|THE COUNT CONTINUES|
July 8, 1999
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: For more on all this, we turn now to Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia during the Reagan Administration-- he was in Indonesia last month observing the elections for the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute; Donald Emmerson, Professor of Political Science and Southeast Asian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- he too was an election observer last month; and Sidney Jones, executive director of Human Rights Watch Asia-- she was last in Indonesia in February, and has been there frequently over the past 20 years. Ambassador Wolfowitz, what has the election process so far told us about Indonesia now a little more than a year after Suharto was forced out?
|The election process: A good sign?|
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: Well, I think the basic news is still extremely good in spite of all the disturbing indications that were included in your introduction. The fact is the fourth largest country in the world on June 7, demonstrated in a powerful and impressive way the deep desire of the Indonesian people for democracy, their determination to make it work, their determination to make it work in a peaceful fashion. These elections were extraordinarily peaceful, much more peaceful than the last rigged elections under the old regime.
So, it's a very good start, and I think potentially very important both for solving Indonesia's problems but also if Indonesia ultimately succeeds in becoming the world's third largest democracy, it will have, I think, a big influence on the rest of Asia and the rest of the Muslim world. It will be one of the first democracies in the Muslim world. But the problem is not just the slowness of the vote count.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And by the way, let me interrupt before you go on. Why, briefly, is it so slow?
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: I think it is more because the country is so vast, because the procedures were so quickly put together and frankly, because in many cases, when there are disputes about the vote count, they laboriously go back and check the differences and work on them. The fact is that while only 60 percent of the vote may be officially counted through very effective sampling procedures, constructed by an organization put together by the rectors of the major universities, everyone has a reasonably good idea of what the final vote count is going to look like.
The problem is that it split up among roughly six major parties. And the key is going to be, I believe, for Megawati Sukarnoputri, who will end up with something like 35 percent of the vote, which makes her the very clear leader in this election but that by itself is not enough to establish a government with broad popular support. She and other parties, and I think it has to be the parties that represent this overwhelming desire for change and reform, need to be able to put together a government. The sooner they can get on with that, the sooner some of the problems of unrest that were mentioned in your introduction I think can be dealt with more effectively.
|Reform and change.|
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Donald Emmerson, what's your view on what the elections so far have shown us about reform and change?
EMMERSON: I agree with Paul that I think we should be grateful that
election day was remarkably peaceful. It's important to remember that
a lot of people expected major violence to occur. Nevertheless, the
real problem is when an election is effective, it has to deliver. And
the delays make the delivery, they push it off until sometime perhaps
as late as November. We might not know until then who the next president
of Indonesia is going to be. And, as Paul implied, the extraordinary
complex and cumbersome system that Indonesia is now saddled with means
that there are 238 seats in the 700-member constituent assembly - the
people's consultative assembly -- that are not directly elected at all.
And, therefore, if you get all of those 238 seats, you only need as little as quarter of the seats that were directly elected on the 7th of June in order to get an absolutely majority in the assembly and become president. Now, a lot of people worry that in the backrooms of Jakarta, as politicians maneuver to try to make coalitions to put together that winning number of 351 seats, the election which appears to have been won by Megawati is going to be lost to somebody else, conceivably even Habibie.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Sidney Jones, just briefly, what do you think about what this show is about? And then tell us a little about Megawati. I understand she is called by one name, as many Indonesians are.
SIDNEY JONES: That's right. I think it is important to underscore that the longer this goes on, the more dangerous it will be, because it's as though all the rest of Indonesia on hold. Nobody is paying attention to the economy in a systematic way. Nobody is paying attention to the building unrest in the regions. East Timor is going to hell in a hand basket. We've got Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra erupting. We have got violence breaking out in other places in a way that has nothing to do with the election. So, unless this is resolved soon - and I think somebody is going to have to declare closure quite quickly - I think we could see much of the good that's been done come unraveled.
|Who is Megawati?|
SIDNEY JONES: As far as Megawati is concerned, she is someone who came into political prominence in 1993, mostly on the basis of her father's name. She had a reputation as being someone who was clean and uncorrupt, which in itself was a major departure in Indonesia. She is somebody who is-- represents nostalgia for her father who was seen in some cases, misguidedly, as being someone who supported the little guy. He was a populist and she's a populist. Appealing to the lower urban classes, people who have nothing and think that if she comes to power, she will deliver and so on. And, yet, she has said nothing. She has no political program. She's a figurehead in some ways who has maintained her support by being absolutely silent and not saying anything about what she intends to do if, in fact, she does become president. She's got people in her close circle of advisors who are very good but represent radically different streams of thinking, so she's got one person who supports, for example, a fixed exchange rate. She's got somebody else who supports a floating exchange rate. She is somebody who doesn't want East Timor to become independent. And yet she appeals to many intellectuals and people in the Jakarta urban elite who would like to see a free and fair referendum in East Timor. So, nobody has a clue what's going to happen.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Ambassador Wolfowitz, do you want to add anything to that?
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: I think it's true that Megawati articulated very few policy positions in this campaign. But she did very clearly for two things: Number one, she stood for change. And change means a broad desire of the Indonesian people to have a government that isn't corrupt, that doesn't abuse power. In fact, if you combine her votes with those of Abdurrahman Wahid's party which also stood for change, and Amien Rais's party, which also stood for change.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Those are both Muslim parties.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: Well, actually Amien Rais's party is not a Muslim party,
although he himself was a major Muslim figure. And Abdurrahman Wahid
is a major Muslim figure, but all three of these people - I think this
is important -not only stood for change but stood against those people
who said politics should be determined by religion, that Indonesians
should be divided. Megawati's standard stump speech was, I'm not a Javanese;
I'm an Indonesian. And even though she was criticized by some quarters
for not being Islamic enough, the millions of people who voted for her,
are almost all overwhelmingly Muslims. So, there is a basis there to
put something together.
SIDNEY JONES: But the problem again is the longer it goes on, the more there's room for the opposition and manipulation to build so that Paul mentioned that there was a growing movement to deny Megawati the presidency on the ground that she's a woman and a woman shouldn't be a president in a Muslim country. Now, that's been flatly rejected as an argument by some of the key Muslim leaders.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: And also by the military.
SIDNEY JONES: It's a sentiment that's held. But just now, just today, there was a bill introduced to say that only a president could be in power if they had a college education which Megawati doesn't have. And it seems as though people are looking for ways to almost pull this process which is very fragile but thus far, very positive apart in ways that could be disastrous unless, as I say, it comes to closure quite quickly.
|The East Timor issue|
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Donald Emmerson, we don't have a lot of time, but would you fit the situation of East Timor into this overall picture?
DONALD EMMERSON: Frankly, I think the alarm that Sidney strikes is perhaps a especially relevant to East Timor. I'm more optimistic about the political process in Indonesia as whole. But East Timor is an extraordinarily volatile place at the moment. We have clear evidence that elements within the Indonesian military have for some time now been supporting, even supplying arms to militias, as they're called, that have engaged in considerable violence, including killing people, that is people who support independence because they are dead-set against it and would like to keep East Timor inside Indonesia. And let's remember also that there are a fair number of Indonesian military officers that have fought in East Timor. Some of them have married East Timorese wives. They have property in East Timor.
I interviewed a general who is a reform-minded person when it comes to democratization for his own country, Indonesia, but who absolutely draws the line -- no independence for East Timor. One of the things that I worry about is that as the East Timor situation continues to unravel, it could reconnect with politics in Jakarta in a rather nasty way. If there were to be a president who came to power in Jakarta who wanted East Timor to become independent, or at least who was willing to tolerate it, the question is, would the army go along? I'm not sure.
SIDNEY JONES: I think there's another key question which is, one of the questions is, why is the army backing the militias at this stage? It's not just because they serve there. It's because some leading people in Jakarta, leading officers see East Timor as the first in a series of dominoes and believe this if this U.N. mission, which is in East Timor to supervise a referendum, is allowed to succeed and if the East Timorese people do vote for independence, that that will start a chain toward the disintegration of Indonesia.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Which has always been the fear, right?
SIDNEY JONES: Yes. And hook up with rebellions in Aceh and the tip of North Sumatra in Irianjaya, which is the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea, and so on. Now, I think it's not the case -
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I have to interrupt. I'm sorry. I have to interrupt you. We're out of time for this. But thank you all very much.