Indonesia: Dark Side of Paradise

The Bali bomb has not only taken over a hundred and ninety innocent lives, but also destroyed Indonesia’s hopes for a democratic future. Until the bombing, it seemed that the country was inching towards greater stability, with the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri likely to survive until the 2004 parliamentary and presidential elections. Some even spoke of it being returned with an enhanced mandate, thanks to the introduction of direct voting for the presidency. Now all that has been thrown into question.

The World Today Published 1 December 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 4 minute READ

Peter Carey

Laithwaite Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, Trinity College, Oxford

Three developments will now shape Indonesian politics. All have serious implications both for President Megawati and the country. The first concerns Bali itself. The so-called ‘island of the gods’ is not only at the heart of Indonesia’s vital $5.4 billion tourist economy, contributing over forty percent of revenue, but it has also long been seen as one of the few places left in post-Suharto Indonesia where violent inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts have been held at bay.

With its unique blend of Hinduism and Buddhism, small Muslim population and reputation for tolerance, it had been perceived as somehow immune from the tensions of the rest of the country.

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