|Indonesia Table of Contents
According to the constitution, there are six organs of state. Sovereignty in Indonesia is vested in the people, who exercise their will through the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Full executive authority is vested in the president, who is elected by and responsible to the MPR. Legislative power is shared with the House of People's Representatives (DPR). The president is advised by the Supreme Advisory Council, whereas the State Audit Board exercises financial oversight. At the apex of the judicial system is the Supreme Court.
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR)
The highest constitutional body is the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which meets every five years in the year following the elections to the parliament--the House of People's Representatives (DPR). The MPR has 1,000 seats, 500 of which are assigned to the members of the DPR. Of the other 500 seats, 100 are reserved for representatives of professional groups, including ABRI, appointed by the president and, as of 1992, 147 seats were held by delegates elected by provincial-level legislative assemblies. The balance of seats--253 in 1992--were assigned after the 1987 DPR elections on a proportional basis to representatives of the political parties, depending on their respective membership in the DPR. Golkar took the largest number of these seats based on its 1987 winning of 299 of the 400 elected DPR seats. This election resulted in a total of 540 Golkar seats in the MPR, an absolute majority even without counting the ABRI faction and the provincial-level representatives. The Muslim-based PPP only had sixty-one DPR seats and ninety-three MPR seats, whereas the PDI, with its forty DPR seats, was at the bottom of the MPR list.
The principal legislative task of the MPR is to approve the Broad Outlines of State Policy, a document that theoretically establishes policy guidelines for the next five years. The draft is prepared by a government task force and is expected to be approved by consensus. In 1988, however, the PPP forced a recorded vote on two amendments to the Broad Outlines of State Policy, which, although the government won overwhelmingly, was taken by some observers as an indication that automatic adherence to the requirement for consensus was no longer a given in Indonesian politics. The first issue advanced by the PPP had to do with the legal status of Javanese mysticism (aliran kepercayaan) as a recognized religion. Aliran kepercayaan is the formal expression of kebatinan or religiously syncretic Javanism, a set of religious practices that the PPP rejected as heterodoxy. The second amendment had to do with a commitment to cleaner and fairer elections. This issue reflected the PPP's experiences in the 1987 general election. In 1992, in response to the perception that the MPR was no longer satisfied with a rubber-stamp role, Suharto declared that the 1993 MPR would have greater input into the initial stages of drafting the Broad Outlines of State Policy.
House of People's Representatives (DPR)
Legislative authority is constitutionally vested in the House of People's Representatives (often shortened to House of Representatives or DPR). This 500-member body meets annually, opening on August 16, the eve of National Day when the president delivers his National Day speech. Four hundred of the DPR seats are electorally contested by the three political parties (Golkar, PPP, and PDI) in provincial constituencies, which in the 1987 general election were based on a population ratio of approximately 1 representative per 400,000 people. Each administrative territorial district (kabupaten) is guaranteed at least one representative no matter what its population. A further 100 seats are allocated to military representatives who are appointed on the recommendation of ABRI. The justification for the ABRI faction is that since members of the armed forces cannot take part in elections, their political rights as a sociopolitical and defense force were served through guaranteed DPR seats. Faced with civilian resentment about the privileged position of ABRI in the parliamentary bodies, Suharto warned that denying the military legitimate input into the legislative process could lead to a coup. However, in his 1992 National Day speech, Suharto conceded that the number of guaranteed ABRI seats could be adjusted.
The DPR is led by a speaker elected from the membership. From 1988 to 1992, this position was filled by Lieutenant General (retired) Kharis Suhud, who in the previous session was leader of the ABRI faction. Work is organized through eleven permanent committees, each with a specific functional area of governmental affairs. The legislative process begins with the submission by the government of a bill to the DPR. Although members can initiate a bill, it must be accompanied by an explanatory memorandum signed by at least thirty legislators. Before a bill is approved, it must have four readings unless excepted by the DPR Steering Committee. The first reading is its introduction in an open plenary session. This reading is followed by a general debate in open plenary session with the government's right of reply. The bill is then discussed in committee with the government or initiating members. The final discussion of the draft legislation takes place in open plenary session, after which the DPR makes its decision. The deliberations of the DPR are designed to produce consensus. It is the political preference of the leadership to avoid overt expressions of less than complete support. This position is justified by the claim of a cultural predisposition to avoid, if possible, votes in which majority-minority opposing positions are recorded. If votes are necessary, however, a quorum requires a two-thirds majority. On issues of nomination and appointment voting is by secret ballot but on all other matters by show of hands.
With the built-in Golkar-ABRI faction absolute majority, the DPR has routinely approved government legislation. During Suharto's fifth term (1988-93), however, with the appearance of many younger DPR members, there was a new willingness to use the forum for fuller and more forthright discussions of public issues and policies, even by Golkar members. This openness paralleled a similar trend toward greater openness in nonlegislative elite circles that seemingly had received government encouragement. Part of the discussion inside and outside of the DPR had to do with increasing the role and institutional capability of the parliament in order to enhance political participation.
Indonesia's government is a strong presidential system. The president is elected for a five-year term by a majority vote of the MPR, and he may be reelected when his term expires. The only constitutional qualification for office is that the president be a native-born Indonesian citizen. In carrying out his duties, the president is the Mandatory of the MPR, responsible to the MPR for the execution of state policy. In addition to his executive authority, the president is vested with legislative power, acting in concurrence with the DPR. The president also serves as the supreme commander of ABRI. He is aided in his executive role by a presidentially appointed cabinet.
Between 1945 and 1992, Indonesia had two presidents: Sukarno from 1945 to 1967, and Suharto from 1967. Suharto became president in a process that, while ostensibly claiming to be constitutional, had as its main instrument ABRI's coercive force. The drama of Indonesia's first presidential succession was angrily played out against the dangers and murders of the months following the abortive 1965 coup d'ťtat as the military and their civilian allies rooted out the PKI and began the dismantling of Sukarno's Guided Democracy. On March 11, 1966, under great pressure, Sukarno signed an order popularly known as Supersemar (Executive Order of March 11, 1966), that de facto transferred presidential authority, although not the office, to then General Suharto. A year later, on March 12, 1967, a special session of the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPR(S)) unanimously lifted its mandate from Sukarno and named Suharto acting president. At its March 1968 regular session, the MPR confirmed Suharto as its Mandatory, electing him Indonesia's second president. He was unanimously reelected in 1973, 1978, 1983, and 1988. Toward the end of Suharto's fourth term of office, the question of possible term limitation was raised and became an issue in the political dialogue of the fifth term. Although he remained uncommitted about accepting a sixth term (1993-98). Suharto responded directly to the issue, repeatedly stating that the right to determine who would be president resided in the MPR.
The term limitation question was embedded in the larger question of presidential succession in the event that Suharto chose to step down or declined to accept reelection. The term limitation question also had the effect of refocusing attention on the vice presidential office. Constitutionally, the president is to be assisted in his duties by a vice president, who succeeds in the event of the president's death, removal, or inability to exercise official duties. Although not constitutionally prescribed, it has been accepted that the president would present his own nominee for vice president to be elected by the MPR. Although only vaguely defined, the office diminished in importance since it was first held by revolutionary hero and federalist Mohammad Hatta from 1945 to 1956. Hatta's status was parallel to that of Sukarno, representing the concept of a duumvirate of authority (dwitunggal). After Hatta's resignation in 1956, the office remained vacant until 1973 when it was filled by Hamengkubuwono IX, the Sultan of Yogyakarta. The sultan's arrival in office symbolically expanded the militarybacked power base of the New Order, conferring on it the nonmilitary legitimacy of the traditional Javanese political culture. Hamengkubuwono's decision not to seek reelection in 1978 was interpreted partly as disenchantment with the military, which was unwilling to share authority with civilians. Adam Malik, a former minister of foreign affairs, was the last civilian vice president (1978-83). He was replaced in 1983 by low-profile General Umar Wirahadikusumah. In 1988 Golkar chairman Lieutenant General (retired) Sudharmono was elected vice president in an MPR session roiled by behind-the-scenes military politics of presidential succession. In the prelude to the 1993 MPR session, expectations about a sixth term for Suharto fueled new speculation about the vice-presidential selection. By early 1992, the PDI had preemptively announced its support for ABRI commander General Try Sutrisno.
Succession politics intervened in the 1988 elections when it appeared that in selecting a vice president the president might be signalling a successor, especially because he had hinted that he might step down before the fifth term ended in 1993. Important elements in ABRI's leadership were dissatisfied with the possibility that Sudharmono, an army lawyer and career bureaucrat, might be tapped, and the ABRI faction in the MPR refused to join Golkar and the regional delegates in nominating him. Furthermore, PPP leader Jailani (Johnny) Naro declared his own candidacy. The president was forced to make explicit his support for Sudharmono and his intention to serve out his term. Faced with this direct challenge by the president, Naro backed away from forcing a vote and Sudharmono became vice president by acclamation. The political drama of the 1988 vice presidential election foreshadowed the role succession politics would play throughout Suharto's fifth term.
The president is assisted by state ministers appointed by him. In 1988 Suharto named his Fifth Development Cabinet, paralleling Repelita V (the fifth five-year development plan, fiscal year 1989-93. Twenty-one departments were headed by ministers in 1992. These departments were grouped under three coordinating ministers: politics and security; economics, finance, industry, and development supervision; and public welfare. There were eight ministers of state and six junior ministers. In addition to the cabinet members, three high-ranking state officials were accorded ministerial rank: the commander in chief of ABRI (in the Fifth Development Cabinet, General Try Sutrisno); the attorney general; and the governor of Bank Indonesia, the central bank. Of the thirty-eight members of the Fifth Development Cabinet, ten held the same positions in the Fourth Development Cabinet, nine continued in the cabinet but with different posts, and nineteen were new ministers--a balance of continuity and renewal.
Specialized agencies and boards at the central government level are numerous and diverse. They include the National Development Board (Bappenas), the National Family Planning Coordinating Agency (BKKBN), the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), and the Agency for Regional Development (BAPEDA). At lower levels there are regional planing agencies, investment boards, and development banks under the aegis of the central government.
The Supreme Advisory Council and the State Audit Board
Two other constitutionally mandated quasi-independent bodies exist to support the executive and the government. The Supreme Advisory Council is mandated by Article 16 of the constitution. A forty-five-member group nominated by the DPR and appointed by the president, the council responds to any presidential question regarding affairs of state. It is organized into four permanent committees: political; economic, financial, and industrial; people's welfare; and defense and security. The council was chaired from 1988 to 1992 by General Mardean Panggabean, a former ABRI commander. The State Audit Board is specified in Article 23 of the constitution to conduct official examinations of the government's finances. It reports to the DPR, which approves the government's budget requests. The chairman of the State Audit Board during the Fifth Development Cabinet was General Muhammad Jusuf, another former ABRI commander.
The Indonesian legal system is extraordinarily complex, the independent state having inherited three sources of law: customary or adat law, traditionally the basis for resolving interpersonal disputes in the traditional village environment; Islamic law (sharia, or, in Indonesian, syariah), often applied to disputes between Muslims; and Dutch colonial law. Adat courts were abolished in 1951, although customary means of dispute resolution were still used in villages in 1992. The return to the 1945 constitution in 1959 meant that Dutch laws remained in force except as subsequently altered or found to be inconsistent with the constitution. An improved criminal code enacted in 1981 expanded the legal rights of criminal defendants. The government in 1992 was still reviewing its legacy of Dutch civil and commercial laws in an effort to codify them in Indonesian terms. The types of national law recognized in MPR(S) Decree XX, (July 5, 1966), include, in addition to the constitution, MPR decrees, statutes passed by the DPR and ratified by the president, government regulations promulgated by the president to implement a statute, presidential decisions to implement the constitution or government regulations, and other implementing regulations such as ministerial regulations and instructions. Obviously, the executive enjoys enormous discretion in determining what is law.
With respect to the administration of justice, Article 24 of the constitution states that judicial power shall be vested in a Supreme Court and subordinate courts established by law, and that the organization and competence of courts shall be established by law. In Sukarno's Guided Democracy, the justice system became a tool of the revolution, and any pretense of an independent judiciary was abandoned. One of the goals of the New Order was to restore the rule of law. A major step in that direction was the enactment of the Basic Law on the Judiciary Number 14 of 1970, which defined an independent status for the Supreme Court and emphasized noninterference in judicial matters by persons outside the judiciary. Theoretically, the Supreme Court stands coequal with the executive and legislative branches. The president, vice president, and justices of the Supreme Court are nominated by the DPR and appointed by the president. The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction in disputes between courts of the different court systems and between courts located in different regions. It can annul decisions of high courts on points of law, not fact. On request it can give advisory opinions to the government and guidance to lower courts. It is not part of a system of checks and balances, however, since it does not have the power of judicial review of the constitutionality of laws passed by the DPR. Its jurisdiction is limited to whether or not implementing administrative regulations conforms to the laws as passed. Moreover, the Supreme Court has no control over the integrity of the lower courts, which are under the supervision of the Department of Justice.
Below the Supreme Court four different court systems can be distinguished. First, there are courts of general civil and criminal jurisdiction. District courts are the courts of first instance. The high courts are appellate courts. The administration of these courts is under the minister of justice, who controls judicial appointments, promotion, transfer, and pay. Despite protestations of independence, the lower courts had, as of the early 1990s, shown themselves reluctant to challenge the government, particularly in cases with political overtones. In the view of some observers, these courts routinely allowed egregious breaches of fundamental civil rights. There were also regular allegations of corruption in the lower court system in both civil and criminal cases.
Second, there are religious courts, under the Department of Religious Affairs, which exist to resolve specific kinds of disputes between Muslims in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and gifts. These courts base their decision on Islamic law. To be legally enforceable, however, the religious court's decisions must be approved by a corresponding secular district court. The Directorate of Religious Justice within the Department of Religious Affairs has ultimate appellate jurisdiction. One of the persistent tensions between Islam and the state arises from Muslim efforts to expand the jurisdiction and autonomy of the sharia courts.
Third, in 1992 there was a Taxation Review Board that adjudicated taxation disputes. Other administrative courts had been eliminated as part of government's effort to simplify and standardize the court system.
Fourth, there are the military courts, which have jurisdiction over members of ABRI or persons declared to be of a similar status. After the 1965 coup attempt, special military courts were given authority to try military personnel and civilians alleged to be involved in the abortive coup. Hundreds of sentences ranging from twenty years' imprisonment to death were meted out by the special military courts, with executions continuing more than two decades after the event.
Government administration is processed through descending levels of administrative subunits. Indonesia is made up of twenty-seven provincial-level units. In 1992 there actually were only twenty-four provinces (propinsi), two special regions (daerah istimewa)--Aceh and Yogyakarta--and a special capital city region (daerah khusus ibukota)--Jakarta. The provinces in turn were subdivided into districts (kabupaten), and below that into subdistricts (kecamatan). There were forty municipalities or city governments (kotamadya) that were at the same administrative level as a kabupaten. At the lowest tier of the administrative hierarchy was the village (desa). According to 1991 statistics, Indonesia had 241 districts, 3,625 subdistricts, 56 cities, and 66,979 villages.
Since independence the nation has been centrally governed from Jakarta in a system in which the lines of authority, budget, and personnel appointment run outward and downward. Regional and local governments enjoy little autonomy. Their role is largely administrative: implementing policies, rules, and regulations. Regional officialdom is an extension of the Jakarta bureaucracy. The political goal is to maintain the command framework of the unitary state, even at the cost of developmental efficiency. Governments below the national level, therefore, serve essentially as subordinate administrative units through which the functional activities of Jakarta-based departments and agencies reach out into the country.
In the early 1990s, there was neither real power sharing nor upward political communication through representative feedback. Real feedback occurred through bureaucratic channels or informal lines of communication. Elected people's regional representative councils (DPRD) at the provincial and district levels had been restored in 1966, after operating as appointive bodies during the period of Guided Democracy. However, the DPRDs' participation in the early 1990s governing was extremely circumscribed because the councils lacked control over the use of resources and official appointments. Even though 1974 legislation gave provincial DPRDs some voice in selecting their governors--DPRDs could recommend appointments from a list of potential candidates submitted by the minister of home affairs--provincial governors were still appointed by the president. District heads were designated by the Department of Home Affairs.
The structure of provincial-level and local government in Indonesia is best understood in terms of the overriding goals of national political integration and political stability. At the governmental level, integration means control by the central government, a policy that was in part conditioned by historical experience. At independence Indonesia consisted of the shortlived federal RUSI (1949-50). The RUSI was viewed as a Dutch plot to deny authority over the entire country to the triumphant Indonesian nationalists. Regional rebellions in the late 1950s confirmed the national government's view that Indonesia's cultural and ethnic diversity required tight central government control to maintain the integrity of the state. Political stability was equated with centralization and instability with decentralization. Civil control was maintained through a hierarchy of the army's territorial commands, each level of which parallelled a political subdivision--from the highest regional command levels down to noncommissioned officers stationed in the desa for "village guidance." Lateral coordination of civilian administration, police, justice, and military affairs was provided at each provincial, district, and subdistrict level by a Regional Security Council (Muspida). The local Muspida was chaired by the regional army commander and did not include the speaker of the local DPRD.
Added to the political requirement for centralization in the early 1990s was the economic reality of the unequal endowment of natural resources in the archipelago and the mismatch of population density to resources. The least populated parts of the country were the richest in primary resources. A basic task of the national government was to ensure that the wealth produced by resource exploitation be fairly shared by all Indonesians. This goal meant that, in addition to Jakarta's political control of the national administrative system, the central government also exercised control over local revenues and finances. Thus, the absence of an independent funding base limited autonomy for provincial and local governments.
About 80 percent of total public expenditure in the provinces was disbursed from the national budget controlled by departments and agencies headquartered in Jakarta. Of the 20 percent administered by the provinces, about half came from Inpres (Presidential Instruction) grants for infrastructure and other developmental purposes. Beginning in 1969, the Inpres grant programs at provincial, district, and village levels channeled about 20 percent of the development budget to small-scale projects for local development, with an emphasis on roads, irrigation, schools, and public health. Only about 10 percent of regional government revenue was derived from local taxes and fees.
Whereas once the central government's transfer of wealth from resource-rich provinces to people-rich provinces had been a source of political irritation for the better-endowed regions, by Repelita V (FY 1989-93), the lag in development investment beyond the Java-Sumatra western core was the most troubling. Suharto's 1992 New Year's message to the nation explicitly addressed this problem: "We are also aware," he said, "of the fact that there is a wide gap in the progress achieved by each region in our country, especially between the western and eastern part of the country." In looking to future policy, he added that there would be stepped-up efforts to provide autonomy and decentralization. Such steps, however, would require strengthening the capacity of subnational units financially and administratively, as well as strengthening local participation in the setting of national goals and policies. To some government leaders in the early 1990s, making concessions to economic and cultural claims for autonomy would endanger national unity. Conflicting interests of politics and administration presented special problems in the Special Region of Aceh and Irian Jaya and Timor Timur provinces.
Aceh is the westernmost part of Sumatra and the part of Indonesia where the Islamic character of the population is the most pronounced. The Acehnese demand for autonomy, expressed in support for the 1950s Darul Islam rebellion, was partially met by the central government's acceptance of a "special region" status for the province in 1959, allowing a higher-than-usual official Indonesian respect for Islamic law and custom. This special region status, together with growing prosperity, brought Aceh into the Indonesian mainstream. This change was reflected in the growing support among Acehnese for the central government, as indicated by votes for Golkar in national elections. In 1971, Golkar won 49 percent of the region's vote; in 1977, 41 percent; and in 1982, 37 percent. By 1987, however, with 51.8 percent of the vote, Golkar obtained its first majority, increasing it in 1992 to 57 percent. Nevertheless, during the early 1990s, the idea of an independent Islamic state was kept alive by the Free Aceh (Aceh Merdeka) movement, known to the central government as the Aceh Security Disturbance Movement (GPK). Thought to have been crushed in the mid-1970s, the guerrilla campaign of the insurgents, under the leadership of European-based Hasan di Tiro and with Libyan support, renewed its hit-and-run warfare in the late 1980s, hoping to build on economic and social grievances as well as on Islamism. ABRI reacted with crushing force and, as it sought to root out the separatists, civil-military relations were imperiled. But moderately pro-Golkar 1992 election results suggested there was no widespread alienation in Aceh.
Irian Jaya, the former Dutch New Guinea or West New Guinea, remained under Dutch control after Indonesian independence in 1949. A combination of Indonesian political and military pressure and international efforts led to an October 1962 Dutch transfer of sovereignty to the United Nations (UN) Temporary Executive Authority, which was supported by a military observer force that oversaw the cease-fire. In May 1963, full administrative control was handed over to Indonesia. After a 1969 Act of Free Choice, the territory, which the Indonesians called Irian Barat (West Irian) until 1972, was integrated into the republic as Indonesia's twenty-sixth province. Rich in natural resources, Irian Jaya (Victorious Irian)--as the province was renamed in 1972--in 1992 was the largest and least-populated province. Indonesia's efforts to exploit the resources and assimilate the indigenous Papuan and Melanesian populations into the national administration and culture met sporadic armed resistance from the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and aroused international concerns.
Although the OPM became a marginal domestic actor, more visible as an international symbol, the fact of its existence justified an intimidating Indonesian military presence in the province, where suspicions about Irianese loyalties led to abuses in the civil-military relationship. Cultural differences between Indonesians and the indigenous population and complaints about the Javanization of Irian Jaya exacerbated tensions. The cultural conflict was aggravated by indigenous people's perceptions that they were being left behind economically by a flood of Indonesian immigrants coming in via the central government sponsored transmigration program. Native-born Irianese also resented the so-called spontaneous immigrants who dominated the informal sectors of urban economies. International critics of Indonesian policy in Irian Jaya accused the central government of waging a kind of demographic genocide.
East Timor, the former Portuguese Timor, was incorporated into the Republic of Indonesia in 1976 as Timor Timur Province, although Portugal never recognized what it saw as the forcible annexation of its former territory. This incorporation followed Indonesian armed intervention in December 1975 in a reaction to a chaotic decolonization process and the declaration of the Democratic Republic of East Timor in November 1975 that had led to civil war. From Jakarta's point of view, this state of affairs held out the alarming prospect of a communist or radical socialist regime emerging under the leadership of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin). Moreover, Fretilin's rhetorical invocation of kinship with other Third World communist revolutionary movements raised the specter of a national security threat. Jakarta formalized its takeover of East Timor in July 1976 after the Indonesia-sponsored People's Representative Council requested that East Timor be integrated into Indonesia as a province. The human cost of the civil war--Indonesian military actions and the famine that followed--was heavy. Estimates of Timorese deaths because of the conflict between 1975 and 1979 range from 100,000 to 250,000. The ability of Fretilin to mount a low-intensity resistance, the draconian countermeasures adopted by Indonesian military forces against suspected Fretilin sympathizers, and charges of Indonesian aggression against East Timor combined to make the problem of the status of East Timor a continuing foreign policy problem for Indonesia in the early 1990s. For many individuals and nongovernmental organizations, as well as for some foreign governments, Indonesian policy in East Timor became the touchstone for negative attitudes toward the Suharto government. Internally, however, Indonesia considered East Timor an integral part of the unitary state, a status that, despite foreign criticism, was non-negotiable.
On paper, East Timor in 1992 conformed administratively to the general Indonesian pattern. In fact, however, de facto military rule existed. For ten years, Jakarta-appointed governor Mario Carrascal„o, a Timorese committed to integration, sought to moderate interethnic conflict and resolve intra-Timorese divisions among indigenous political parties. Carrascal„o called upon the Timorese people to understand that there were only three political groupings in Indonesia: Golkar, PPP, and PDI. Although the central government invested heavily in Timor's development with more Inpres funds per capita than any other province, resentment of Indonesian rule persisted and was growing in the early 1990s. The problem of integration in Timor was similar to that of Irian Jaya: the imposition of Indonesian political culture on a resistant population. Although Indonesian officials insisted that opposition to Jakarta's rule was confined to Fretilin hardliners, other forces were at work in ways that aggravated a sensitive political environment. The Roman Catholic Church staunchly defended the Christian identity of the Timorese in the face of an influx of Indonesians from other provinces. The church worried about the government's condoning, to the point of encouraging, Islamic proselytization, and about its own freedom of action in a national political system disciplined to Pancasila democracy. Pope John Paul II's four-hour stopover in Dili, the capital of East Timor, on October 12, 1989, called international attention to the church's extraordinary position in the province. The disruption of traditional and Portuguese institutions, as well as forced resettlement of segments of the population, led to land disputes, official corruption, and economic exploitation by non-Timorese Indonesians attracted to the province. These grievances were exacerbated by a heavy-handed military presence not always respectful of Timorese rights. One consequence of Indonesian rule was the spread of literacy and skills acquisition by a younger generation of Timorese who were faced with growing unemployment but who also were politically conscious. It was the emerging militancy of the East Timorese youth, rather than the scattered Fretilin elements, that seemed to pose the greatest challenge to security and stability in the province in the early 1990s.
Indonesian officials who were aware that on a per capita basis East Timor had received a disproportionate share of developmental funds interpreted Timorese resentments as ingratitude. Nevertheless, the combination of military pressure and economic and social development programs had progressed to the point that on January 1, 1989, East Timor was proclaimed an open province to which travel and tourism were permitted on the same basis as elsewhere in Indonesia. Some tensions followed a minor demonstration during the pope's visit, but a reshuffling of the lines of military command and a more determined effort by the new military leadership in the province to improve civil-military relations were expected to ease tensions even further. These hopes were dashed on November 12, 1991, when troops fired on youthful marchers in a funeral procession that had become a proFretilin political demonstration in Dili. At least 50 and perhaps more than 100 people were killed.
The National Investigation Commission appointed by Suharto found the army guilty of "excessive force" and poor discipline in crowd control. The senior officer in East Timor, Brigadier General Rafael S. Warouw, was replaced, as was his superior in Bali; three officers were dismissed from the army, and at least eight officers and soldiers were court-martialed. However, the punishments were relatively light when contrasted with the harsh sentences meted out to Timorese arrested as instigators of the incident. Nevertheless, the president's acceptance of a report that directly contradicted the army's contention that the shootings had been in self-defense and his willingness to take action against military personnel were pragmatic decisions that took the risk of offending ABRI members who preferred solidarity. The central government's main concern seemed to be to contain the international criticism of what some foreign observers called the Dili Massacre.
The November 12 affair confirmed that there were still strong social and political problems in East Timor. It also raised questions as to the relative efficacy of the differing military approaches. Some officers felt that the relative tolerance shown by the military to the restless youth since 1989 was too permissive and encouraged opposition. The Dili affair also pointed out the strong emotions on the military side, which led to the unauthorized presence of members of the local military garrison who were widely accused of misbehavior. The investigation commission mentioned this in its official report, stating "another group of unorganized security personnel, acting outside any control or command, also fired shots and committed beatings, causing more casualties." Carrascal„o called the replaced Warouw the "best military commander East Timor has ever had." Tragic as it was, the November 12 incident prompted both military and civilian government agencies to conduct a broad review of development and security policies in East Timor including the question of civil-military relations. In fact, Carrascal„o's successor, Abilio Soares, was also a civilian as had been widely expected.
More about the Government and Politics of Indonesia.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress