to detach itself from its old playground." One major sticking point will be intelligence. Handing that function over to the police, the sources acknowledge, is "something big" for an army whose lock on domestic information-gathering was a key factor in Suharto's political control.

The military has had difficulty adjusting to the changed situation on the ground since the former president's downfall. Notes a military source: "We don't have extensive experience in riot control, mainly because the armed forces have always taken their authority for granted." Not any more, judging by the length of time it took to bring the recent Ambon bloodshed under control and the deteriorating situation in Aceh.

Time and again, the military has demonstrated a lack of judgment and expertise in dealing with riots and protests, overreacting in some cases and failing to do enough in others. Experts say below-strength tear gas and poor tactics often puts demonstrators in lethal range of plastic bullets. They point out that four people died in pro-democracy street protests in South Korea between 1986 and 1988. In Jakarta last November eight students were killed in a single afternoon.

The police, for their part, have three years to get the fundamentals right and five years to develop a formal organizational structure. Building a new culture -- in which the police abandon their paramilitary role and treat members of society as partners rather than enemies -- will take a lot longer. Some experts estimate it will take 10-17 years for it to take hold and say they are concerned that while the police have been detached from the military, they still remain under Defence Ministry jurisdiction. Like a lot of things about Indonesia's transitional process, that's not a good place to start.
Economy and investment 

Megawati camp endorses IMF Program

Wall Street Journal - June 16, 1999 (abridged)

Richard Borsuk, Jakarta -- A top aide to Megawati Sukarnoputri, saying it is currently impossible to use a fixed rupiah exchange rate, reaffirmed that an Indonesian government led by her would stick to the International Monetary Fund's rescue program.

Laksamana Sukardi, a deputy chairman of Ms. Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle and one of her senior economic advisers, assured investors on Tuesday of the party's commitment to the IMF bailout. He described it as "effective in containing the damage" to Indonesia's economy, though he said it isn't effective in restoring what has been damaged.

Mr. Sukardi's remarks at a seminar should dispel concerns of some analysts that a Megawati-led government could move onto a collision course with the IMF. Another Megawati aide, Kwik Kian Gie, said earlier Tuesday that "probably now is the best moment to bring the rupiah down by introducing a fixed rate," according to Reuters news agency. The IMF opposes such a move.

The rupiah has strengthened by a third in three months, hitting 7,240 to the dollar late Tuesday. But Mr. Kwik also said a fixed rate shouldn't be introduced at the cost of breaking ties with the IMF.

Mr. Sukardi said both he and Mr. Kwik are committed "to continue the IMF program." While party members have different views on a fixed exchange rate, the conditions needed to have one, such as huge foreign-exchange reserves, are "presently impossible to meet," Mr. Sukardi said.

Home | Site Map | Calendar & Events | News Services | Resources & Links | Contact Us