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Friday, 4 June, 1999, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Golkar: the fisherman's friend
Indonesia's political storm has caused few ripples here
Despite the upheaval that rocked Indonesia, the ruling party Golkar still has strong support in the countryside ahead of elections on 7 June. The BBC's correspondent in Jakarta, Jonathan Head, reports from the island of Sulawesi.

Ahmad Madiani guides his boat effortlessly into port just as he has doen every day for decades. The election is causing few ripples in his tiny fishing village.

The fall of Suharto last year has changed little in the lives of the fishermen - not even their political loyalties.

Indonesia Flashpoints
"As far as I know everyone here supports Golkar," he says - especially since they chose Habibie as their presidential candidate. But the ruling party is taking no chances, even here in its stronghold.

Election monitors accuse it of using the local government to boost its support.

"Despite the fact that bureaucracy is supposed to be neutral," said Nasrun, a local election monitor, "it is already mounting an undercover campaign in all the villages to support Golkar's interests."

Golkar flags fly proudly
This is a land of plenty. Farmers in this fertile region have done well out of Suharto and his agricultural programmes.

The political turmoil in the cities means little here. Farmers like Lukman are happy to stick with their old habits. They are not even considering backing other parties.

"Of course I vote Golkar," he says. "They've won before, and it's obvious what they've done for us."

Farmers did well out of Suharto
The Golkar flags flutter proudly here. In other areas they would have been torn down. Here Golkar is showing its colours brazenly.

Even President Habibie, so unpopular elsewhere, is considered an asset.

There is money to be made in the warm waters of south Sulawesi. Global demand for prawns is soaring and an added bonus for Indonesian prawn farmers is that they get paid in hard currency.

Jusuf Kala got rich selling cars. Now he's cashing in on the boom in agri-business. But he is not about to abandon his party.

The prawn business is thriving
"I'm conservative," he says. "I don't like change. I supported Golkar in the past and I still do. I haven't switched to another party because I believe a man is judged by his consistency.

"Besides that, Golkar is still OK. Its policies seem fine to me and it's done a lot of good in this area."

With most of the pieces of their economy in place, the people of this region are less enthusiasitc about change.

It is a sentiment shared by other Indonesians who have also carved out successful businesses.

They may yet help the old elite to retain its hold on power.

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The BBC's Jonathan Head: "Political turmoil in the cities means little here"
See also:

02 Jun 99 | SPECIAL REPORT
03 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
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