Jan 21, 2018 Last Updated 3:31 AM, Jan 6, 2018

In this issue

Published: Jul 02, 2000

Democracy - How's it going?

Gerry van Klinken

In May it was two years since pro-democracy protesters brought to an end 32 years of Suharto's military-dominated rule. Since then, the country's first democratic elections in 44 years placed two leaders of the democracy movement in the presidential and vice-presidential offices. The military face constant humiliation over past abuses. So how far has Indonesia come on the road to democracy?

No one in this edition would dare say that what the protesters fought for has been achieved. With no Suharto on whom to focus dissent, the many dimensions of Indonesia's problems appear if anything more daunting. So much remains unchanged. The military who backed the anti-communist purges after 1 October 1965 have not yet confronted those evils. The economic elites who repressed labour and raped the environment are still piling up debt.

Many problems are deep-seated. The government of this vast country has been trying to decentralise for nearly a century, and the military have for decades been earning more outside their official budget than inside it. Elites in Medan (and in North Maluku where they started a war) have worked hand-in-glove with mafias for just as long.

And yet our authors would probably agree that change has been faster these last two years than in the previous thirty. Muchtar Pakpahan, Bu Sulami and Budiman Sujatmiko (who appear in this edition) were all Suharto's political prisoners. They now get a hearing even in the mainstream press. Indonesia has a Muslim president who apologised to the victims of the anti-communist purges of '65. But it just isn't enough yet.

Inside Indonesia is a small magazine produced on a shoestring. All our authors know this, and yet they continue to write because Indonesia moves them. Next time we hope to do something on the arts. With the help of the Australia Indonesia Institute, we also hope to bring you an extra four pages! Especially to help students, we want to include an educational supplement with background on a different topic in each of the coming year's editions.

Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

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A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

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    I am from Pakistan and living in Indonesia and I am refugee here. I have been here a long time for 5 years but still I did not get any answer from ...
     
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    Thanks for this detailed account - most reports have been superficial. The politics have been done well, but what about the people? I would have ...
     
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    Inciting violence is a purpose in itself - violence begets more violence. Turning a peaceful event into a violent confrontation serves its own purpose ...
     
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