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People power is back on the streets

People power is back on the streets
Suharto orders crackdown on unrest
Appeal for global help to combat traffickers
Five-year term for Western activist

Hongkong Standard (May 16, 1998)
People power is back on the streets
INDONESIA appears to be the latest Asian country to experience ``people
power'', a term first coined in the Philippines in the mid 1980s to
describe mass protests against corrupt, entrenched dictatorship. 
What began on the streets of Manila in 1986 has been reborn in several
countries in the region since; from Burma in 1988, to China in 1989, to
Thailand in 1992. 
All witnessed spontaneous popular uprisings that shook the foundations of
state power and in each case the role of the armed forces proved decisive. 
``In any country it's always the same,'' said Sant Hathirat, the leader of
the democracy federation that helped topple the military backed government
of General Suchinda Kraprayoon in Thailand in 1992. ``In any kind of
uprising, if the military power stays with those who are in power, then
it's very hard for the people to topple the government.'' 
In the Philippines, it was the decision of the army to side with the
opposition that brought about the downfall of Ferdinand Marcos's
``The army is the last trench of the old order, its last line of defence.
If the army breaks, the old order breaks,'' Alex Magno, a professor of
political science at the University of the Philippines, said. 
Mr Sant said it was an impending division in the Thai army after it opened
fire repeatedly on unarmed protesters May 1992 that led the King of
Thailand to broker a settlement and carried the day for the demonstrators. 
The armies of China and Burma did not break. They chose to stick with the
old order and resolve the political crises by shooting demonstrators off
the streets. 
``Although some elements within the (Chinese) military may have
sympathised with the students, overwhelmingly the military backed the
regime,'' said Tai Ming Cheung, an expert on China's People's Liberation
Army and affiliated with London's International Institute for Strategic
Studies. ``The importance of stability overrode all other issues''. 
Mr Cheung said the apparent inability of the police in Indonesia to cope
with the unrest was reminiscent of China nine years ago and this made it
even more likely that the army would be sent in. 
Bertil Lintner, a journalist and author of a study on the 1988 uprising in
Burma, spoke of the similarities between Burma then and Indonesia today. 
``In both countries, students started the whole thing . . . in both
countries they were up against an old regime with an old leader who treats
the country as his own private property . . . As was seen in Burma, a
spontaneous outburst of anger can translate into an uprising''. 
``In Burma, the army managed to hang together and that's why the regime
survived. It did not hesitate to carry out nasty orders. The question
really is whether the Indonesian army is going to prove as cohesive.'' -

Suharto orders crackdown on unrest
PRESIDENT Suharto yesterday ordered a crackdown on unrest and cut fuel
price rises that triggered an orgy of violence which has claimed hundreds
of lives. 
The veteran leader moved quickly to consolidate his position at an
emergency meeting with his ministers just hours after rushing back from
his visit to Egypt. 
He told the military and the government to take action against rioters and
looters and ordered a reduction in crippling fuel and electricity-price
rises imposed under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue deal. 
``The president gave instructions to take measures against those actions
which are clearly criminal such as looting, robbery and its kind,''
Information Minister Alwi Dahlan said. 
Mines and Energy Minister Kuntoro Mangkusubroto told parliament the
government, on the president's orders, was cutting fuel prices by between
8.3 and 20 per cent effective from today. 
It also cut the planned increase in electricity rates due for August and
``I apologise that the cuts are not as everyone has hoped for but this is
the maximum we can do,'' the energy minister said, adding the changes
would cost the government an extra two trillion rupiah (HK$1.25 billion)
in budgetary funds. 
The price rises, taken on the recommendation of the IMF, caused prices of
goods to soar even higher and helped ignite widespread rioting in Medan,
North Sumatra last week, and Jakarta. 
A new pro-democracy group of more than 50 public figures said the violence
was of great concern because of ``explosions of protests and mass anger
against the conditions and more especially against the government''. 
The People's Council, created on Thursday, called on Mr Suharto to step
down in the interest of the nation. 
Mr Suharto yesterday told several of his ministers at the Cendana
Residence that ``if the people no longer give their trust, there is no
problem'' for him to step down, Information Minister Alwi said. 
However, Mr Suharto stressed moves to unseat him would have to be done
The president answers to the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which
gave Mr Suharto a fresh five-year mandate in March. 
A major faction of President Suharto's political party yesterday turned
against the embattled leader, further jeopardising his rule, while
foreigners stampeded out of the riot-torn capital. 
Kosgoro, one of the major factions within Mr Suharto's ruling Golkar
party, issued a statement demanding Mr Suharto return the presidential
mandate bestowed on him by the country's parliament. 
``If he won't step down peacefully, then we must force him to leave,''
said a leader within Kosgoro. 
The charred bodies of looters at two burned-out shopping malls were a
grisly reminder that time may be running out for the 76-year-old autocrat. 
Many office buildings were nearly empty. Trading in the country's plunging
currency, the rupiah, was halted. Banks, many of which were ransacked the
day before, were closed. 
- Agencies 

South China Morning Post (May 16, 1998)
Saturday May 16 1998

Appeal for global help to combat traffickers 

Officials from Thailand, China, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia have
called on the international community to help deal with increasing drug
trafficking in the region. 
"There is a serious increase in traffic, new drugs coming to the region,
especially synthetic drugs which create a new challenge for officials,"
Christian Kornevall, the United Nations Drug Control Programme
representative in Bangkok, said yesterday. 
The traffickers were "extremely flexible" and changed patterns quickly.
This made it difficult to combat them. "Their resources are also much
bigger than ours," he said. 
The UN body sponsored a two-day conference which ended in Hanoi yesterday. 
The six countries, which account for a major share of opium and heroin
production and trade in the world, have tried to co-ordinate their
anti-drugs policies since 1995. 
At the close of the conference, they "strongly reasserted their
determination to fight the problems of drug abuse, illicit trafficking and
production" of opium and heroin in the region. 
They also signed agreements on projects to reduce demand among high-risk
groups of drug abusers, on the improvement of data collection systems, as
well as on cross-border co-operation for the reduction of opium poppy
In their joint declaration, they "requested the international community to
give concrete support and assistance to the sub-regional programmes
initiated by the UN body, which would contribute to the international
effort to fight against drug problems". 
These countries have decided for the first time to present a joint
declaration at the meeting of the UN General Assembly's Special Session on
Drugs to be held from June 8-10 in New York. 
The delegate from Laos, which forms the Golden Triangle together with
Burma and Thailand, said it was difficult to control the country's
He said Laos did not have enough resources to cover them and complained
that the traffickers were well organised

Saturday May 16 1998

Five-year term for Western activist 

A British-Australian national convicted of illegal entry and suspected of
"terrorist" activities was sentenced to five years in prison by a court
In addition to the five-year term, the maximum penalty for the offence,
James Rupert Russell Mawdsley was fined 50,000 kyats (HK$60,000) by the
divisional court at Yangon's Insein prison. 
The court said Mawdsley, 25, had 90 days to lodge an appeal on
compassionate grounds. It added that if he failed to pay the fine a
further 15 months would be added to his sentence. 
A legal adviser to the Australian and British embassies in Yangon said
Mawdsley could appeal to the High Court, where legal counsel could be
Mawdsley, who is also suspected by Burmese authorities of "terrorist"
activities, pleaded guilty at a trial inside the Insein prison compound on
Wednesday to charges of illegal entry. 
The dual British-Australian citizen entered the guilty plea after being
charged with violating Burma's Emergency Provisions Immigrations Act,
sources and witnesses at the trial said. 
A British Embassy spokesman said it was not clear why Mawdsley had been
handed out the stiffest possible penalty for a case of illegal entry, but
said the judge had raised earlier accusations of terrorism during the
"On the question of the appeal, we simply do not know, it is up to him,
and he is considering it at the moment, he is not sure yet," the diplomat

Yours sincerely,
Kyaw Zay Ya

"If you give a man a fish, he will have a meal. 
 If you teach him to fish, he will have a living. 
 If you are thinking a year ahead, sow a seed. 
 If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. 
 If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, educate the people. 
 By sowing a seed once, you will harvest once. 
 By planting a tree, you will harvest tenfold. 
 By educating the people, you will harvest one hundredfold."  (ANONYMOUS

("If it is not broken, don't fix it" leads to the worst situation.)