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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Will Megawati make a difference?
Megawati Sukarnoputri
Megawati Sukarboputri has taken over as Indonesia's president after Abdurrahman Wahid was dramatically dismissed from office.

Mr Wahid had earlier declared a state of emergency and refused to resign despite moves to oust him from power.

Indonesia is a huge country with a population of about 225 million people. It is riven with ethnic and religious divisions and its economy is faltering.

Will changing the president solve the country's problems, and does she have enough support? Can Megawati resolve the nation's troubles ?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The fact is, right wing politicians and the military were the reason for Megawati's ascent to power. If Megawati yields too much to the right wing politicians and the military, my Motherland's fate will be no different from her fate during Suharto's fascist regime period.
Mohammad Nanda Widyarta, Indonesia

Megawati's future and success depend on how well she can get on with her western allies

Yusuf, UK
The country's strategic position in the South Pacific has made it the most sought after country to the West. So Megawati's future and success depend on how well she can get on with her western allies.
Yusuf, UK

Give her time, Ibu Megawati will find solutions to most if not all of Indonesia's problems. Instead of giving support to her, many of the posters here have concluded that she is "dead-on-arrival". I think she is a formidable woman, who knows when to keep quiet and when to raise hell. Do not be mistaken by her shyness and demure disposition, as she can rise when the time is right and she understands the importance of appearance in the game of politics in Indonesia. Try to understand the shadow play (wayang kulit), then you may be enlightened with Javanese culture and practices. Revisit this site a year from now, and witness yourself.
Maggie, USA

I believe that in every bad thing, there is good, and in every dark, there is light. Megawati should prove she is different from the traditional politicians. You have to be bold and open and frank to do the job. She may be a helpless housewife but she can also be strong Goliath. Being a leader is not easy. You cannot please everybody. So! I pray to the New President, be different from the others. Show it to the world that you can change the tide. Help your people. Help the country. We shall support you then morally and spiritually.
Raymonjao, Philippines

Indonesia is going through a very difficult transition from an autocratic to a democratic society

Bob Lane, New Zealand
Indonesia is going through a very difficult transition from an autocratic to a democratic society. This transition alone will take at least 5 years, assuming the change is successful. Obviously, there are a number of tremendous hurdles Megawati must face in the transformation of Indonesia. No doubt, Indonesia must face these obstacles head on and change if it is to survive. One of Indonesia's nightmares still hovers, the Suharto family. Suharto still controls the country behind the curtain. He must be brought to justice, if Indonesia is to move forward.

The other obstacle is the treatment of the minority ethnic groups. Without justice and rectifying all the wrong doings of the past, Indonesia cannot go forward. Like a graduated student, Indonesia has yet to start work.
Bob Lane, New Zealand

I don't think Megawati can make a difference in the short term. I don't think she will overcome all the problems that now Indonesia faces, such as corruption, poverty and crisis economy as well as other problems that happen in Aceh, Kalimantan and Irian Jaya and East Timor. But we have given the opportunity to Megawati to do her job as president so we just wait and see if there will be change or not. The question that you raise is right, with change of president it will solve the problem? So just wait and see.
Elisa, East Timor

I hope that Megawati will be able to keep the fragmented archipelago together

Jacob Carlsson, Sweden
I hope that Megawati will be able to keep the fragmented archipelago together - the alternative is too frightening to ponder. An important part of the task will be to strengthen the precarious position of the Hindu and Buddhist minority. Unlike the more powerful Muslim and Christian groupings, Indonesia's Hindus and Buddhists have slowly been pushed to the margins during the past decade. Let us hope that Megawati will be able to turn the tide around.
Jacob Carlsson, Sweden

Maybe yes, maybe no - because Indonesia faces a lot of problems so I don't think so, but we have given the possibility to Megawati in order to run the country as new president of Indonesia.
Elma, East Timor

Megawati is a lady without opinions, backed by the army and political elite. Both are afraid of major change, and of corruption investigations. Indonesia won't change, but has a kindly, respectable face. That favours no change, in a nation that craves change. It's only a matter of time, before Mega becomes yesterday's news.
Markus Taylor, Indonesia

Surely, the two years she has been offered are not enough to make any tangible difference

Daniel, UK
At first glance it might seem odd that those who previously prevented Megawati from taking the presidency are now her keenest allies. However, pushing her into the firing line of high office at this stage may work in the favour of her true opposition within the MPR. Surely, the two years she has been offered are not enough to make any tangible difference and will only serve to erode some of her popularity - allowing the old guard to move in and take a full term come the next election.
Daniel, UK

Regardless of whether Megawati can do better, two points are certain. Firstly, she cannot do worst than Gus Dur, and secondly, she is just accepting what is rightfully hers in the first place, i.e. the presidency of Indonesia. It is ironic that when her party initially won the election that would make her president, she was rejected because she was a woman and the extremists declared this was unacceptable in an Islamic country. This time round, there was no objection! It is this inconsistency and lack of direction of the ruling elite that is mainly responsible for Indonesia's present situation.
Bernard Khoo, Singapore

Megawati has a double daunting task of reviving a faltering, fractious nation and keeping the iconic legacy of Sukarno intact. Given her predilection for silence and Javanese decorum, it would require some charismatic efforts by her government to push forward reforms to satisfy her peoples' needs and the respect of the international community. How apropos that the 100th anniversary of her father's birth saw the ascension of the "Daughter of the Republic."
Heru Mafudi, USA

This is a woman without opinions

Martin Patmore, Japan
Megawati does not give interviews or make public speeches because her advisors know that she has no real opinions. When Wahid tasked her with the day to day running of the cabinet her only concern was that meetings finished on time. When he invited her to choose the Supreme Court Justice she declined. This is a woman without opinions, little intellect and a woman who is easily manipulated. Her cabinet appointees will be the real decision makers so let's hope she limits the number of Golkar cadres and previous supporters of Suharto.
Martin Patmore, Japan

She gets the support of the people simply because of her father. Is she really good enough? I doubt it.
Wesley Ho, Hong Kong

I think the Indonesians are expecting far too much from her. She is just an ordinary housewife thrown into the limelight for the occasion by certain politicians. She will be unable to keep a nation of 220 million people together. She will just be a puppet for the military. The fragmentation of Indonesia which began with East Timor will now continue.
Nathan, India

To be a successful country is not only in her own hand or that of her leader, but also in the Indonesian people's hand. So, let's make one nation and one language together to build our country free from capitalism and tyranny.
Emey, UK (Indonesian)

To change the crisis in Indonesia is not like doing a magic show

Satry, Indonesia
Megawati is not a god. As an Indonesian the only thing we should do is pray and not ask her too much. She needs time to make up Indonesia. To change the crisis in Indonesia is not like doing a magic show. I'm afraid the parliament was not really serious when they decided to have Mega as the new president (it has been proved at last plenary session 1999). Ibu, Mega, don't worry, almost your people support you; just do your best and rely on God for everything you are going to do. Bless you.
Satry, Indonesia

Megawati is a silent politician, but she is well known as an honest person, adherent to the constitutions, and reliable. This is part of essential requirements that Indonesia need from their leader right now. She needs to be supported by highly capable and equally honest people in order to solve the many problems of this country. I truly wish her very good luck.
Heru, New Zealand

Megawati will never succeed. She will never be able to identify herself with all the masses of people, which number over 200 million. Indonesia has seen promises of structural reforms, lower unemployment and better standards of living, but as of yet no one has been able to deliver. The stock market crashes in the late 1990's followed by the devaluations of the currency have done nothing but further deepen their position in problems. Indonesia doesn't need another leader like Gus Dur or Suharto but needs a leader, who is honest and has integrity and of course one that will not scrape the rubbish off his Western leader masters' shoes.
Zamir, UK

Indonesia has a lot of problems both political and economic. Though she may not resolve all the current problems in the country, Megawati seems to be more able than her predecessor.
Chibamba Douty, Zambian student in Brunei Darussalam

It frightens me the amount of faith they have put in this previous dictator's daughter

Dana Pickering, New Zealand
Quite understandably Indonesia is looking for a saviour. Unfortunately the dreams of a majority of Indonesians lie with the figurehead Megawati. My concern is that she has reaped the plaudits of her father rather than her own so-called 'achievements'. One should not forget her father was no saint and she has risen to power on his reputation rather than her own. The Indonesian people are understandably desperate and it frightens me the amount of faith they have put in this previous dictator's daughter.
Dana Pickering, New Zealand

The power now being placed in the next President's hands, will not stop the ethnic cleansing, the hatred and terrorism. These fanatical groups have their own agenda, as do the army, police and paramilitary. A change at the top will not suddenly invoke undying devotion and ensure respect for all races and religions.
Alan Cameron, Scotland

I have been closely following the political developments in Indonesia. Indonesia is one of the most corrupt nations in the world and the politicians there are responsible for all sorts of ethnic and religious problems in the country. I don't think the new President, Megawati, can resolve the problems. It is not just the ability to do that. What is more important is political will. Quite unfortunately, the so-called leaders in Indonesia are not interested in bringing about peace in the country. Another important point to be noted is that there are not many human rights organisations in Indonesia.
Albert P'Rayan, Rwanda(Indian)

Megawati has the most supporters. Hopefully, stability will start from her presidency after all this political and economic uncertainty.
Cakrie, Indonesia

Megawati's challenge is to provide the national and regional leadership

Freddie Tan, Singapore
The election of Megawati provides fresh hope for ASEAN, which is in dire need of a strong regional leader to help solve its economic, social and environmental problems. Indonesia, being the largest country in ASEAN, provided the leadership when Suharto was the Indonesian president. Since then, ASEAN is like a bus without a driver. Megawati's challenge is to provide the national and regional leadership so as to bring about peace and prosperity to the region. It is indeed a daunting task.
Freddie Tan, Singapore

She offers no change, the army will be able to influence Indonesian politics more and the crackdown in Papua will intensify.
Craig, Australia

Megawati will face the same enormous problems as her predecessor faced

Kanzarina J Kalalo, Indonesia
Megawati will face the same enormous problems as her predecessor faced. I am not very confident of her ability to solve them, especially since she has always waited for things to develop not by her interference but because of the political elite groups taking the course of history in hands. Her father was a great freedom fighter but failed to bring prosperity to the Indonesian people. He steered us out of the UN, got into war with neighbouring countries and kicked all foreign investors out. I do hope that she will pay more attention to the hopes of the Indonesian people which under Wahid were almost totally neglected. We do not need an idolised leader, we want a capable and strong leader.
Kanzarina J Kalalo, Indonesia

Megawati is not only the daughter of the founder of the nation, but also the daughter of the nation.
Gamini Fonseka, Australia

I am an African, from Democratic Congo (former Zaire). I wish the new Indonesian president will be a great leader, not only for her country but for the Third World as a whole. The African history has always been closely related to Asia's one, as shown by the Bandoung conference from which the struggle for African indepence received large support. I believe that Indonesians will be wise enough to avoid the way of confrontation advocated by Gus Dur and his followers. He has to leave the power peacefully. I invite those in Indonesia who want to burn their country to look at what happened to Africa after decades of useless battles and destruction. My sisters and brothers, it is time to re-build your country-continent. The World expects more from Indonesia now than ever.
Jean-Claude, Japan

The next important step is to determine who the Vice President is

Kym, Indonesia
The next important step is to determine who the Vice President is. It's a challenge for Megawati and her party. The 'only' logical option is to take Hamzah Haz (Chairman of PPP) to heal the wound of the Islamic (especially NU) groups and prove that the problem was Mr Wahid himself and nothing to do with her Islamic allies. This could signal a move for a real national reconciliation as she has repeatedly said.
Kym, Indonesia

She was elected by the Indonesian people. She is the right person to be a president. I hope that she will work hard to bring the country up. All the best to Indonesian President Megawati. International community also supporting her. So this is the positive move. Hope Golkar will also support and help her to bring the country up.
Palani G, India

Since the founding of Indonesia, the army has been playing a major role in bringing down all the three presidents of Indonesia. The army is a traditional supporter of Golkar, and Golkar has remained a strong organised political party, even after Suharto's downfall, and succeeded in bringing Wahid down. Now with Megawati as the president, there will be a power struggle between PKI and Golkar. Unless Megawati gains the support of the army, she will never resolve the political dispute that is to come soon.
Sukardi, Indonesia

She will be a great leader for Indonesia

Vijanth, Ireland
Megawati is just like her father Sukarno, a nationalist - she will be a great leader for Indonesia. I hope she will also be like her father strengthening ties with ASEAN countries too.
Vijanth, Ireland (Malaysian)

Popular support is one thing, ability to lead is another. At least Megawati has a mandate from the people to be the leader, unlike gus dur.
Chris Chow, UK/Indonesia

If Megawati is going to emulate her illustrious Asian sisters from India, Israel, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, she is going to be a tough cookie, although her record so far doesn't indicate that. But one never knows how a person will change once he/she comes to power. Hope things improve for that country. I wish her all the luck - she is certainly going to need it.
Kishore Nadkarni, U.S.A.

As an Indonesian myself, I really wish Megawati the very best of luck. She's going to change the history of the country and the fate of the people is now in her hands. What is important is that the economic crisis in Indonesia is solved as early as possible, as it may affect the economic progress of the country.
Tasuki, Singapore

A power vacuum in a state as volatile as Indonesia could indeed prove very risky to the entire stability of the region

Eli Oshorov, UK
I wish Megawati all the best in trying to solve Indonesia's problems, but she does not have an easy task ahead of her. Last week's ransacking of churches is evidence of the deep ethno/religious divisions which seriously threaten to tear the country apart, not to mention the deep antagonism of many regional populations to rule from Jakarta and the high level of economic influence enjoyed by Chinese Indonesians. The threat of her not succeeding in holding the republic together would mean a huge shift in the balance of power in South-East Asia. As by far the most populous country in the region, a power vacuum in a state as volatile as Indonesia could indeed prove very risky to the entire stability of the region.
Eli Oshorov, UK

I was in Indonesia during the first free elections, and Megawati undoubtedtedly enjoyed the greatest popular support. However, it was parliament with the collusion of Amien Rais, now Wahid's most vociferous opponent, which cynically blocked her bid for the presidency. Should we have any faith in this legislature? It saddens me to see the Indonesian people let down so badly by their supposed representatives.
Ian, UK

Expectations are so high. I hope Mega won't fail. It seems to me that it's Indonesia's last chance!
Guy, Canada

Good luck to you Megawati, you're going to need it!

Lesley, France
Having lived in Indonesia at the time of Suharto's demise and seen the enormous popular support for Megawati, I wish her all the best. I only hope she doesn't disappoint all those people who idolise her as her father's daughter, and have placed her on a very high pedestal. Indonesia needs a good and strong leader. Good luck to you Megawati, you're going to need it!
Lesley, France

Another family member.
Andrew, IOM

Megawati won't be able to accomplish much due to the visible fragmentation of Indonesia along religious and ethnic lines. Fortunately she has the police and army on her side.
Mirek Kondracki, USA

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23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian president sacked
09 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Indonesia
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