Published: Sep 29, 2007

Some solidarity please!

The day Suharto resigned, May the 21st 1998, will be for ever inscribed in the history books. It marked the end of a dictatorial era, and the birth of new possibilities. It also marked the end of solid economic growth, even if it had been unequally distributed.

In this edition of Inside Indonesia we celebrate the transition. Quite a few authors reflect on the renewing energy of the peoples movements that brought down the curtain on Suharto. We look forward to the first democratic elections in 44 years.

But we are also holding our breaths for the dark days to come. Not since the revolution of 1945 have the Indonesian people faced such an uncertain future. While the rich pile up more debt, the weak suffer the most. Communalism threatens to rise like a stench from the decaying economy.

The world must now be generous to the Indonesia people. They are being visited by great evils. Some come from outside, as we have pointed out in previous editions of this magazine. But even if they come from within, the Indonesian people deserve our solidarity.

Inside Indonesia exists to show how worthwhile that solidarity can be. Now is the time for people in schools and universities, non-government organisations, unions, churches, the legal profession, to respond compassionately. I like to think we are part of a movement within Australian civil society prepared to look beyond its own problems, urgent as these appear to be, to the truly life and death issues now emerging in a society that lies only just beyond our horizon.

Speaking of Inside Indonesia, we're fifteen! To help celebrate, we asked Helena Spyrou (our multi-talented promotions person) to design a new look for the magazine. We like it. Do you? Drop us a note, on this or anything else. Gerry van Klinken Editor

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998