The government is wealthy, but
the rural citizens continue to be poor, without food and proper
nourishment. Men, women, and children live in unsanitary conditions
and are suffering from malnutrition. The ethnic Chinese are standing
strong and successful in the commercial class, but ethnic
discrimination pours towards them as riots erupt tension boils,
leading to further persecution.
Eighteen died in late February when troops fired on Muslim and Christian
groups. A total as large as 145 have died in the Malaku area
last year. Some of the worst rioting has transpired since President
Suharto's resignation. His resignation was probably directly related to defeat by the
protestors against his presidency. Riots and protests against his rule caused the
authoritarian President Suharto to quit in May, after a 32 year rule.
Suharto was on a trip in Egypt, which he cut short to return to his
country where outbursts were erupting. He returned to a country in
chaos. The 76 year-old president waved the white flag of surrender
and resigned from his presidency. During his rule, poverty was cut from
60% (1970) to 11%. He improved the country's success,
making him a hero to many poor citizens. However, the country
continued to be in poverty and the economy remained poor. Many
protested against his authoritarian rule - the start of the
burning riots that he returned to in May, only to surrender after years of rule.
Although he supposedly carried
anti-communist beliefs, the government still had a great deal of control over the
country during his rule. When he returned, fires were
ablaze, government buildings were gutted, and hundreds were dead. He was
forced from a job that was going against him; a battle that many believed would be
futile and fruitless. Many loved him and many opposed him. While some believed an era had come to
an end and that a hero had stepped down from presidency, others said it was an occurence they were waiting for.
Riots continued even after his resign.
Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie is the current president of Indonesia,
who was a close friend to Suharto, and vice-president during his rule.
In late March, three days of ethnic fighting emerged in Borneo. At least 64
lives were taken during the three days of rioting. The
police were under a "shoot-to-kill" order, which caused lives to be taken
as they forced people to return to their homes. However,
the mass of people they were pushing home held the knives and swords used
in ethnic fighting, in addition to numerous homemade guns. The police were pushing back a mob armed with
ethnic discrimination, fighting over ethnic and religious issues, and
killing. Villages went up in flames. Citizens of
Malay, Bugis, Dayak, and other ethnic Chinese were against the
Madurese immigrants. Immigrants who were part of the government's resettlement to
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, brewing
with masses of people that are caught up
fighting, either against their will or intentionally driven by hatred.
Several bombing incidents occurred in Jakarta in April. In an interview with
a young Chinese woman in Jakarta, the
details of the incident in her city were revealed. "Yesterday, a
time bomb was planted inside the
Istiqlal Mosque complex (Istiqlal is the biggest and grandest mosque in
South East Asia - the pride of Moslems in Indonesia). The explosion
destroyed 30 rooms and wounded 7 people," she relates. "No one killed
though... the mosque itself was okay. No one or group comes forward to
claim the responsibility... always works that way, here in
Indonesia... irresponsible people do their dirty work but they are too
coward to admit what they have done. All remains unsolved. What these
people tried to do was to create chaos and panic, to deter the coming
election and to disintegrate the various groups of people... some Muslims
burnt... churches or Christian community to retaliate the mosque bombing
incident... they just put the blame on the Christians. Last year, hundreds
of churches and
Christian schools were burnt by these people...two men were arrested
for interrogation regarding the bombing... these people were members of
Mujahidin Militant Moslems. Very confusing!!!" Go to "Life in Jakarta" to read her
interview and letters written throughout the past months.
The Chinese of Indonesia aren't allowed the same rights as the
natives. Someone will yell out to them and call them by their race,
showing little respect and emphasizing their racial difference. No
Chinese is allowed to become president of Indonesia. They are not
allowed to go into the army or become ministers. They must pay more
for government services, and many of the intelligent Chinese
students are not selected to continue on at public universities. Even Chinese-related
activities, such as the New Year's Dragon Dance, are not allowed to transpire in public.
Almost 90% of all Indonesians are Muslim. The Chinese aren't, for
the most part, following Buddhism. The difference in religion causes
separation as well, and not many of the Chinese associate or assimilate
with others of Indonesian origin. The Chinese are successful in
business, which is also a source of envy for the Indonesians.
Indonesia is generally male-dominated. The role of women varies, but
most receive limited formal opportunities. They are not considered to have
the full rights that men receive, but opinions
vary. Many people say women have considerable power within families.
There is one isolated example of the Minangkabau society in western
Sumatra. They are matrilineal, which means the property and lineage is
traced through the mother's side. This is a rare case, though.
Many women don't have the same business opportunities as men in the
area of managers and administrators, where women make up less than 10%
of the work force, according to a 1990 statistic.
Outside of political concerns, there are issues involving the environment.
Deforestation to make room for the growing population is a growing concern. The air
is constantly polluted by the cities and industry.
Indonesia is still a young country when it comes to democracy.
There is still room for success, given the riots and the mobs. However, many
problems remain unsolved. The people must look
to the future, with hope that their own individual families will have
food, nourishment, and money to provide for the necessities of living.
Whether it will develop more into a
free country, ruled by the people, or maintain a strong communist
influence remains to be seen.
---->On to a Glimpse
into Indonesia's Future