Thursday, May 27, 1999

Nieman Foundation Names 12 International Fellows


Twelve international journalists have been named Nieman Fellows for the 1999-00 academic year. They will join 12 American journalists whose names were announced earlier in May to make up the 62nd class of Nieman Fellows.

Established in 1938, the Nieman Fellowship program is the oldest mid- career fellowship program for journalists in the world. The fellowships are awarded to working journalists of particular accomplishment and promise for an academic year of study in any part of Harvard. More than 1,000 journalists from the United States and from 69 other countries have participated in the program.

The international journalists in the new Nieman class and their areas of interest are:

Mark Chavunduka, editor, The Standard, Harare, Zimbabwe; comparative study of the media in the developed world and in developing countries. Ruth Cowan Nash Fellow; funding provided by the Nash Fund.

Dennis Cruywagen, deputy editor, Pretoria News, South Africa; democracies, young and old. Funding provided by the United States-South Africa Leadership Development Program.

Nikola Djuric, owner and manager of the banned City Radio station, Nis, Serbia; U.S. management techniques and the electronic media. Ruth Cowan Nash Fellow; funding provided by the Nash Fund.

Ragip Duran, correspondent, based in Istanbul, Turkey, Libération of Paris; media criticism and civic journalism. Partial funding provided by the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute.

Benjamin Fernandez, head of the news department, SNT Continental‹Canal 9, Asuncion, Paraguay; moral values in the political process from dictatorship to democracy, media business management and regional political agreements. Knight Latin American Fellow; funding provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Aytul Gurtas, correspondent, based in Ankara, Turkey, ANSA (Italian News Agency); international relations, human rights, nationalism and ethnicity, and media studies. Partial funding provided by the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute.

Andreas Harsono, freelance journalist, Jakarta, Indonesia; government, economics, human rights and national security issues. Funding provided by The Ford Foundation.

Tatsuya Inose, documentary program director, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), Tokyo; U.S. economic recovery, development of start-up companies and industrial competitiveness. Funding provided by NHK.

Mojgan Jalali, editor, Iran News, Tehran; American and English literature, politics and journalism. Partial funding provided by the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute.

Rakesh Kalshian, correspondent, Outlook, New Delhi, India. Geopolitical debate over climate change, technological solutions to global warming and the economic consequences. Environmental Fellow; funding provided by the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

Lee Kwangchool, deputy editor and anchorman, KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) Evening News, Seoul; business competition, customer service, the environment and human values. Funding provided by The Asia Foundation and The Sungkok Journalism Foundation.

Laura Lynch, national reporter, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio, Vancouver, British Columbia; how human rights and written constitutions shape society; decision-making, ethics and economics. Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Nieman Fellow; funding provided by the Goodman Trust in Canada and the Goodman Fund in the U.S.

Freelancer Andreas wins Nieman Fellowship

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (JP): Andreas Harsono, a Jakarta-based freelance journalist, has been named a Nieman Fellow for the 1999-2000 academic year at Harvard University in Boston, the United States.

Andreas and 11 other international journalists will join 12 American journalists, who were named earlier this month, to make up the 62nd class of Nieman Fellows, AP reported on Tuesday.

The Nieman Fellowship program is the oldest mid-career fellowship program for journalists in the world. The fellowships offer a year of academic study at Harvard.

More than 1,000 journalists from the United States and 69 other countries have participated in the program.

Andreas will take a variety of courses in government, economics, human rights and national security issues.

He is the fourth Indonesian to win a Nieman Fellowship since the program was established in 1938.

Indonesia's first Nieman Fellow was Sabam Siagian, the former chief editor of The Jakarta Post and former Indonesian ambassador to Australia. Sabam received his fellowship during the 1978-1979 academic year.

Goenawan Mohamad, chief editor of Tempo news magazine, was Indonesia's second Nieman Fellow in 1990-1991. The third was Ratih Hardjono, a Kompas correspondent, who received her fellowship in the 1993-1994 academic year.

The other 11 international journalist to receive fellowships for the 1999-2000 academic year are Mark Chavunduka of Zimbabwe; Dennis Cruywagen of South Africa; Nikola Djuric of Serbia; Ragip Duran of Turkey; Benjamin Fernandez of Paraguay; Aytul Gurtas of Turkey; Tatsuya Inose of Japan; Mojgan Jalali of Iran; Rakesh Kalshian of India; Lee Kwangchool of South Korea and Laura Lynch of Canada. (hhr)

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Indonesian kingmaker wants ties with India, China

THE NATION May 26, 1999, Wednesday


MEDAN -- Indonesia's kingmaker said in a television talk show on Monday evening that he would like the future democratic Indonesia to build better cooperation with Asian countries such as India and China.

Abdurrahman Wahid, chairman of Indonesia's largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, said that these two countries were the world's most densely populated with “huge domestic markets” and technical capabilities to develop small and medium-sized business corporations.

“We could tap into not only their huge markets but also their know- how. Our economy should be based on common sense just like theirs. It should not be based on an abrupt concept like what is being implemented now,” said Wahid, referring to a programme called the “people's economy” developed by Cooperation and Small Business Minister Adi Sasono, who is a close aide to President BJ Habibie.

Critics say the programme, which basically provides for low bank interest for cooperatives and small businesses, is politically motivated as it has some anti-Chinese elements and favouritism towards groups connected to both Sasono and Habibie.

Wahid, who is affectionately known here as Gus Dur, also mentioned his eagerness to see Indonesia work with developed Asian countries such as Singapore and Japan in a bid to cooperate with Western European countries as well as the United States.

“I'm not saying that we are not going to cooperate with these Western countries, but we should give more attention to India and China,” Gus Dur said. The Muslim leader is frequently thought to have great influence over opposition leaders like Megawati Sukarnoputri of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle and Amien Rais of the National Mandate Party.

The three of them earlier this month issued a communique in which they called on the public to prevent the old regime of Suharto from coming back to power in the elections scheduled for early next month.

Gus Dur is also widely respected in Indonesia's Java Island rural areas, making him an important figure for anyone who wants to rule Indonesia as well as the powerful Indonesian armed forces. The nearly blind Gus Dur, who had a mild stroke two years ago, appeared to be healthy during the 90-minute talk show on the TPI channel. It was broadcast live, received telephone callers and had a studio audience of dozens of students as well as two political commentators.

Gus Dur became emotional when political commentator Indria Samego of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences suggested that he was only indulging in rhetoric. “Come on, where were you when Suharto was in power? I was there for 15 years being trampled by Suharto, who did not want to see me as the head of the Nahdlatul Ulama. I did not see you there, sir,” said Gus Dur.

He stressed that if his group won the election the first thing that they would like to do was change the way Indonesia had been governed over the last five decades. The government should be responsible to the people, not only in rhetoric, but also in practice, he said, and the people should be able to change the government by an election.

Local parliaments should be able to elect their leaders, he said, and governors should not be able to change the results of elections and indeed should be elected by provincial parliaments in polls not subject to alteration by central government.

When a caller asked Gus Dur about his involvement in the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank closely associated with Suharto in the 1970s and alleged to have helped suppress several local resistance movements in Indonesia, Gus Dur said that he had agreed to sit on the board of the CSIS because he believed that it had changed a lot.

He said he would like to see more Muslim figures managing the day-to- day affairs of the CSIS, adding that he was now nominating Muslim Abdurrahman, a Muslim thinker just returned from the United States, to head the body.

Many Muslim groups dislike the CSIS, which is perceived as having been widely involved in controversial policies such as the suppression of Muslim opposition parties in the 1970s. The think-tank is also considered to be a Christian-dominated organisation financed by Chinese tycoons, though it is also well known for its extensive library and economic research.

Thursday, May 20, 1999

Protesters tell Suharto to quit now

The Nation

JAKARTA, 20 May 1998 -- Tens of thousands of students camped outside the Parliament early Wednesday were clearly showing President Suharto that his surprise announcement Tuesday that he would resign after instituting reform measures was not good enough --they want him out immediately.

The crowd of young protesters, estimated Tuesday night as between 50,000 to 70,000, was swelling by the hour as more students from outlying areas poured into the capital to support the push for the President's immediate removal.

The authorities, fearing a new day of nationwide mass demonstrations Wednesday, were Tuesday night deploying extra troops and tanks close to the presidential palace.

In a move which stunned both opponents and supporters, President Suharto said Tuesday he will resign after instituting a series of reform measures, including calling an immediate general election.

Suharto announced his intentions after meeting with nine prominent Muslim figures in the Merdeka Palace earlier in the morning, including Abdurrahman Wahid, chairman of the 30-million strong Nahdlatul Ulama organisation, and Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid.

However, thousands of students occupying Parliament House greeted the nationally-broadcast announcement with derision.

Student protesters siezed control of the public address system in the Parliament compound and allowed speaker after speaker to denounce Suharto. The students and opposition politicians, who have been staging rallies since March, denounced the proposal, saying Suharto must resign as soon as possible.

They vowed to organise massive rallies Wednesday in Jakarta as well as other major cities to keep up the pressure.

The 77-year-old Suharto said he wants to become a pandito, or sage, after retiring from office. "'Being an ordinary citizen doesn't mean less honour than being president as long as we can contribute to the people and the country.''

During his 15-minute media briefing, Suharto described the three-step proposal in front of the nine guests and more than 50 reporters and photographers.

The reforms will start with a Cabinet reshuffle and the establishment up a reform committee, which will include university professors, intelletuals and religious leaders.

The committee is also assigned to reshape the widely-citicised laws regulating general elections, political parties, the House of Representatives and local Parliaments, monopolies and corruption.

''If deemed necessary, the committee is welcomed to draft other bills,'' Suharto said, adding that a general election will be organised shortly after the laws have been passed.

Suharto, who read a prepared text after giving the background to his thoughts, said the new Parliament is to convene and elect a new president and vice president as soon as possible.

''I myself am kapok (tired) of being president. Resignation is not an issue. I'm more than prepared to resign, but will my resignation mean that the problems will be solved? Constitutionally, it should be the vice president who takes over,'' Suharto said.

The president, however, answered his own question and said that Vice President BJ Habibie is likely to face similar problems. ''People will question his position, and it might lead to further turmoil.''

Although Suharto did not mention any time frame, both Nurcholish and legal professor Yusril Ihsa Mahendra, who is Suharto's speech writer and who also attended the meeting, told the media that the Muslim leaders and Suharto had talked about the proposal taking around six months to implement.

After completing the six-month proposal, Suharto said he will step down. ''I hereby declare that I do not want to be renominated as president again.''

Chronicling the meeting, Nucholish said he opened the discussion by telling Suharto that he has to resign as of Tuesday. ''My calculation of the crisis in based in seconds, instead of minutes, which means that the longer he stays the more serious the damage will be.''

But Suharto rejected the suggestion and asked whether his resignation would not spark further problems as people would question Habibie's position.

Wahid said the Suharto proposal is ''very positive'', and called on the students, who plan to organise mass rallies Wednesday, to cancel the demonstrations as they have already received what they want.

Another Muslim figure, Emha Ainun Najib, who last week called on Suharto to step down and even to donate his personal wealth to the state, said the proposal is the ''most moderate'' solution under the current situation.

But two other prominent figures missed the two-hour meeting -- Muslim leader Amien Rais, who is also the chairman of the 25-million strong Muhammadiyah organisation, and nationalist leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, the eldest daughter of the late President Sukarno.

Both are nationally known as outspoken critics of the government and openly challenged Suharto's re-nomination and re-election in March.

At a separate conference Tuesday, Amien, who was accompanied by Madjid, deplored the proposal and said Suharto must step down first and leave Vice President Habibie to organise the election. ''The offer lacks details. I have reached the conclusion that the reform movement would go on and on and on.''

He said the Suharto proposal is a ''cheap game to fool his own people'', calling it ''disappointing'' and showing that the aging leader is ''unrealistic...full of illusions and hallucinations''.

''Tomorrow the people will hammer the same issue -- there is no other issue but that he must step down,'' Amien Rais said.

''There is no question about tomorrow. There will be huge crowds from every walk of life, and I will join them,'' he said.

His statement was obvioulsy addressed at the thousands of students and activists nationwide to encourage them continue with their planned million-strong street rally. Amien himself will lead the rally from Parliament to the Merdeka Palace.

The students set up a bigger banner which read ''Suharto and Habibie step down now''. Clad in the colourful jackets of their respective campuses, the students vowed to continue to occupy the Parliament building until the rubber-stamp Parliament holds another convention to hold Suharto accountable.

The students held free speech forums inside and outside the building, denouncing both Suharto and Habibie. Dozens scaled the building's green dome and raised their banners.

The Parliament compound has turned into a huge bazaar with food vendors opening stalls selling everything from soft drinks to fried rice.

It is talked widely here that engineer-turn-politician Habibie is not a capable politican. He is known as a big spender, with pet projects including aircraft and ship building indutries contributing heavily to Indonesia's debts.

In a related development, House Speaker Harmoko, whose office has also been occupied by the students, held a long meeting with other factions and his four deputies. At the end of the day, Harmoko read a written statement which said that the House is to support the ''acceleration of reforms''.

According to Harmoko, a former Cabinet member and the chairman of Suharto's Golkar ruling party, the Parliament supports the principle of ''constitutional presidential succession''.

But he declined to elaborate, denying that it was a reversal of his Monday statement calling on Suharto to step down. However, Tuesday's statement obviously contradicted his initial one.

Political developments moved very fast in Jakarta nowadays. Harmoko apparently altered his opinion after military commander Gen Wiranto openly opposed calls for Suharto's resignation.

Many journalists, politicians and diplomats here believe that the armed forces is now heavily split between the more moderate camp, headed by Wiranto, and the hardliner Lt Gen Prabowo Subianto, who commands the Army's strategic and reserve command.

The speculation is that Wiranto is trying to slow the parliamentarian and student's agendas in a bid to engage the Prabowo camp. Fast reforms might put the two camps on a collision course and even result in civil war.

Javanese linguist Farida Soemargono-Labrousse of the Paris- based Institute for Studies on Oriental Languages and Civilisation, said that in the Javanese context a person who is to become a sage does not publicly state his intention to become one.

''Most importantly, a would-be sage is not someone who is morally corrupt and materially rich,'' said Soemargono-Labrousse, adding that Suharto had obviously manipulated the meaning of the Javanese pandito.

Foreign embassies in Jakarta have issued circulairs asking their citizens not to go to Jakarta's main protest area Wednesday, fearing that the protests might turn violent, as happened last week when rioters razes many parts of the capital.

The killings inflamed the protests and prompted students to occupy the Parliament building.

As if trying to meet the students' challenge, Suharto's three most loyal generals -- Lt Gen Prabowo Subianto, who is also Suharto's son-in- law, Jakarta military commander Major Gen Sjafrie Sjamsuddin and elite Kopassus commander Maj Gen Muchdie -- gathered their soldiers Tuesday in Senayan Stadium, only a kilometre from the building.

Sjamsuddin even made a show of force, circling more than a dozen tanks around the occupied Parliament building.

The two-star general also stirred up his men with nationalistic speeches, asking them to follow his orders in a bid to ''save our people and our country''.