Friday, March 11, 2005

Indonesia and continuing social tension

Max Lane writes in Inside Indonesia about continuing social tensions after the elections.

Suharto became unpopular because of

(1) discontent among the elite

(2) discontent among the poor.

There had been large protests over the Kedung Ombo dam development in Central Java; there were big strikes at industrial plants like Great Rivers and Gajah Tunggal; there were protests about the land occupations of Cimacan and other areas... The basic problem was poverty and inequality.

Habibie, Wahid, Megawati and SBY have continued the New Order’s neo-liberal economic strategy, something that pleases the IMF and World Bank.

1. Subsidies on prices of basic goods have been reduced
2. Protection for Indonesian based industry and agriculture has been removed

The result:

1. Factory closures
2. Declines in important areas of agricultural production.

3. Strikes over privatisation, redundancy or pay.
4. Protests by farmers about land compensation or other issues.
5. Ocupations of university administration offices to protest against fee increases.
6. Protests by teachers, nurses and village administration employees about insufficient money.

The media is now worrying about further reductions in subsidies on fuel and the inevitable rise in prices.

Employers are pushing for a reduction in the minimum wage.

The new World Trade Organisation regulations, allowing more cheap imports into the country, could lead to more industrial zones closing down.

The elections have not ended the fighting amongst the elite about how power is shared.

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