Now, over a year on, the impact of the continuing communal violence in Maluku is reaching to the very heart of Indonesian politics. There is even talk of a creeping military coup against the democratically elected government of President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice-President Megawati Sukarno-putri. Richard Holbrooke, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, has spoken of a ‘great drama between the forces of democracy and reform and the forces of backward-looking corruption and militarism’.
The anti-Chinese riots that accompanied the downfall of the Suharto regime in May 1998, showed just what Indonesian military hard-liners were capable of. Today, the same components are in place. Economically and politically, Indonesia is still vulnerable to the stupidity and ruthlessness of the army dinosaurs.