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A purely analytical perception...


INDONESIA

A STUDY IN NEPOTISM

 

Continued from page 6

CONTROLLING THE GAME

But with an election coming up Suharto could name names and he announced that the Democratic Order Movement, which in Indonesian, is an acronym for god, was planning to disrupt things around the time that people would be voting. Thus, for the foreseeable future, police have banned "mass gatherings" . "In accordance with the law, it is forbidden for community groups to have street protests as a regulation issued by the Interior Minister says demonstrations are forbidden..., The security forces will take firm action in accordance with the law against those who undertake street protests...". When prompted for more detail about this sinister sounding organization and whether or not this wasn’t just a convenient way of declaring "martial law" by calling it something else, a senior government official indicated that they (the Government) had uncovered documents that would convince the population of the enormous danger that this group posed. When the official was asked to show reporters the documents he was referring to, he started mumbling incoherent citations, but most amazingly of all, his nose started grow longer, right in front of his stunned audience.

Although, that government official was not convincing, circulars have begun appearing in the capital offering free rice at the parliament building during the election. Edward Aritonany, a Jakarta police spokesman indicated that he had, "checked with the parliamentary secretariat and they have not issued a circular saying they would give out free rice. So I hope the community will not trust these pamphlets bearing the MPR logo (People’s Consultative Assembly). Hey maybe the guy with the elongated nose was telling the truth, this is one great idea, picture the scene as these starving Indonesian’s trample the legislature and in the stampede, maybe some of the candidates will disappear.

Suharto had obviously read about Clinton’s popularity rising substantially after he it appeared that he was guilty of lying under oath and thought that this was a capital idea. In stiffing the pot, Suharto named a new chief of his military that was more familiar with plots from unnamed sources. He indicated that there were very few people in the world that had studied this subject in war school and that General Wiranto was far more experienced in this arcane subject then the man he was replacing, General Feisal Tanjung. This move also helped the chances of getting Suharto’s highly inferior choice for vice president, Jusuf Habibie, a man that could make the current state of affairs in Indonesia seem lavish is some of his ideas were allowed to be put into play.

 

SOMETIMES KIDS SAY THE FUNNIEST THINGS

But Suharto had a lot of other ideas that he thought would save the day. His gifted children had noted that "Currency Boards", a method of loosely tying one currency to another while holding down the government’s issuance money by requiring hard reserves, had been successful in propping up weak currencies in other countries, notably Argentina. This, the gifted ones argued was a capital idea because, we will then be able to use the IMF funding to buy back our worthless Rupiah and the family can sell our own Rupiahs to the government for dollars. We then move the dollars offshore and move to Malaysia and live happily ever after. We, essentially are too big for our own country.

As agreed under the IMF loan, Suharto got rid of the cartels as promised but the reappeared in another guise. Take the example of Indonesia’s plywood export industry which at over $4 billion in volume is the worlds biggest. Every facet of it was controlled by presidential confidant, Mohamad, "Bob" Hasan, and plywood could not leave the country unless a bounty was paid to Bob. Well, Suharto and Bob got together when the IMF broke up the tidy little arrangement and they came up with a new angle, why not create an association which everyone has to pay dues to at the rate of $5 for each meter of plywood exported. In gross volume, they would even come a little ahead of where they were before and with a name like the "statistical research board", who would even suspect what was going on. Bob owns a company, Apkindo, which is in the shipping business and as an addendum to the associations dues, it was made a requirement that all plywood leaving Indonesia, goes on one of Bob’s ships. Bully for Bob.

Indonesia’s prime apologist, IMF head, Michel Camdessus upon hearing Suharto’s latest insanity, picked up the phone and told him all bets were off if he went ahead with his latest concoction. IMF money was not going to be used to bail out the greed sycophants that surrounded the head of Indonesia. "The failure of a currency board would completely undermine credibility and policymaking, and seriously damage the country’s growth prospects," He added that "In the present circumstances ... if a currency board proposal were adopted, we would not be able to recommend to the IMF Board the continuation of the current program because of the risks to the Indonesian economy. This would be a very unfortunate development, as it would shrink even further the reserve basis for the currency board and further undermine its very slim chance of success." Camdessus was also painfully aware that if Suharto slipped this superficially innocent move through undetected, the IMF had probably breathed it last. Even Madeleine Albright attempted to be remembered by posterity with the statement; "The risks are real. Further tremors are possible." Well! That seems to say it all.

Suharto’s renewed intransigence with the IMF caused the limited revival of the Rupiah to again collapse abetted by the riots in the cities, including the torching of ten churches by angry mobs and the fires on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. East Java Police gave as sign of things to come when the warned the rioters that they ran the risk of being shot on sight Inter-city transportation has literally come to a halt as bus drivers feared for their own safety entering riot torn areas. Additionally, with no spare bus parts available, they we doubly concerned that once they had gotten into an area where there was turmoil, they couldn’t leave.

Indonesia committed a medium sized "no no" when they began subsidizing wheat , flour, sugar and soybeans, contrary to their IMF agreement, by giving a favorable conversion rates to importers. This was just another in a long series of violations by the Indonesian Government and caused Finance Minster Mar’ie Muhammad to confidently predict that the IMF would disburse the next traunche of $3 billion on schedule. In an attempt of to "shake down" the IMF, he indicated that any delay would affect investor confidence in Indonesia and "have a negative impact on efforts to strengthen and to stabilize currencies in Southeast Asia."

Bad mistake Minister Muhammad, the IMF determined to delay their next payment for a least a month to see if things straighten out and the a Congressional Committee in the United States approved a bill the would stop any American payments until Suharto straightened out his act. And anyway, Suharto indicted that after all of the monkeying around, that complying with the IMF’s terms would be violation of country’s constitution, which he indicates is based on "family values". We are certainly aware of Suharto’s feelings about family but if everyone in Indonesia was as generous with the country’s assets as Suharto has been, we would certainly have no need for IMF assistance. Suharto is setting the stage for a showdown with the IMF in which he believes he can win even with intransigence because he does not think that the other countries of the world can afford to have Indonesia in a state of turmoil and revolution. This is certainly high stakes poker when you realize that the president has pushed the envelope to the degree where he could wind up paying for his bet with his life.

In recent clashes with police, five people have already died in riots over skyrocketing prices of basic commodities or their total unavailability. In a recent speech to the governors of all of the 27 provinces, Yogie Memet, Interior Minister stated, "The dramatic rise in the price of the nine basic commodities (20) needed by the community and the disappearance of these from the markets has become a very sensitive problem this can shake the people’s economy". He went on to say that; "The people who feel most disturbed and bothered are the governors who I have just met." Now we have people’s shops being torched, no food for the children, a currency that won’t buy anything, fires raging of control giving off a haze that has sickened a good part of the population and churches being razed and this moron thinks that the governors who are living in their palaces getting three squares a day and are totally insulated from what is going on are doing more worrying that the populace. Welcome to Indonesia.

In one of the really bizarre occurrences yet, in this Alice in Wonderland country, the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) seems to be going ahead with a law suit against Indonesian newspapers and television because they had inferred that many of the people that were conveniently vanishing during recent campus food and anti-government riots had vanished courtesy of the military. The disappearances seemed to have started when an older student leader by the name of Lustrilanang escaped to the Netherlands after he had announced that the military had "abducted, tortured and threatened him with death if he spoke out." (21) In this dictatorship, it is at least refreshing that the army considers the act of filing law suits instead of making even more people vanish. On the hand, if they had to vanish the enter media industry, the people may suspect something in time.

INDONSIAN ENDNOTES

 

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