Indonesia remains in a state of crisis despite the May resignation of former President Suharto, Indonesian opposition leader Amien Rais said during a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo.
“When (Vice President Bacharuddin Jusuf) Habibie was installed as president, taking over Suharto’s job, people had hopes that the new government would overcome our deep monetary crisis,” Rais said. “Unfortunately, we don’t see any good signs on the horizon.”
Rais, whose prodemocracy principles encouraged student protests that eventually led to Suharto’s resignation, said hope now lies in the fact that Indonesia has “come to a national consensus that only through an honest, direct and just general election, we can have a legitimate and credible government.”
Rais is leader of Muhammadiyah, a 20 million-strong Muslim organization. He is in Tokyo this week to meet with Japanese political leaders, including Democratic Party of Japan leader Naoto Kan, and encourage Japan’s active role in helping Indonesia toward democracy. Indonesia continues to be plagued by inflation, rising unemployment, a devalued currency and continued social unrest.
Rais criticized the IMF’s attempts to help Indonesia as getting too involved in the political affairs of the country, saying Indonesia “better look East instead of looking West” for help with its financial crisis. “Japan is also in trouble,” he said. “But still, I think Japan is our hope in Asia.”
That hope, he explained, is that a reconstructed Japanese economy would have a stabilizing effect throughout the region.
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