Jan 18, 2020 Last Updated 7:13 AM, Jan 16, 2020

On the net



With almost 600 different species, ranging from the Sumatran Tiger to the Anteater of Irian Jaya, Indonesia is one the richest countries in the world for mammalian biodiversity. I have produced a checklist of them at http://www.bart.nl/~edcolijn/mammals.html.

The endangered orangutan is particularly well represented on the web. Orangutan rehabilitation centres ask for your support at:

The Balikpapan Orangutan Society, which supports the work of Willie Smits - see elsewhere in this issue of Inside Indonesia: http://www.redcube.nl/bos/. Orangutan Foundation International, founded by Birute Galdikas, who is well-known for her book Reflections on Eden about her experiences with the great apes in Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan: http://www.ns.net/orangutan/index1.html.

Other info about Indonesia's monkeys and orangutans can be found at the Primate Information Center (http://www.primate.wisc.edu/), set up as a meeting point for people studying them. It includes links to several news letters. They also operate the free Primate Talk mailing list - where primate lovers and scientists share their knowledge and experiences. Any primate-related question that you might have will be answered on the list.

The best information about tigers anywhere in the world is presented by the Tiger Information Center (http://www.5tigers.org/). The site has an extensive report on tiger conservation in Indonesia. Indonesia once had three tiger species, but the Bali and Javan Tigers have become extinct. Stories still circulate about the last Javan Tigers roaming the forests of Meru Betiri National Park, southeastern Java, but no sightings have been reported recently. The Sumatran Tiger, the only species left in Indonesia, is critically endangered.

Other cats are served by the Cat Specialist Group (http://lynx.uio.no/catfolk/) working on world-wide carnivore conservation. Indonesia's nine cat species are confined to the western part of the country. Most are nocturnal and your chances of seeing them in the wild are low, but the Cat Specialist site offers you pictures of all.

The International Rhino Foundation does the same for the rhinoceros. Their web site (http://www.rhinos-irf.org/) gives pictures and information about the Sumatran Rhino and, with only about 50 animals left one of the rarest mammals on Earth, the Javan Rhino.

Sheryl Todd, web master of the Tapir Gallery (http://www.tapirback.com/) is waiting for your information about the Malayan Tapir. Tapirs occur both in South America and Southeast Asia, but most is known about the South American species. In Indonesia the endangered Malayan Tapir can only be found in Sumatra. The site has some beautiful Tapir pictures.


The only site on the reptiles of Indonesia, still under construction, is The Herpetology of Indonesia - Biawak's Page at http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/6785/index.htm. Biawak is Indonesian for lizard. The web master, Frank Bambang Yuwono, is a business man active both in the Indonesian sustainable reptile trade and reptile conservation. The site will list all Indonesian reptiles, has a piece on the sustainable reptile trade and offers some nice pictures of reptiles occurring in Indonesia.

A general site about crocodiles, including information and some terrifying pictures of the five species occurring in Indonesia, can be found at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/herpetology/crocs.htm.

For those interested in the scientific stuff, a world reptile checklist is on the web at http://www.embl- heidelberg.de/~uetz/LivingReptiles.html .

Ed Colijn is a dedicated amateur in the Netherlands.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

In this issue

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

'They just want love...'

Disasters and greed threaten the orangutan in Kalimantan. But WILLIE SMITS and his team of Indonesian carers are giving hundreds a new start.

Willie Smits

On Monday, April 26, early in the morning our team leaves for Samarinda, 100 kilometres to the north. A convoy of four cars, consisting of one hired truck with heavy cages, two four wheel drive vehicles we received from WWF, loaded with light aluminum cages and other equipment, and one other normal car. We call at the Samarinda nature conservation office to pick up two forestry policemen and the necessary legal papers to do orangutan confiscations.

In Samarinda a lady with scared looks opens the door. When she realises what the police have come for she starts weeping. A tiny male orangutan baby shows up, about 15 months old. She has had it for two weeks. Her husband bought it in Sebulu for Rp 150,000 or less than US$20.

In a corner of the room hiding behind her we discover a baby gibbon as well. After signing the confiscation papers it is time to go. The lady cries and hugs and kisses her baby for the last time, tears rolling over her cheeks all the time.

It is easy to understand why people want these little orangutans so much. They just want love and give it so easily themselves. We have to pull the two loose and leave with a bad feeling in our stomachs.

On the way to Sebulu we pass through a blackened brownish landscape. There is hardly any green colour left to see. The wind blows up dust, as do the passing cars with water tanks. Yes we did have some rain during the last three days but it will take many weeks of constant rain to help the trees and to return a flow of water to the streams and the wells of the people. This is normally the end of the rainy season and in a few weeks the regular dry season will start.


When we arrive in Sebulu we stop at a house where we caught several orangutans who were attacking the last green trees there. Robby and some people that already know our cars show up. Robby is a contractor for the local timber estate and very concerned with the wildlife that is suffering. Nobody is home and together we walk to the back of the house to see the tree where we rescued Billy.

I still shiver when I think of the sight two weeks ago on this very branch of this jackfruit tree. An orangutan with bloated face, no eyes visible anymore, breathing with difficulty, blood and saliva dripping from his mouth and a harpoon sticking through his right arm. His throat pouch had a deep hole just under his chin and a disgusting smell of rotten meat overwhelmed anyone coming near.

Using an old saw and under a light anaesthetic I managed to remove the hooks of the harpoon and pull them out the other side of the arm. Immediately upon arrival at Wanariset, Billy's neck wound was operated on.

Then we discovered that his jaw was broken, a terrible ordeal. We tried to find a surgeon in the nearby town of Balikpapan, but to no avail. Finally Dr Heriyanto and Dr Amir of our project pulled the jaw together and connected it with wires as good as they could.

Amazingly, just before we left on this trip, Billy was eating, climbing and his face looked normal again. He even reacted in an almost friendly way to the technicians, and that after all that people had done to him. He had come in between the people's houses looking for a single green tree left there. They beat him almost to death using wooden clubs as well as machetes and a harpoon.

His neck wound needed restitching two times, but now it seems that he is going to make it back to the forest after all. Every time again I am amazed at their strength to overcome injuries.


Next is a long trip up the river system behind Samarinda. Often the river is covered with smog and we see the red glow of fires all along the river banks for hours and hours as we travel through the night. We give up and decide to sleep on the wooden deck of a boat whose captain is so friendly to offer this spot. Just before we do there is another little shriek.

I jump off and indeed in the light of small lamps we find that another cage is hidden behind a makeshift eating place. A very aggressive little orangutan hoots at us. A lot of people wake up and come to see us. We have to be careful how to bring up the subject of confiscation in this lonely place in the middle of nowhere.

The woman claiming to own the orangutan shows up. She says she has had the orangutan for two weeks now. When we ask her how she got this three year old a lot of people start talking. They all point to the other side of the river. The fire came to the water's edge and the orangutan and its mother were completely trapped between the fire and the river.

The little orangutan dropped itself into the water when the flames touched it. It almost drowned, but the woman's husband managed to pull it out of the water into the boat with which he had rushed to the scene. While he rescued the little one, the mother was burned alive, without making a sound. The body is still there at the place where she died in the flames. This fourth confiscation of today does not make us any happier either.

When we explain to the woman, who has nine children, about the dangers of the orangutan she realises what her smallest daughter Laura might suffer. Six-year old Laura was the only person the orangutan, aptly named Krisis (Crisis), trusted. Only she could bathe her and feed her. We give Laura some parasite treatment. When Laura's father arrives out of nowhere around 1 o'clock late that night the confiscation documents are signed without further problems. This poor man and woman will not be called to court. They neither killed a mother orangutan nor wanted to sell the baby.


We reach a camp where a small river has been dammed by the workers and some brown water is left in small pools. Immediately we spot the wide-spread hanging silhouette of an orangutan. We run towards the orangutan, eating the bark of the planted Acacia trees. I let some of the visitors taste it and it is disgustingly bitter. Nevertheless this is the only food these orangutans have left.

Years ago their forests were converted to these plantations, and they were left with small pockets of forest on steep slopes. These are now completely burned out, and the only thing left to eat is the bark of these Acacia mangium trees. If you look at the number of trees damaged you can understand that the company that planted the trees cannot be very happy either.

On the way, Zainal suddenly calls over the radio, an orangutan. A female with a baby alongside the road. We go for it immediately. The female is running over the ground into the forest. When we get near she goes up a tree, but a branch breaks off and she falls back down, onto a black tree stump. She climbs up again and we notice the head of a tiny baby shaking as if it is going to fall off.

The mother starts grunting and hooting, making the characteristic aggressive kissing sounds with her stretched lips while breaking off and throwing branches. After three expensive darts miss their target Udin finally gets a dart in at her back. We must be extremely careful not to hit the baby, her head or her belly.

The poor female desperately swings from one tree to another while the baby's head rocks dangerously backward and forward. A green slurry of excrement rains on us standing ready with the net. It even still smells like the bitter Acacia bark. How could she survive for so long on this terrible diet? Then the female stops and hooks herself in two tree tops that she keeps together.

Nothing can move her and through the binoculars we see that she is unconscious but her hands are locked around the branches. Shaking also has no result. Odom shinnies up the tree and tries to shake her loose. No result. We have to cut the top she is holding on to. Odom cuts the one top and suddenly it comes down. But because the female is holding on to it the second top now also breaks off under her weight. Fortunately the tree top comes down first, breaking the fall. We rush to the fallen female and try to turn her around because her little baby is underneath, only a tiny skinny hand visible. When we turn her we see what looks like a dead baby hanging on to a completely dry nipple.

We take the seemingly lifeless little body off her and rush the mother to the road, where the truck and cages are waiting. At the road side the baby starts to shriek and move a little. Immediately we try to get some water into her mouth. She has blue lips, sunken eyes and is only skin and bones with a disproportionately large head, typical starvation and dehydration symptoms.

She is barely conscious but starts to swallow the water greedily. Then we give her some quickly prepared milk. Half an hour later she regains some strength. The mothers' belly completely collapses as if a balloon is being emptied. Her vagina is still reddish from giving birth a short while ago to the baby.

I would never have imagined the drought and the fires could lead to this. If we do not rescue the surviving orangutans from the burned area in the next two months the orangutans of East Kalimantan could face extinction. How many can we still save ? How can we build enough cages? How can we get enough food for some 200 orangutans already at the centre while people are lacking food as well? How can we.... I hope some of you who read this can help us solve some of those questions.

That Wednesday night I sleep five restless hours. Tomorrow the team will leave again, now to Bontang where today some five orangutans were reported to be attacking some houses of villagers. I will have to go to Jakarta to meet the Minister tomorrow and will try to catch up with a loaded mailbox again.

Dr Willie Smits directs the Orangutan Reintroduction Centre at Wanariset in East Kalimantan. Send donations to support his work to BOS-USA Inc (a non-profit NGO), PO Box 2113, Aptos CA 95001-2113, USA. Email: Michael Sowards @sprynet.com>.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

Worshipping cancer sticks

The tobacco industry keeps the government afloat, but at a huge cost in ordinary lives.


Catherine Reynolds

One of the most evocative scents of Indonesia is the smell of kretek clove cigarettes. But behind the smoke haze of this rich sensory aroma few people contemplate the economics of Indonesia's tobacco industry. It is the government's largest source of revenue after oil, gas and timber, a reliable internal revenue, unlikely to suffer from external market fluctuations. This revenue recouped a staggering Rp 4.49 trillion in excise in 1997/98. That's over AU$ 2 billion at pre-crash exchange rates.

Amazingly, the tobacco industry is also the second largest employer after government. Employment estimates range from 4 - 17 million workers, in areas such as farming, trading, transportation and advertising, as well as those actually involved in producing cigarettes. The Indonesian government is critically dependent on the industry. As a result, opposition to it is discouraged and cigarette advertisers have free rein. In 1996 for instance, Indonesia's Health Minister confirmed that 'the government had no intention of trying to regulate smoking through legislation'.

PT Sampoerna is one of the largest Indonesian tobacco companies. They confidently noted in their 1995 Annual Report:

'Being such an important economic component, and the fact that the industry and the government have, all in all, a good working relationship with each other in the past, make it doubtful that the government will radically change (for the worse) its current policies towards the industry as a whole.'

In light of this situation it is interesting to note that the Suharto family and their business associates control a substantial proportion of the advertising media, including billboards, television and cinema.

Young smokers

Any short visit to Indonesia will reveal the huge number of Indonesians, particularly men, who smoke. Estimates of participation rates range from 50% to 85%.

Indonesians are now also smoking at a younger age than ever before. A 1985 Jakarta study found that 49% of boys and 9% of girls aged 10 - 14 were daily smokers. Today the Indonesian Health Department, perhaps conservatively, estimates that 22.9% of urban ten year olds, and 24.8% of rural ten year olds smoke.

The dangers of smoking are not well known in Indonesia. Warnings that 'smoking can harm your health' were introduced on cigarette packets in 1991. But they are small and ineffective as deterrents. Meanwhile, the saturation levels of advertising together with the lack of health information about kreteks even extends to active misinformation. As recently as 1989 Adam Schwarz noted an article in Business News magazine which stated that kreteks could prevent heart disease and cancer. Katherine Frith, writing about advertising in Indonesia, observed that the packaging on another brand claims the cigarette increases longevity and improves health.

In reality, most kretek clove cigarettes contain around four times as much nicotine and tar as the strongest Marlboros. Tests on the clove oil, eugenol, have shown that it causes extensive lung damage when smoked.

The earlier people start to smoke, the more likely they are to maintain the habit throughout life. Unless people start smoking by the time they are twenty, they usually never do. As more than 50% of the population is under 24 years old, the potential market (to use the current euphemism for a trade in lethal drugs) is huge. Tobacco companies covet this 'market' because they must recruit new smokers in order to maintain their profits, replacing those who die or quit.

The teenage years are the time when people are more focussed on their image and identity, and are particularly vulnerable to cigarette advertising. As people get older and become more secure in their identity, the advertised 'attributes' of cigarettes are no longer such a lure. Habit and addiction take their place.


In contrast to the tobacco industry in other countries, Indonesia's industry is not dominated by multinationals, but by four ethnic-Chinese Indonesian companies. There are at least 155 tobacco companies in Indonesia, but the four major producers, Gudang Garam, Djarum Kudus, HM Sampoerna and Bentoel, control about 85% of the market share.

In 1997, Geoff Hiscock, Asia editor of The Australian, noted that of the seven Indonesian US dollar billionaires, three were tobacco barons:

Rachman Halim and his Wonowidjojo family (Gudang Garam) were worth US$4.9 billion in November 1997, after the drop in the rupiah; Budi Hartono and family (Djarum) were worth US$1 billion with 20% market share of kreteks in early 1997;

Putera Sampoerna and family (Dji Sam Soe A King, A Mild, A International) were worth US$1 billion in November 1997.


Three multinationals vie for the remaining market share: Philip Morris, BAT Indonesia and Rothmans. The Indonesian market is enormously attractive for multinational tobacco companies because they can safely engage in marketing practices they sanctimoniously decry elsewhere, in the process obtaining far less troublesome profits. For as Sampoerna's 1995 Annual Report smugly states: 'The culture of Indonesia is not litigatious in nature, and therefore the industry here does not expect the same exposure to litigation and potential lawsuits as do their American counterparts'.

In order to increase their share of these trouble free profits promised by the fourth largest market in the world, the three multinationals navigate Indonesia's corrupt business environment with a variety of tactics.

Rothmans recently formed a partnership with then-president Suharto's cousin, Sudwikatmono. In their 1997 Annual Report they were optimistic about increasing their share of the Indonesian market with the aid of what then seemed a judicious alliance. In addition to his ties with Suharto, Sudwikatmono also controls the import and distribution of overseas films. No doubt this ensures Rothmans easy access to advertising in cinemas.

Philip Morris, an enormously powerful company in its own right, also has powerful connections. Rupert Murdoch, recently voted fourth most powerful man in Asia by Asiaweek, is a director of Philip Morris. He also owns Star TV Indonesia. This access to advertising, plus the political influence devolving from Murdoch's ownership of such a powerful medium, ensures that Philip Morris is strategically positioned to increase its market share through its liaison with Bentoel's subsidiary PT Tresno, which produces Marlboro cigarettes.


Little research has been carried out on employment conditions in the industry. Inside Indonesia featured an article by Melody Kemp in 1993 highlighting appalling working conditions in industry as a whole. In 1995 Tanzer, another researcher, writing about the traditional hand rolled technology of the industry, noted that women, who make up the bulk of the workforce, are expected to roll 'at least 325 cigarettes an hour - one every ten seconds on average'. It has also been recorded that child labour is used in the industry.

Indonesia's tobacco industry begs critical attention. For as the World Health Organisation (WHO) notes, reliable data regarding the number of Indonesian's who die from cancer is 'not available'. However WHO also estimates that 57,000 Indonesians die each year as a result of tobacco use. Certainly the Indonesian Health Department acknowledges there are 200,000 new cases of cancer each year. But only 3.2% of these people ever receive hospital care. Obviously the degree to which this cancer is tobacco related requires further study. But it is clear that by condoning the tobacco industry the government is effectively murdering far more Indonesians than they ever could by mere bullets.

Despite Suharto's political demise, Indonesia is still not a democracy, and Indonesian anti-tobacco activists still face an uphill battle against the industry. They desperately need increasing publicity and international pressure.

The recent substantial tiered price increases on cigarettes (determined by each company's production levels) have signalled at least a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. This move by the government suggests fiscal expediency rather than a desire to address the huge mortality rate from tobacco. Certainly industry analysts predict that the large tobacco companies will only benefit from this increase, with larger profit margins.

The big tobacco companies will also benefit from the removal of Tommy Suharto's lucrative BPPC clove monopoly, one of the 'reforms' the IMF has required. Certainly ending the Suharto family's profiteering can only be beneficial. But who gains otherwise? Surely not the clove farmers? They are unlikely to be paid the price for cloves which the tobacco barons paid to Tommy Suharto. Once again, it is more likely that the tobacco barons will be the recipients of this new, 'free' market.

No matter what political reform takes place elsewhere it is unlikely to affect the tobacco industry. The government's first priority is to resuscitate the economy. The tobacco industry is strategically important, and it is doubtful that the political and legislative actions being taken against the industry in Western countries will be implemented in Indonesia, at least in the short term.

Yet at the very least this is an opportune moment to increase taxes on cigarettes. This could further support subsidies on other more crucial consumer items. Certainly the industry can bear an increased tax burden and any loss of income.

In 1980, as Anthony Reid noted, Indonesian households 'spent more on tobacco than they did on clothing and footwear, on meat, or on medical and educational needs combined, and twice as much as they spent on festivals. The poorest households spent more on tobacco than they did on fish, meat, and eggs combined'.

If this pattern of expenditure has continued to this day it is not feasible to argue that Indonesian people are gaining economically simply by being employed by the industry. Their income could be more fruitfully directed towards building other more worthwhile sectors of the economy. Instead, Indonesians are paying for the tobacco industry with their lives, simply sustaining the billionaires who exploit them.

Addressing the injustices represented by the Indonesian tobacco industry offers a strategic opportunity for President Habibie to demonstrate his commitment to reform and to the health of his people.

Catherine Reynolds recently completed an Honours degree (First Class) in sociology at the University of New South Wales.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

Women do it tough

The economic crisis affects women badly. They are laid off first, yet have more responsibilities at home.


Charlene Darmadi

World Bank President James Wolfensohn has said: 'The Indonesian economic crisis has reached a point of life and death'. The impact of the crisis is greatest for those at the bottom. Women, the poorest of the poor, feel its influence everywhere: as workers, as consumers, as wives and mothers. If the known crisis has caused anxiety, how much more the unknown crisis still ahead.

Women workers were among the first to feel the crisis. Textile and garment factories, shoe factories, and the construction industry have been among the worst affected. With the exception of construction, most workers in these industries are female. Most workers laid off by factories unable to carry on are women. Even those not laid off are working shorter shifts, getting no overtime, and are getting paid late.


For a woman, losing her job has big consequences for herself and her family. For though people often consider women's wages to be secondary income compared with that of men, in reality their income is vital for the poorer households. The perception that women's wages are secondary and men are the main breadwinners is so common it actually influences factory managers to lay off the women before the men, especially if they engage in 'selective' lay-offs.

Even before the crisis, the wages women took home were barely enough to survive on. One study of women factory workers in North Jakarta showed that in mid-1997 many could only survive by going into debt. A 1994 study on women workers in the handcraft industry in Tasikmalaya, West Java, showed that most of the 304 respondents only earned Rp 250-500 (20 cents or so) a day. Sixty six percent of them used all their income to satisfy family needs, such as buying food and sending kids to school. If even in normal times women have difficulty meeting basic needs on the minimum wage, how will they manage in this crisis?

The government has responded to growing unemployment with big labour-intensive projects to provide a temporary job for those laid off. According to then-Labour Minister Abdul Latief, the program was urgent because the unemployed were likely to run out of savings within 3-6 months. But the projects usually involved heavy work designed for men, such as cleaning out storm drains in Jakarta, and so were of no help to women.

In Indonesia, household problems are a woman's problems. She holds the sole responsibility for the household budget and how to make it go the distance. That is why women were the first to feel the crisis when it erupted in January. As prices leapt up, baby milk powder among them, a group of mothers were among the first to take to the streets to protest in Jakarta. Karlina Leksono, a well-known woman who led the group 'Concerned Mothers' (Ibu Perduli) said that for impoverished kampung mothers the price increases were 'a critical matter of life and death'.


Inflation in January alone reached 6.88%. In cities like Surabaya and Denpasar it reached 9%. The crisis also touched pharmaceuticals. Since November 1997 the price of prescription drugs, both imported and local, has gone up between 75% and 200%. The popular traditional Chinese medicines have on average gone up 300%. Most worrying for the poor is that medicines in government community health centres may run out soon. The price rises are already enough to cause household stress, but if we remember that many households have a reduced income or have lost it altogether then the situation is even more critical.

More expensive medicines and a tendency to visit the doctor less often means that many people now have less access to health services. When this happens, increased health care tasks usually fall to the woman as wife and mother.

Women can of course apply various strategies to compensate for a reduced household income, for example by making food portions smaller. In Indonesia the woman often eats last, taking the left- overs after her husband and children have eaten. Such strategies may help the food to go around, but they have a direct effect on women's health.

When access to health services declines, those who suffer most are the poor, especially children and pregnant and breast-feeding mothers.


In general the correlation between fertility and women's employment is negative, which means that women who work have fewer children. The reverse is also true, so that during a crisis such as this when many women are unemployed, the birth rate will increase. The problem is made worse by the rising cost of contraceptives: up to five times or more.

Whereas the Bandung family planning clinic has been able to keep prices down somewhat, the situation is worse elsewhere. In Indramayu in West Java, for example, thousands of women have been forced to drop their family planning program because of the rising cost of contraceptives.

The Indramayu clinic head advises those unable to pay to use cheaper methods of contraceptives, such as coitus interruptus or condoms. These methods are certainly cheap but they are less reliable. They also take contraception out of the control of women and hand it over to men. The high price of contraceptives and high female unemployment could very well destroy the progress that family planning has made the last decade.

The picture looks even more worrying when we imagine the increased number of pregnant women who are not getting enough nutrition, and who have reduced access to affordable medical care. Such a situation will force up the mortality rate of babies and of mothers at childbirth. At the very least more babies will be born unhealthy.

According to the researcher Shiva: 'Complications due to pregnancy, premature birth, low birth weight and reduced life expectancy will occur if mothers do not get enough to eat. Anemia, the first consequence of malnutrition, will directly cause a rise in the percentage of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth'.

Will we see a rise in the number of uneducated and unhealthy children in the coming years as a result of this crisis?


What will be the effects of increased stress in the household? Since women control the household budget, it is to be expected that they might also become the focus of increased stress in the home. According to some scholars, the allocation of money is a prime cause of domestic conflict.

The women's activist Nadia has shown that there is a kind of vicious cycle in which the wife, who runs the household, continually asks for money from her husband, who may then become angry and bash her. Sometimes this cycle of violence can result in murder, as happened recently in Bandung where, as a result of a conflict over money, a husband stabbed his wife to death. Similar incidents have been reported elsewhere.

Unfortunately statistics on domestic violence are difficult to obtain in Indonesia, because the matter is not separated from other crimes and also because rape in marriage is not formally recognised.

Like it or not, women are expected to run the household and provide for its needs. In extreme circumstances women have been known to go into prostitution in order to be able to fulfill their domestic responsibilities.

Although the number of female sexual workers at Bandung's best known brothel area of Saritem has not increased as yet, very few of them now go home to their villages after work, because the number of customers at the brothels has declined to about 60%. In other words, although the number of prostitutes has apparently not increased, they are working longer hours.


This picture of the negative impact of the economic crisis on women demands urgent action from the government. Increased fertility, increased mortality rates for mothers and infants, decreased nutritional levels, and decreased access to education, all have national consequences. From a purely economic point of view, a healthy nation will save reserves by having to import less medicine.

The government ought urgently to:

Plan programs to provide temporary work for women as well as men. Pay attention to the shortage of medicines at health clinics. Subsidise medicines. Recognise the seriousness of domestic violence, separate it from other crimes in the law, and recognise and punish rape in marriage. Subsidise contraceptives and make them available to women at family planning clinics. Not allow children to lose access to education. School fees need to be cut during the crisis.

Charlene Darmadi is a researcher at Akatiga, a non- government organisation dedicated to researching social conditions in Indonesia. This and other reports are available for purchase from Akatiga: Jalan Raden Patah 28, Bandung 40132, Indonesia, tel/fx 022-250 2622, email akatiga@melsa.net.id. This report was compiled in April 1998. Young female workers A young woman factory worker in Jakarta was sacked recently because she took part in a strike demanding better conditions. Since becoming unemployed she has used her savings to pay the rent on her room. Right now her savings are almost spent. Friends help her buy food.

Most women we interviewed who were still working said they had changed their consumption pattern. Tuti, who works in a garment factory in Jakarta, used to drink a glass of milk every morning. Not any more. Before the crisis she used to buy Rp 5,000 (AU$3) worth of cosmetics a month. Not now. Her friend Ning, who works in the same factory, used to eat fish or chicken twice a week. Now she eats tofu every day.

Field notes, 28 February, 1998.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

Tommy's toys trashed

Suharto loved his son Tommy so much he helped him build an automobile industry. Blatant nepotism, that led to his own downfall. Is it now a thing of the past?


Ian Chalmers

One common target of the rioting mobs in May were the gleaming showrooms of the `Timor'. This new automobile was a joint venture between President Suharto's son Tommy and Korea's third-largest car maker, Kia Corporation. Clearly the attacks on Timor showrooms expressed popular outrage at the favouritism enjoyed by the president's children.

But the Timor case illustrates more than the struggle against the nepotism of the Suharto's years. The automotive industry in Indonesia has long been a proud symbol of economic nationalism. Tommy tapped into this nationalist sentiment when he sought support for the venture to produce a `National Car'.

He won some extraordinary privileges for his company. His business opponents complained loudly that the economy was run on connections to the powerful - economists called it patrimonialism - rather than on principles of economic efficiency. It could be that the collapse of the Timor venture will see the demise of this patrimonial pattern of state-business relations.


Elite industry

Cars are constantly growing in number and congest already crowded urban areas. Yet they are exorbitantly expensive in Indonesia, costing about three times what they would on the international market. Why, then, are there so many cars produced in this developing country?

One reason is that a great deal of prestige is associated with cars in Indonesia. The aspiring middle classes are quite prepared to go into debt to own this important status symbol.

Another is that it has been a standard bearer of economic nationalism. For almost half a century various governments have made strenuous efforts to promote an industry of little relevance to the mass of the population.

This basic policy orientation was set in the early years of independence. A major policy objective of political leaders in the 1950s and 1960s was to achieve economic self-reliance. Automobile production played a central part in this effort. This commitment persisted. During the 30 years of the New Order, dozens of decrees declared that soon there would be `a vehicle completely manufactured in Indonesia'.

These brave decrees would have been worthless, however, were they not supported by the private sector. The third and perhaps most compelling reason for the great interest in the industry is that it is highly profitable.

The list of those who have owned automobile importing agencies reads like a Who's Who of the modern business sector: Hasyim Ning, Liem Sioe Liong, Ibnu Sutowo, Willem Suryajaya, Probosutejo, Ang Kang Ho, Sjarnubi Said, Bob Hasan, and, more recently, President Suharto's children: Bambang, Tutut and Tommy.

These capitalists established a tight little club - an oligopoly that defended their interests and tried to prevent new entrants to the industry.

They also formed close ties with various government patrons, upon whom they came to rely for protection and access to valuable state contracts. As the industry expanded in the 1970s and 1980s this patrimonial pattern of government-business relations consolidated. Ironically, they frequently let fly with accusations of corruption and favouritism when capitalists new to the industry used political connections to gain a foothold.


Towards efficiency

During the 1990s the government introduced some important changes in industrial policy. It seemed the patrimonial pattern of state- business was in retreat. Declining oil revenues reduced the government's capacity, as patron, to provide for the needs of particular business clients. At the same time, the need to promote exports made the government more dependent on private sector initiatives.

A series of liberalisation decrees in the late 1980s reduced the protection offered to inefficient industries. In the automotive industry, policy orientation clearly shifted away from the nationalism of the past towards raising productive efficiency.

The Department of Industry came to rely on business for policy suggestions. The automotive producers associations, Gaikindo and Giamm, were centrally involved in drafting new decrees.

By the mid-1990s government automotive policy looked like it had made the transition from that typical of a patrimonial `soft state', subject to lobbying pressures by particular interest groups, to what political scientists call a `hard state', a state able to implement policies to benefit the economy generally despite opposition from certain pressure groups.


Enter Tommy

Initially, this trend made it difficult for observers to understand what happened next. When he first moved into business as a young man in the 1980s, Hutomo Mandala Putra, better known as `Tommy' Suharto, soon found himself the happy beneficiary of a number of concessions. Best known among them was the ill- conceived national clove purchasing monopoly, BPPC. But this concession paled into insignificance after the National Car policy was announced in February 1996.

The immediate background to Presidential Instruction (Inpres) number 2, which outlined the new policy, was impatience with how little the industry had actually achieved. Despite dozens of decrees over three decades urging more local production, manufacturers were still far from producing a local car. Even Astra's best selling van, the Kijang, had achieved little more than 50% local content. Most sedans had less than 25%. By contrast, Malaysia's Proton-Saga was fully produced inside the country after only twenty years, and had even begun to find export markets.

Inpres 2 set ambitious but quite fanciful goals for local production of a so-called national car. It would meet a domestic content target of 20% within the first year, 40% in the second, and 60% by the end of the third year.

Special tax immunities were to be given to companies that produced these national cars. Whereas other producers were required to pay duties of up to 100%, components for the national car could be imported free of duties and other taxes during the first three years. The tax breaks would allow these cars to be sold at about half the price of their competitors.

Remarkably enough, only one company was granted national car status under the terms of the decree. That's right, it was PT Timor Putra Nasional (PT Timor for short), owned by Tommy Suharto. Many believe he named it after East Timor for 'patriotic' reasons.

Tommy is a fanatical car rally-driver. But he had no experience in the automotive industry, and analysts were sceptical of his business acumen. Scepticism deepened when PT Timor gained a series of further concessions.

The Timor had been obliged to reach a target of 20% local content within the first year, yet it had no local assembly operation. Not to worry. In June 1996 the government allowed PT Timor to produce Indonesia's `national cars' entirely in Korea! A common joke at the time was that the president had a secret agenda - to turn South Korea into Indonesia's 28th province.

But sales flagged. Thousands of unsold cars stood rusting in warehouses on the wharves. In May 1997 the government instructed state departments and other agencies to purchase Timor sedans. Pressure was also brought to bear on large business conglomerates.

The company enjoyed windfall profits of millions of dollars, for the cars made in Korea were sold in Indonesia for three times their production costs. PT Timor had initially intended to use these profits to finance construction of a factory at Cikampek near Jakarta. But after two years of fanfare, the site of the much-acclaimed factory remained an empty paddock.

Suharto then ordered three state banks and cajoled twelve private banks to form a consortium to help the ailing venture. In August 1997 they agreed to extend a further US$690 million loan to build the factory. It was rumoured at the time that this money was 'borrowed' from the Reforestation Fund.

The widespread scepticism within business circles about mobnas turned to open opposition. It was now commonly said that mobnas really stood for mobil na'as, `calamity car'.


Some lessons

What, then, are we to make of this extraordinary tale of nepotism? And what does it tell us about the future role of the government in the economy?

Most obviously, it illustrates how Indonesia's economic development has opened the economy to international pressures. Kia's rivals, especially the Japanese firms, challenged the mobnas policy in the World Trade Organisation. The Indonesian government was for the first time forced to defend national economic policy in a global forum. Indonesia's appeal to the WTO was defeated.

Second, the case exposed the shortcomings of patrimonialism in organising the economy. The venture's close association with the president lost it the wider support it needed to succeed. Most people in the industry sympathised with the hapless Minister for Industry, Tunky Ariwibowo, who was forced to do an about-face and support the sort of policy he had once consistently opposed.

Third, the case demonstrates the need to engage organised business in any future industrial development scheme. Large conglomerates like Astra and Liem's Indomobil Group had strongly supported general industry policy in the 1980s and 1990s. Naturally they strongly opposed the special privileges their new rival had won. It was their refusal to lease assembly facilities to the Timor which effectively derailed its production plans, leading to the `28th province' fiasco in Korea.

Finally, the public has become more aware of how political symbols have been manipulated to defend elite business interests. For all its faults, the newcomer PT Timor exposed the fact that a tight oligopoly dominates the industry and conspires to keep prices high. The new entrant was able to force a hurried drop in prices, which fell in some cases by as much as 50%.

A leaner, more efficient industry will emerge from the crisis, one less reliant on patrimonialism for special favours and on nationalist rhetoric for political legitimacy.

Ian Chalmers teaches at Curtin University of Technology, Perth. He is the author of a study on the automotive industry, 'Konglomerasi: Negara dan modal dalam industri otomotif Indonesia' (Gramedia, 1996).

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

Who murdered the rupiah?

Not currency speculators but Indonesian and especially foreign investors with a chronic craving for US dollars destroyed the national economy.

Sritua Arief

Indonesia has always experienced a current account deficit in its balance of payments. This means more money always leaves the country than enters it. Between 1979 and 1996 the shortfalls totalled US$ 43.4 billion. The two biggest reasons for the deficit are repatriating foreign investment profits, and paying interest on foreign debts. In other words, foreign interests are draining the surplus out of Indonesia.

The current account measures money moving in and out of the country. It incorporates all exports, imports, payments on foreign loans, foreign investors sending back their profits, and so on. Year in year out, it is in deficit. So it doesn't contribute at all to national savings or to our foreign currency reserves.

The following tables show the state of the current account in 1995/96 and 1996/97, just before the monetary crisis.

Sources and uses of foreign capital funds:
Sources of funds 1995/96 (US$billion) 1996/97 (US$billion)
Direct foreign investment 5.4 6.5
Other private capital 4.5 6.2
Government foreign debt (mid- to long term) 5.7 5.4
Total 15.6 18.1
Uses of funds 1995/96 (US$billion) 1996/97 (US$billion)
Financing current account deficit 7.0 8.1
Repaying foreign debt 5.9 6.1
Adding to foreign currency reserves    2.7 3.9
Total 15.6 18.1

When we look at the figures, several conclusions spring easily to mind.

First. Our foreign currency reserves are highly dependent on getting new foreign loans, because the deficit stops us from accumulating foreign reserves freely. This means our reserves are effectively borrowed, not free as we should expect in a healthy economy.

Second. Just as in a business, all payments (income versus expenditure) must be balanced. This means that adding to our foreign reserves by means of debt in this way in fact represents money leaving the country. We call this capital flight, which is a bad thing. In other words, the capital flight committed by private parties in Indonesia (better called economic criminals) is paid for by government foreign debt.

This is surely a case of extraordinary stupidity, not to mention complete inhumanity. Private wealth overseas grows at the expense of government debt, ultimately paid for by the ordinary people of Indonesia, who have no means of enjoying its benefits.

Now back to our question. What caused the collapse of the rupiah against the US dollar? It was caused by a gross imbalance between the value of total exports including oil and gas, and the value of total imports. Not only are imports larger, they have also been growing at a faster rate than exports. This is what causes the current account deficit.

Exporting supplies us with foreign currency, while importing demands it back again. Since both are normally done in US dollars, the excess of demand over supply makes the value of the US dollar grow against the value of the Indonesian rupiah.

Moreover, export and import practices in Indonesia are full of manipulative practices, in which exports are underinvoiced and imports are overinvoiced. The government has always overlooked such practices, because of the constant conspiracies between politics and business (remember the way Coordinating Minister Sudomo backed corrupt businessman Eddy Tansil?).

So who caused this excessive demand for foreign currency? They fall into three categories: * Importers (both foreign and national), foreign investors and foreign creditors. They want foreign currency to pay for their imports, to send their profits back overseas, and to pay the interest on (private and government) foreign debt. * Those who repay principal on their foreign debt. * Those committing capital flight - both businesses and individuals.

Ironically, all these people causing excessive demand for foreign currencies share the same perception of uncertainty, namely that the Republic of Indonesia may become financially insolvent due to its chronic current account deficit. Indeed the perception is strengthened by the reality that the government has always paid back old debts with new loans, whose value is less than that of the old. As a result, the Republic constantly transfers more money out of the country than enters it. Indonesia suffers from what is known as Fisher's Paradox, which says that the more foreign debt you repay, the bigger the debt you accumulate.

Add to that the political uncertainty. All these sources of uncertainty come from within the country, not from overseas. I can't see that there has been a conspiracy by foreign currency speculators such as George Soros, who simply have a good nose for opportunity. We should rather blame ourselves for mismanagement and immorality.

But there is a conspiracy, and a much more dangerous one than George Soros. That is the one concocted by foreign interests through the IMF and the World Bank who are, by the latest count, prepared to give us loans of up to US$49 billion. Most of this debt will be used to pay for the current account deficit. That is, most of it will be used to allow foreigners to import goods and services, repatriate their profits, and repay their foreign loans.

In other words, the debt will be enjoyed by people overseas, but the burden of it will be born by the people of Indonesia. The debt will be used once again to pay for our dependency on imports from overseas. It's truly absurd for us to say 'thank you very much' to the IMF, the World Bank, and other members of this plot.

The political conspiracy means that, first, overseas interests will now determine our economic and social policy and even our power structure. Second, control over our foreign currency reserves by foreigners will be even greater than before. Third, control over Indonesian economic resources by foreigners will become even more intensive.

This truly is national policy-making at its least heroic. We will be under the heel of foreigners as if we were a colony.

Allow me herewith to declare: heroism has died among the Indonesian power elite and the intellectuals who support them. We will now witness the collapse of the Indonesian nation state. The people will not forgive the power elite for this. Do not be surprised if in the near future a history book is published with the title: Indonesia, the fall of a nation.

Dr Sritua Arief is an Indonesian economist. He obtained his doctorate at Hull University in 1979, and presently teaches in the Management School of the University of Northern Malaysia.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

Orphans no more

The biggest demonstration in May took place not in Jakarta, but hundreds of kilometres away in Yogyakarta. It was almost a rebirth.

Dwi Marianto 

On Tuesday afternoon, 19 May 1998, the atmosphere in Yogyakarta was already tense. Impatience to meet together with Sultan Hamengkubuwono X at his palace, the kraton, mixed with rumours that a large number of rioters had been brought in from outside, could be felt on campuses and in the shopping centres. Only a few days earlier we had seen shooting, burning, looting and chaos in Jakarta, Solo, and other cities. The rapes of Chinese women had not yet been widely publicised.

Every campus had an aid post to look after the possible victims of violence. Intimidation was in the air. People remembered how Mozes Gatotkaca was killed, and how Pito was shot in the leg by police. Students made posters urging people not to go to demonstrations on their own, and to tell their friends where they were going.

There were rumours of unknown persons looking to eliminate campus activists. People knew the military had used thugs in the past to shut up activists who threatened Suharto's regime. Every one believed them, because the reports of the disappeared, and of others shot and killed, were not mere fantasy.

Students Nevertheless, there was courage enough to make banners and posters criticising a New Order that had looted and brought suffering to the people for over 30 years. On all the campuses of Yogyakarta's universities, especially at Gajah Mada, at the Islamic university IAIN and at the Indonesian Art Institute ISI, students were planning how to conduct the action of 20 May 1998, and how to keep it peaceful.

The atmosphere on the morning of the next day, Wednesday (Kliwon on the Javanese calendar), was gripping. Groups of high school students were hanging around the streets. Others, wearing demonstrators' garb, rode their motorbikes along the main streets.

Amien Rais supporters from the Muhammadiyah high school came out wearing green. People were very impressed with Amien Rais' announced plan to bring a million people onto the streets in Jakarta, 500 kilometres to the northwest. Abri had opposed that plan, ostensibly to avoid bloodshed. Which could easily have happened, because some people were very angry and determined. The soldiers, too, had become edgy.

At 8:30am, university students, high school students, as well as ordinary Yogyakarta citizens started streaming towards the kraton from various directions. They were so solid and compact together. Loathing for Suharto united them, or perhaps it was a reaction against the way the authorities had manipulated the law throughout the New Order.

By 9:00am the streets were full of students, all wearing something to show what institution they were from. Some cars had loudspeakers fitted. Many people wore witty anti-Suharto shirts and attracted attention to themselves in order to ignite the spirit of Reformation.

Banners called for Suharto to be tried and hung were everywhere. Others said 'Pro-Reformation', and 'Yogyakarta is against rioting'. Lots wore T-shirts with Megawati's picture or carried a poster of her father Bung Karno. Members of 'Faithful Supporters of Mrs Megawati' (Psim) carried blue and white flags. People from the Islamic party PPP wore green head bands or T- shirts with the green star.

Carnival Security guards from the PPP, from Nahdatul Ulama, and from Megawati's PDI worked together to keep things peaceful, all in their impressive uniforms. Yet none of them behaved as if they were engaged in a confrontation. It was a carnival atmosphere.

Calls not to engage in violence rang out constantly. From time to time activists would burst into a yell demanding Suharto's resignation. Insults at Suharto's expense became popular entertainment.

Songs were heard whose tunes everyone knew but whose words had been changed. So the song 'Planting corn' was changed to: 'Hang him, hang him, hang that Suharto, hang that Suharto at the Flower Market' (that's Yogya's brothel district). Not a pretty sentiment perhaps, but there was lots of creativity. Some were humorous, others satirical, threatening or serious.

The river of humanity edged closer to the kraton. A strong feeling of solidarity made the heat of the sun easy to bear. Beside the road, crowds cheered on the masses on the street. Many gave them drinks, peppermints, or snacks for free. Among the crowd occasionally a poster would pop up showing Suharto with a Hitler moustache.

Shops, stalls, banks, traders, all stopped their business. They all wanted to show their sympathy for what the students had been fighting for for so long.

At the corner just before entering the large field (alun- alun) in front of the kraton a huge banner was draped from the central post office reading: 'Yogya is ready to become the capital'. Whoever had the courage to climb up to hang that there? Certainly not a postman.

Post Office employees just watched passively from the second floor of their building. In their hearts they certainly felt sympathetic towards the reformist ranks flooding the streets below, but at that time they were still too afraid even to wave at them. They were bound to Golkar and the civil service union Korpri. And they had enjoyed the New Order.

Some activists stood on their car roof and shouted at them: 'Come on down, the Titanic is sinking'. The film Titanic had been showing at the cinemas for weeks, and everyone knew the story. In the alun-alun there were lots of stalls and kiosks, because it was the Sekaten ceremony. But none of them were damaged. Everyone restrained themselves.

Before the kraton stage people waited patiently for the sultan. In the meantime all kinds of groups brought entertainment: The Malioboro Street Singers, the Kampung Group, the Untung Basuki Music Group. Students organised the whole show. Didik Nini Thowok performed a dance.

Butet Kertaredjasa presented a parody of Suharto's voice, just as Suharto would always appear in public telling people what to do. Volunteers from various hospitals were on hand in case of need. The joy of a big party and the determination of struggle were all mixed into one.

Sultan Ceremonial guards from the kraton were there in their finery. They had muskets without bullets. Quite a contrast with the PPP and PDI security guards in their military-style uniforms, but their ancient cut of clothes helped create a special atmosphere in which everyone put aside the interests of their own group to listen to the voice of the people that was about to be heard.

Hamengkubuwono X and his queen Hemas appeared together with Yogyakarta's second sultan, Paku Alam VIII. Then the declaration (maklumat) each had prepared was read out.

In his address, Sultan Hamengkubuwono criticised the misuse of language by the power holder merely to perpetuate their power and to keep the people down. He said those in power far too readily called others with a different viewpoint a rebel (mbalelo), merely in order to strike them down.

The sultan criticised the constant calls on the people to be patient, to be obedient, polite and so on, while the regime itself deliberately smashed any feelings of shame it might have had and gave itself over to greed.

Then the sultan said those who were in the wrong should own up and resign. Hearing this veiled denouncement everyone knew who was intended: no one other than the Dasamuka of the New Order. (Dasamuka is a power-hungry king in the shadow puppet theatre who is repaid with a horrible death). A tremendous applause rose up.

This was only the second maklumat the sultan of Yogyakarta had ever made. The first was by his father, Hamengkubuwono IX, on 5 September 1945, which declared that the Yogyakarta sultanate was entering the Republic of Indonesia. With this declaration of 20 May 1998, Hamengkubuwono declared he had sided with the people. He no longer wanted the people to be an object of arbitrary power. The people had to be defended. The misuse of power had to be stopped.

The crowd of hundreds of thousands was so orderly as they listened. When the sultan had finished, they broke up and quietly went home or back to their campus or office. Most had to walk, because it was impossible to move a vehicle.

During the New Order, most of the Indonesian people felt as if they had become orphans. Sharp weapons and the stigma of subversion kept them quiet. Their ears were only permitted to hear the voice of the power holder. Their dreams could only be dreams of aeroplanes. All their goods, their land, and even their bodies were looted.

The declaration by Sultan Hamengkubuwono X on 20 May 1998 was not very long. It only had four points, urging all the people to support reformation, and calling on everyone to be sensitive to and to defend the people.

Short as it was, it was enough to make the people feel they were no longer orphans. The sultan and the kraton were their father and their mother, who were able to hear their sobs, to struggle with them, and always to urge them never to lose hope.

M Dwi Marianto (fax +62-274-371 233) is a PhD graduate from the University of Wollongong, now teaching at the Indonesian Art Institute of Yogyakarta, ISI.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

Rape is rape

A new movement resists the terror and expresses solidarity with the Chinese Indonesian women who were raped in Jakarta in May.

Sandyawan Sumardi

About 11:30am I saw some people in the crowd stopping a car. They forced the passengers to get out, and then dragged two girls out of the car. They took off the girls' clothes and pack-raped them. The two girls tried to fight back, but in vain (Eyewitness, Muara Angke, 14 May, 1998).

This is only one of hundreds of rapes that happened during the Jakarta riots in May 1998. After the riots came the statements denying the rapes had occurred. Well, the answer is clear: they did.

After the two girls managed to get away from the savage rapists, I came to them and embraced them. They begged me to help them find a safe way home. Since I live in that district, I knew a shortcut to the main road. At the Cengkareng corner, I saw several dead women, naked, their faces covered with newspapers. They must have been raped, for I could see dried blood around their vaginas, swarming with flies. After helping the two girls home, I returned the same way. The corpses at the corner were gone. Where were they? Who took them? (Same eyewitness).

Members of the Volunteer Team for Humanity ('Tim Relawan'), who were being contacted by numerous victims and eyewitnesses, repeatedly received warnings and threats to stop 'listening to' and 'helping' the victims.


In this country, even in the midst of the spirit of 'reformation', to tell about and listen with complete sympathy to the victims of mass rapes was regarded as dangerous.

A single act of rape is barbaric. Hundreds of rapes, all with similar brutal modus operandi, is organised barbarism on a massive scale. The modus operandi were similar to those used to instigate the riots at the same time.

Rape is rape. It destroys the woman's life as a part of society. Rape is not acceptable for anyone, neither Chinese nor Javanese nor Dayak nor Irianese. Any government in this country with a conscience cannot avoid the urgent agenda to repair this total destruction.

For the victims, the rapes destroyed their lives. But even for the eyewitnesses, they have become unbearable memories.

Ever since I saw it, I have been deeply distressed. Whenever I close my eyes, I see the corpses of those women before my eyes. I feel very depressed. Since I cannot bear my own feelings of anxiety and fear, I decided to go home to my village (Same eyewitness)

For many eyewitnesses, the border between 'seeing' and 'experiencing' is obscured, and so is the difference between 'self' and 'victim'.

After accidentally seeing a Chinese girl raped by many people, my little sister has been frightened and stressed. She talks incoherently and her body trembles whenever anyone comes near her. For two weeks she was in hospital. I almost wonder whether she only saw someone being raped or if she herself was also raped. (Story from a girl's sibling, June 1998).

The extent of the rapes is no fantasy. A pattern of similarities emerges that indicates strongly that the mass rapes involved a network, planners and executors in a systematic and organised way.

After hard work and under huge pressure of threats and terror, we present our data. It is based only on the reports of victims and eyewitnesses, not on rumour or the newspapers. In order to respect and safeguard them, their exact identities have been kept confidential.

Whereas the riot, the massive destruction and burning in May 1998 happened in all areas of Jakarta, the rapes only happened in West Jakarta, North Jakarta, and other areas where many Chinese live and work. The rapes and the riots happened at the same time. The patterns of the rapes were very similar to those used in the riot. The similarity suggests there must be a relationship between the two.

A number of unknown persons entered the shop-house and began looting it. Others among them stripped R naked and then forced her to watch her two younger sisters being raped. After raping them, they threw the two girls down to the ground floor, which was already on fire. They died, but R survived because some people came to help her. (Incident on 14 May 14, 1998, as told by the family of R, L, and M).

Not locals

The actors in these incidents were of unknown origin, different from the locals in that part of the city. On several occasions victims survived because other locals came to help.

On 13 May the crowds came from three directions. Four youths on motorcycles gave the order: 'Burn, charge!' and a group of shabbily dressed youths began to break things. The victim came down from an upper floor as their shop-house was being wrecked and looted. Among the youths someone yelled 'bloody Chinese, they're the ruin of this nation', and he grabbed the woman and her little girl and tried to rip off her clothes. Among the four youths on motorcycles one yelled out: 'Separate the girls and take them to the school'. The victims escaped from the attempted rape because locals came and rescued them. (Volunteer Team documentation based on victim and eyewitness accounts).

In all, twenty of the victims died. Most of the others are in a serious physical and psychological condition. We have confidential reports and stories up until 3 July 1998 of 168 victims of pack rape or other sexual abuse. Of these, 152 are from Jakarta and environs, while 16 are from Solo, Medan, Palembang, and Surabaya. This is by no means the full total of victims, but only those who have reported to us.

These statistics are just a numerical abstraction. They do not reveal the vicious shouting, the threats and terror, the torture of rape, the horrible way of dying, the running blood, the wrecked bodies and ruined dignity, the destruction of a future and of hope, nor the hot tears and the unbearable silence of memory.

And just when many volunteers began to extend their sympathy, their help and a listening ear to lighten the burden of the victims, those volunteers were pursued by terror and threats. How then will we find justice and truth in this country? The terror came to the victims and their families, to many other citizens of Chinese descent, to nurses and doctors who cared for them, and to the volunteers themselves.

That the very search for truth has become the target of terror and threats shows clearer than anything just how real the destruction of our common life has become. It shows how the change in political leadership on 21 May 1998 was just a 'forced drama', performed on the surface of our political life. Deep below the political turbulence we still find the old pattern of terror and threats: brutal, systematic, violent, using racketeers and gangsters, the military and hired thugs, paid with money and weapons.

This movement to look for victims - it must stop. If you carry it on, you will know the result. Remember friend, you have a family. If you love yourself or your family, you have to do as I say. Watch out, I'm not kidding! (Extract from an anonymous letter to the volunteers, June 1998).


Is a grenade not enough? I know where your children go to school, I know what uniform they wear, what time they go to school and what time they come home. (Anonymous telephone caller to a volunteer, June 1998, after a live grenade was found in the Volunteer Team's front yard).

But in the face of all these threats, a counter movement is emerging. Since the riots and the rapes, more and more people feel it is now urgent to expose the network of architects and actors behind it all. These people come from many backgrounds: from different religions, ages, ethnicity and social status. They have one goal, to disclose who planned and executed the riots and the rapes.

Common life

The exposure of this network becomes the key to restoring our common life. Whether those who are supposed to guard the peace will help us or not, we the people will work harder to protect each other while helping the victims.

The network of the think tanks and actors of the rapes cannot be separated from those of the riots in May 1998. The demolition, the burning down, and the rape are different elements of the same systematic and organised acts.

I am not an intelligence agent, but I am a commander who instigated the riot. I recruited my 60 men from various armed forces units. I could easily rape these women (pointing his finger toward three Chinese girls). Killing you is easy... (Remark made by an unidentified person who attended a meeting of the Volunteer Team in Central Jakarta, June 1998),

Certain groups had already hatched this systematic plan much earlier:

Long before the riot, a well-built man called by. He also visited the poor housing areas around Pantai Indah Kapuk estate. At first he just became acquainted with the youths and chatted with them. Then the unidentified man treated them to food, drinks and smokes, so they became good friends. He then told them: 'If you guys like it, pretty soon you will have expensive things, and you can fuck those Chinese women you never dared to touch!' (Some eyewitnesses, June 1998)

To all of you in government, you have a special interest in this tragedy, precisely because you think of yourselves as managers of our common life in this nation-state. More and more people are waiting for your significant help in uncovering the network behind the rapes and the massive destruction.

If not, please do not blame us if more and more people believe that many 'government' and 'security' elements are of no use at all. Or even that they do function but that they gave their blessing or even collaborated in the tragedies.

Sandyawan Sumardi, SJ, is the secretary of the Volunteer Team for Humanity ('Tim Relawan untuk Kemanusiaan'). Extracted from a report on Jakarta available from the team at: Jalan Arus Dalam 1, Rt001/Rw012, Cawang, Dewi Sartika, Jakarta 13630, Indonesia, tel/fax +62-21-809 4531, email galih@indo.net.id.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998

The morning after...

Students toppled Suharto. Why could they not agree to topple Habibie as well? A foreign observer reveals his field notes for the day after Suharto resigned.

Loren Ryter

Events are taking a turn toward the dirty, especially at parliament house (DPR). Forces under the orbit of Lt-Gen Prabowo, commander of the Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad), were brought in to confront the students, and were allowed to do so by Kostrad. In the midnight hours, the troops moved in and cleared out the students.

Around 11 am today, 22 May, I got a call from 'M' saying an Islamic crowd from the Tanjung Priok harbour area would 'be deployed' after Friday prayers. Note that people talk of these sort of 'youth' actions in terms of turunkan, to deploy. 'Y' confirmed this was going to happen. So the word had already spread widely. I headed for the DPR.

Sure enough, right after Friday prayers the crowd started filing in from the mosque. They were carrying banners that read 'Support Habibie, Raise High the Constitution', and their head bands read 'Constitutional Reform'. Both had been professionally printed and it is unlikely they could have been prepared within the 24 hours since Habibie was inaugurated. This would have been planned in advance. 'Reform', by the way, seems to have already taken the place of the catch-all blah of 'Pancasila'.

They were also carrying large white on black banners with Islamic writing, green banners, and hand written banners that said things like 'Constitutional Reform Yes, Anarchy No...'. There were a few flags bearing a yellow crescent and star in a black field on a green banner.

They succeeded in raising three of these 'Support Habibie' banners up the flag pole. They were fully confrontational, and well organised. There were women, mostly wearing jilbab, the Islamic head dress, as well as men. Several older Islamic teachers (kiai) were giving commands through bullhorn loudspeakers. There were also a fair number of obvious thugs (preman) in the crowd, stocky guys in ragged T-shirts that didn't exactly look like devout Muslims.


The students were outnumbered in the morning and had been forming rows behind the raffia string they had put up around the front of the stairs, cutting off access to the podium. Since the journalists were all on the stairs, and the line was thin, the stairs became a target of conquest - aiming to get the attention of the cameras and the higher ground. Many of the newcomers were provoking and yelling at the students.

Meanwhile, they were using all kinds of Islamic symbols. Some were holding up one finger (PPP), and they were singing the inspirational Islamic Sholawat Badriah. This gave new significance to the Sholawat Badriah sung the previous Wednesday, likely by some of the same group.

One guy in plainclothes (preman) was already on the steps - that is, behind student lines - before they came, and he began leading them in singing Sholawat Badriah. At one point a guy in a khaki civil service uniform standing behind the student lines on the stairs tried to calm them down with a loudspeaker, shouting Allahu Akbar, but that didn't seem to work.

Later in the afternoon some Islamic youth and student groups mostly affiliated with Nahdatul Ulama (PMII, IPNU, IPPNU and some others) came out in support of the students, and there was a Nahdatul Ulama flag among the students. They also tried to lead a round of Sholawat Badriah, but it wasn't very popular among the students - perhaps conscious that it was being used by the other group. The students prefer to sing nationalist songs like Indonesia Raya.

It is fortunate that these Islamic youth groups joined in support of 'Reject Habibie', or this could have shaped into an Islam-vs-non-Islam conflict. However, many Islamic students were very upset - and several brought to tears - by the whole affair.

Eventually the 'pro-Habibie' group broke through the student barricades and swarmed up the steps, forcing me to the side. Someone climbed up a pole and took down the banner that said 'Suharto and Habibie are a single packet, both must step down', and put up a 'Support Habibie' banner.


Meanwhile, trapped behind the lines, I experienced a fair deal of hostility. One guy started yelling 'Islam! Islam!' at me. When I answered in Indonesian that 'as it happens I am not Islamic but I've never had a problem with Islamic people', he started to say 'don't colonise our country!', 'Go home!', and 'Go to hell Bill Clinton!'. He was poking me hard on the chest. I said calmly that I was only trying to document what was happening here. At which point an older guy intervened and said 'Don't insult the journalist'. That calmed him down.

Then I went up to a few guys wearing 'Spiritual Reform' T- shirts, and was going to ask them why they supported Habibie, but one of them was very hostile and adrenaline-pumped. I kind of calmed him down, and said if you don't want to talk it is up to you, again helped by an older guy.

I asked him why he supported Habibie, and he said 'Islam! Islam! That's all'. This country is 90% Islamic, he told me. There are non-Islam who want to be president, but they have to be Islam. So, but there are many, many people who are also Islam, I replied. Why does it have to be Habibie? At first, no comment. Then he said if Habibie wanted to be corrupt, he could be corrupt because he ran the aircraft company, but he is clean. (Not 'cause his businesses always fail, i guessed). The older guy seemed to be a little bit more savvy, and said they supported Habibie because he supports the 'little people'.

According to a student from the Islamic missionary college Sekolah Tinggi Dakwa Islam Jakarta, which was part of the group and wearing green jackets, some of the other groups present included Ummat Islam Banten, Majelis Taklim from Banten and from Bogor, and people from Tanjung Priok, including LP3E.

Later on an entire column of black-clad figures who looked like the brawlers we call jago, with black uniforms including name tags and logos and wearing turbans, marched in and joined the group. They were from Tanjung Priok, Sekolah Pendidikan At Islam. Later 'A' and 'Y' both denied there were people from Majelis Taklim there. 'Y' claims that the preman were from Jalan Pramuka, and that he knew some of them.

(Kompas daily the next day printed that in the crowd were Sumargono, chairman of the Islamic group Kisdi and member of the People's Assembly MPR, as well as Fadly Zon, a younger Islamic intellectual, and Andreanto of the Islamic NGO Humanika. Also present as a leader was Toto Tasmara, who is according to 'J' a director of Tommy Suharto's group Humpuss).

'M' suspected that Eggy Sudjana, from the Islamic think tank Cides, was also involved. And that Sekolah Tinggi Dakwa Islam is underneath Kisdi. She knows members of Kisdi and thus avoided that group at the DPR and joined the National Front, which marched in behind its own banner after the 'Support Habibie' group had retreated.

'R' believes that several of these groups are affiliated with Dewan Dakwa Islam Indonesia (DDII), which supports an Islamic state.


Late tonight word spread that Prabowo and his gang (Jakarta Area Commander Syafrie and the elite forces Kopassus Commander Maj-Gen Muchdi, and one other) had been sacked. Armed Forces Commander Wiranto moved Prabowo to become commander of the armed forces staff college in Bandung.

Word was already out by early afternoon, and a friend was desperately trying to figure out what was going on with the 'Habibie supporters' affair, thinking Prabowo had already been decommissioned. Perhaps this was his goodbye action? A way to embarrass Wiranto and Habibie? Did Wiranto sack them unilaterally or did Habibie agree to it? One can only speculate.

At midnight we received word that the military had moved in on the students, beating them with sticks. They were apparently evacuated on several buses and brought to Atmajaya University campus, 'guarded' by marines tanks, at the students 'own request'. The reason given was that the DPR building was to be renovated. (This after one minister said that there was no money to hold a special session of the People's Assembly).

Wiranto has called on the students to return to their studies and stop demonstrating. Students today were confused and demoralised by their relatively small numbers (perhaps 3000). They were trying to get students to chant: 'One command, one struggle' (this was also a slogan of SMID, affiliated with the outlawed party PRD), but the fact is they are poorly coordinated and not by and large disciplined activists.

They have no true militants and many of them are particularly young and not savvy. The media broadcast some of their comments about Habibie's cabinet appointments. They were favourable about some of them, showing that they weren't clear in their opposition to the entire systematic charade and could still praise cosmetic positive changes.

It also became clearer that the largest force of anti-Suharto activists had been mobilised by Islamic groups mainly to get Suharto out of the way, but not particularly interested in democratic institutions.

Amien Rais, before a large group of students belonging to the Islamic activist alliance Kammi today, said he was going to be Habibie's 'sparring partner', that he was going to give Habibie six months, and that he was willing to be Indonesia's fourth president. This is looking like somewhat of a setup: either we get Habibie till 2002 or we get Amien, through reformed election laws which will benefit him - most likely also without significant institutional change.

Unless the students can regroup and get other elements of society behind them, there will be a crackdown on activists that don't fall in line behind Habibie.

Loren Ryter is a PhD candidate doing research in Jakarta. This report was compiled on 22 May 1998.

Inside Indonesia 56: Oct-Dec 1998
Page 1 of 2

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