Friday, May 14, 2010

The Darkest Month of May

The month of May in the year 1998 is one of the darkest month in the history of the Republic of Indonesia.

It started on 4 May 1998 when thousands of students in Bandung, Yogjakarta and Medan protested against the increase of fuel price by the newly re-elected government of President Soeharto, which quickly developed into nationwide protest against the 32 years old authoritarian regime.

On 12 May, four students of the University of Trisakti, Jakarta were shot to death by snipers causing the students' take over of the building of the House of Representative (DPR), followed by violence which targeted the businesses of Chinese minority ethnics, many of their shops and houses were destroyed and their females raped.

The most horrible thing was that at that time the security forces do not seemed to be available in Jakarta, therefore causing a big tragedy and many people died/injured and their shops/houses destroyed and looted by the rioters.

According to widespread rumors, the tragedy was masterminded by someone who had a powerful position in the Army ad closely related to Soeharto, therefore trying everything possible to defend and preserve his power.

On 21 May, Soeharto stepped down from his throne and hand over power to Vice President B.J Habibie.

Unfortunately, until this present moment, the tragedy is still a mystery. Those who were supposed to be responsible were still untouched by the laws. Even those who were officially supposed to be responsible for security at that time remain untouched by the law, and are now holding public offices.

Considering the above, I believe that if Indonesia wants to have a better condition, today and in the future, investigation of this tragedy should be re-opened and those responsible should be revealed and tried in the Court of Law. If the government do not want them punished, they can always be given them pardon.

Related media reports  :
- The Last days of President Soeharto (The Jakarta Globe)
- Indonesia Must Never Forget May Tragedy (The Jakarta Globe)
- Mei Pecas Ndahe (Ndoro kakung)


Simon said...

Such a sad time, and unfortunately one that is still in the minds of many Chinese Indonesians here.

It has been brought up many times by Chinese friends in conversation - and something that many friends haven't ruled out happening again.

Let's hope instability and rioting can be avoided again. We don't want another Bangkok.

colson said...

Every nation has it's 'dark pages'. Indonesia isn't an exception. It's necessary though for national identity and sound & stable relations, to come to terms with the past.

Like Simon I know quite a few Indonesian nationals who still have to cope with the national trauma of May '98'. And, though the generation that had to live through it is gradually passing away, there is this other major national tragedy also: the massacres of '65/'66.

It would indeed be about time to start a broad, objective and thorough investigation in both national trauma's.

H. Nizam said...

Good to see you again.
It was very sad moments for every Indonesians.
The saddest thing is that those who are supposed to be responsible, officially or unofficially, are now in high positions.

Yes Colson, beside the May 1998 tragedy Indonesia still has the 1965 massacre of millions of people. Why didn't the international community press for investigations, like in other countries? Politics!!!

Anonymous said...

It remains me curious what led to the riot which blasted to Chinese and caused lotta people died and wounded.
I remember that Suharto was abroad those days, and nobody took control of security in Indonesia.

Poor those Chinese. They didn't deserve this.
But that was the climacs after 32 years of oligarchy in Indonesia.

I'm afraid, it's gonna happen again if we let descent of New Order characters take back the authority of Indonesia.

H. Nizam said...

Hi Vicky,
According to media reports, the rioters seemed to be organized
in what they did back then.
The problem is that the government and parliament since 1998 do not seem to care much about this matter.

Jewel said...

It is a shame about Thailand, hope they get their problems sorted out soon for everyone's sake.

H. Nizam said...

Thank you for your kind comment, which is supposed to be my other post about Thailand.
The latest development shows that the authorities there have finally asked the military to use force to settle the situation.