Indonesia History in the 1980’s

Indonesia History in the 1980’s

In the Eighties in Indonesia you can see the signs of a political and economic stability that contrasts with the alternating events of other East Asian countries. A stability largely due to the firm control of political life and public order typical of an authoritarian system, which allows democratic freedoms within limits that are not always precise and official, but nevertheless insurmountable; This is demonstrated by a series of events which, despite their sporadic and marginal nature, are symptoms of potential danger.

The economic situation was characterized in those years by the drop in the price of oil, which committed the government – Indonesia is a member of OPEC – to a radical change in the entire economic policy: it was necessary to focus more and more on the export of non-petroleum products. A highly positive event was the achievement in 1984 of self-sufficiency in rice production, an event which meant for the Indonesian people the achieved independence from abroad for their own food. The historic announcement was made by President Indonesia Suharto in Rome, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of FAO, on November 14, 1985. On the contrary, the program of transmigration from the overpopulated areas of Java and Bali to sparsely inhabited islands failed to take off. For Indonesia 2003, please check

At the beginning of 1988, on the occasion of the visit to Indonesia of G. Goria (the first of an Italian head of government), accompanied by the Foreign Minister G. Andreotti and representatives of Confindustria, Italian economic observers pointed out the objective difficulties that hindered a more consistent Italian presence in Southeast Asia, an area dominated by Japanese production (for Indonesia, more than 25% of imports). In the same year, FIAT opened a factory in Java.

The political elections of 1982 and 1987 confirmed the growing dominance of Golkar, the government-backed grouping of professional categories (73% of the votes). The two authorized parties constituted modest minorities: the Islamic PPP (Unified Development Party), with 16%, the PDI (nationalists, Christians) with 11%. The massive commitment of men and means by the government and provincial authorities in the electoral campaigns for Golkar could not fail to bear fruit. Press rumors about alleged infiltration of ex-communist elements in the PDI (the communists were considered subversive) did not damage the fate of the party, however, which actually registered a slight increase.

Repeatedly, the authorities warned the public of the continuing danger of sabotage and propaganda by the Communists. It is significant that twenty years after the ban of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party), there was a vast operation of ” cleansing ” in the public administration, with the removal from the services of vital interest of elements involved in the attempted coup of the 1965 or Communist sympathizers. On September 26, 1986, the death sentence was carried out on four leading exponents of the dissolved PKI.

On another front, that of Islamic extremism, there were also reasons for continuing concern. The bill, disliked by Muslims, which imposed acceptance of the official political philosophy, Pancasila, on all social and religious organizations, caused lively protests. In September 1984 riots broke out, quelled by the army with tanks, in Tanjung Priok, the port area of ​​the capital. Numerous were the dead, the wounded, the arrests. In the following two months, bombings and arson attacks occurred in Jakarta and elsewhere. A Chinese bank, Chinese department stores and shopping centers were targeted. In November, prominent figures were among those arrested, such as former general Dharsono, former ASEAN first secretary general (Association of South-East Asian Nations), sentenced after seven years in prison for subversive activities. The disputed law nevertheless entered into force in June 1985.

In 1983 and 1988, the renewed national assemblies confirmed for the fourth and fifth time Suharto, the only candidate, for the presidency of the Republic. The choice of the vice-president, as his foreseeable successor in 1993, showed great interest in 1988 – having Suharto declared that he did not want a lifetime presidency. Sudharmono, secretary general of the Republic, a man from Golkar, very close to Suharto, but disliked by most of the high ranks, many deny the qualities of a possible head of state.

On the international level, at the end of the Eighties there was a rapprochement of the Indonesia to China, which was a prelude to the resumption of diplomatic relations, desired by both sides and which took place in August 1990. In November of the same year Suharto made an official visit to China and Vietnam. On the other hand, the solution of the dispute over the former Portuguese Timor, annexed by military manu by Indonesia, seems far away. The negative attitude of the UN and the break with Portugal remain. The bloody repression of a hostile demonstration against Indonesia in the capital of East Timor, Dili, on 12 November 1991, which caused the death of about a hundred Timorese, resulted in severe stances against the Indonesian government in various countries of the world, especially in Portugal and Holland.

The general elections of June 1992 saw once again the victory of Golkar (who had presented himself as guarantor of stability and development) with 68% of the votes, but also marked a success of the two opposition parties: the PPP had the 17, 5% and the PDI 15%.

Indonesia History in the 1980's

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