After months of street turmoil and parliamentary drama, Indonesia returned to relative calm with the removal of Abdurrahman Wahid from the presidency last month. His tumultuous 21-month rule was marked by moves to open up political freedom in the world’s fourth most populous Muslim country.
Indonesian president Abdur Rahman Wahid raised eyebrows on December 4 when he told his new economic affairs commission that Israel had agreed to invest $200 million in Indonesia.
Indonesian national police chief General Rusmanhadi announced the beginning of a new six-month offensive against Islamic rebels in Ache Sumatra on August 5.
Indonesia and Malaysia have many similarities. Each has a predominantly Muslim population. Indonesia has been under a dominant political party Golkar for 32 years, while Malaysia’s UMNO has been ruling the country for the past 42 years.
From Nigeria through Pakistan to Indonesia, there is talk of tracing the billions of Muslim money salted away by the corrupt regimes that have taken turns to send their countries to the cleaners.
Displaying characteristic brutality, personnel of the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) shot and injured several students in front of the parliament building in Jakarta on September 7.
B J Habibie, appointed president of Indonesia upon Suharto’s ouster from power in May is beginning to enjoy himself. The change of guard has led to claims in some circles that he reflects the Islamic sentiments of the nearly 200 million people scattered across the vast archipelago.
The process of selecting a president by the People’s Consultative Assembly in Indonesia lasting 11 days beginning on March 1, had already been decided last May. The 1,000-member assembly is a rubber-stamp body which simply confirms what the ruling Golkar Party wants.
Indonesia’s presidential elections are not due until next March but general Suharto is taking no chances. Not that his own position is threatened. He wants to make sure that even his running mate is chosen through consensus.
The Developing Eight (D-8) economic cooperation group got off to a shaky start on June 15 in Istanbul as its most passionate advocate, prime minister Necmettin Erbakan of Turkey struggled with his hawkish generals to hang on to power.
General Suharto, his ruling Golkar Party and the Indonesian armed forces have got it all wrapped up. The May 29 general election results in the largest Muslim country in the world have already been decided.
What do Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan have in common? They are huge countries, in terms of area and population, which are overwhelmingly Muslim but with Christian minorities and ethnic diversity that the west uses to destabilize these potentially rich and powerful States.
The idea of secularization led naturally to the idea of an Indonesian 'nationalism'. But how can one inclusive 'nationalism' be created in a multi-national empire, covering an area as large as western and eastern Europe put together?