After months of blaming Indonesia's economic crisis on Indonesians, the world's big players are finally coming round to the view that it was their own push for free markets that caused it. Indonesia, as one journalist put it, is globalisation roadkill. This puts more onus on the world to give help that helps. But how do you do that? In this issue of Inside Indonesia we go to the grassroots of the economic crisis.
The statistic 'half the population below the poverty line' is shocking. Yet it hides as much as it reveals. Not until we step with Lea Jellinek into the homes of the once upwardly mobile on Jakarta's outskirts and hear hungry kids crying in empty lounge rooms - the furniture sold for food - do we feel that this is a human crisis.
Statistics without a human face is one form of Western ignorance. The idea that Indonesians merely need a handout is another. Not until Jane Eaton shares with us the dreams of street kids in Semarang, not until Vanessa Johanson introduces us to some village parents in Java, unemployed yet determined to keep their kids at school, do we see that Indonesians are not beggars. They are innovative battlers.
A big part of that battle is to regain control over their own country. For too long it has been run as the playground of a tiny elite. Infid, the coalition of Indonesian and foreign non- government organisations, has no illusions that a transition to democracy under crisis conditions will be easy. They are simply convinced the present troubles prove the need for more change, not less.
The political aspects of that struggle, somewhat muted this time because we want to highlight the social impact of the economic downturn, will get the spotlight in the next edition.
Gerry van Klinken, Editor.