Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ten Years After

Ah yes.. May 21st 1998.. and Indonesians were stunned as Suharto stood before TV cameras at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta and announced he was standing down as leader. His speech to the nation was covered live on Indoneisan TV and there was instant jubilation across the archipelago.
On that day, as this drama unfolded, I was reporting from the ABC's office in central Jakarta. It was a mad scramble writing radio news stories and crossing for TV News interviews describing events as they unfolded. Later in the day I joined the celebrating crowds of students at Indonesia's parliament as they sang and danced beneath the fountain in the forecourt.

You can read about this day and the massive change of REFORMASI that engulfed Indonesia in my book RUNNING AMOK.

I had the privilege to host and "In Conversation" session this last week with one of Indonesias's leading writers and intellectuals Goenawan Mohamad. He remembers those days very well too. The magazine he helped found TEMPO was banned during the Suharto years.. for daring to criticise the state.. only to re-emerge as reforms including press freedom took shape.

Pak Goenewan reckons the greatest issue facing Indonesians in 2008 is the rise and rise of radical Islam.

What do you think?


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