Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Friday, 16 February, 2001, 10:52 GMT
Indonesia: Is President Wahid still in control?
Is President Wahid still in control?
Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of President Wahid have been holding increasingly violent protests in the streets of Indonesia.

Fifteen months into his presidency, the country appears to be in a political crises. A majority of parliamentarians is now pushing for the president to be impeached.

When he became president in October 1999, Mr Wahid was regarded as a safe compromise figure to lead Indonesia into a new era.

Is Mr Wahid still in control of the country? Or has he lost the grip? What should happen in Indonesia?

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

Your reaction

Wahid is not in control of the country

Pathoni, Indonesia
Wahid is not in control of the country. He is not even in control of himself. He has lost touch with reality and during his 15 months in power he has created more damage than improvement.
Pathoni, Indonesia

Indonesia comprises well over 200 million people, spread un-evenly across more than 11,000 islands. If trying to keep the UK intact is a struggle for Blair (with the Welsh, Scots, Northern Irish, Cornwall, and Yorkshiremen all vying for independence), imagine how difficult it is trying to unite Indonesia.
Angus, Hong Kong SAR

He was never in control. The country is and always has been controlled by corrupt elements.
Pat Weir, Australia

Gus Dur is not perfect, but the alternatives are dead scary

Tim Gill, Hong Kong
Gus Dur is not perfect, but the alternatives are dead scary... Amien Rais inflaming the religious right; Suharto crony puppet Mega (who's had ample chance to prove otherwise and done nothing); or maybe Wiranto's friends will pull off a military coup? Gus Dur is doing as well as anyone could with the KKN legacy he inherited. I think he's being framed, and good on the East Javans for seeing through it.
Tim Gill, Hong Kong

No, Wahid is not in control and can never hope to be. The military has been the only group that have been able to hold the country together since the departure of the Dutch. There are too many factions, too many diverse groups to ever keep the country together without the threat of strong military force. This is the same as Tito and Yugoslavia. Once he was gone, the country came apart and went back to factionalism.
Jim, USA

What Indonesia needs to slow down and take a look at the big picture. A consistent trend propaganda fuelled enthusiasm followed by total depression and failure has developed as a result of 50+ years of corruption and ambiguous leadership. The country is forced to make so many quick decisions that it becomes caught up in itself beyond help. The next government needs to be thought out and totally removed from the country's past.
Jeremy Wendte, American in Indonesia

He does not have wisdom and principle to lead Indonesia

Arvandi Mulia, Indonesian in USA
Mr. Wahid is not a wise leader for Indonesia. He has lost the grip to control. From what I read on the newspaper, he always changes his mind. He does not have wisdom and principle to lead Indonesia. Now his position is hanging on the balance. After Buloggate and Bruneigate, I think people in Indonesia do not trust him anymore.
Arvandi Mulia, Indonesian in USA

The students wanted total reform. Instead they got pretend reform. The army still has its territorial structure which allows it to exercise some control in every province, region and village. Many of the corrupt businessmen are still in place. The gangsters who dominate places of entertainment, and street markets, and so much else, are still in place. The multitude of armed militias that work for politicians and generals are still in place. The corrupt civil servants are still in place. The exploitation of the workers and the country's natural resources, by unscrupulous foreigners, still continue.
Irfan, UK

Wahid is simply the right person in the wrong place

Ari Tamat, Indonesian
Wahid is simply the right person in the wrong place. He is an unequalled democrat and moderate - a moral force - who can lead this nation away from the false promises of militaristic nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism. But he is not an administrator, nor a diplomat - vital skills needed to lead this crumbling archipelago, filled with diverse interests vying for power.
Ari Tamat, Indonesian

I don't know what to believe now every time I read the newspaper. So many protests, and complaints either from some of the government people itself or from the public. When Gusdur was elected, I do believe he has the charisma and ability to turn things back to normal. But, with things happening nowadays, I do not know what to believe and what to hope for Indonesia.
Novi, Indonenesian in Australia

Having spent the last 14 months in Indonesia, I'd say that "nobody" is in control. The country is running on auto-pilot, led (and torn) by populist feelings of cultural and religious identity. The illusion of a "democratic Indonesia" is failing with Wahid, and the military is the only significant power. An Islamic State as a front for a military dictatorship is a possibility.
Ash, US

Indonesians are a very proud people

Alan Wilkinson, UK
Indonesia is still suffering the after-effects and continued influence from the long dictatorship of Suharto. In time it will rise above its current difficulties. Actually we may scoff at the power of the military but in many respects they hold the archipelago together. Indonesians are a very proud people and have immense pride in their nation, something the Brits lost a while ago.
Alan Wilkinson, UK

Wahid was never in control. Indonesia is a military dictatorship with a democratic facade and has been ever since Suharto, with the help of the CIA, liquidated the PKI, the only mass based political party in Indonesian history. The only reason that this fact is not widely known is that the Western powers, particularly the United States, Australia and Britain, have allied themselves with this brutal regime in order to exploit Indonesia's vast natural resources and abundant supply of cheap labour.
John M. Jackson, USA

The Indonesians who are politically and emotionally immature, (not all of them) cannot deal with the new freedoms that have been allowed since the fall of Suharto. This has lead to daily vigilante killings and patrols, (regular in Bali), and a rise in crime throughout the archipelago. Education is the only way that things can change here and this will take years. People need to realise the differences between 'anarchy' and 'democracy' and those who take advantage of the ill-educated populous to further their own personal agendas should be brought to task.
Scott Hemming, Briton in Indonesia

It is my belief that Wahid never really had all that much of a hope to hold control in Indonesia. As evident in his recent policy and behaviour, the country is coming apart at the seams. The loose group of peoples that make up Indonesia are now trying to separate themselves out into their different groups. The fact that different factions are now rumbling in Java, symbolically over Wahid, is hardly surprising.
James WH Macneil, Australian

I feel he lost control over his supporters and his presidency. Indonesia will have to deal with a lot of problems in years to come. The economy, political corruption, separatist movements, religious conflicts, the prosecution of the old regime which seems to be unsuccessful, the influence of the military. It seems Wahid is not the right man to unify, calm and bring prosperity to the country and neither is Megawati. If Wahid is guilty, impeach him, but what happens then?
Mike Liem, Germany

It looks like the people of Indonesia need to take control

Mike, UK
Is anyone? With separate flashpoints in various parts of the country, including at least two regions attempting to break free, several religious battlegrounds, a political/military tug of war and the judicial system blocked from bringing the corruption to an end... It looks like the people of Indonesia need to take control
Mike, UK (Australian)

I believe the sincere people of Indonesia are waking up and realising that Wahid or any other leader cannot dictate upon them a corrupt, hapless selfish, capitalist regime. What they realise is that Islam as a political ideology will help to serve their ever increasing problems, through the mechanism of an Islamic State.
Naziri, UK

Some, among the population, may have lost some amount of confidence on Wahid. However, they still prefer Wahid over the politicians of the Axis Force, who have made unholy pact with elements of the Suharto regime.
Widyarta, Indonesia

Gus Dur may seem to be erratic style of government. But he is consistent of being inconsistent, and however, best of the worst choice for Indonesia.
Wahtung chan, Canada

Well he was not the people's choice at the start

Chris, UK
Well he was not the people's choice at the start. Megawati won the election and the popular vote. Whether she would be any better is unknown but probably not worse than the "dynamic" Wahid.
Chris, UK

I believe the people in Indonesia have had enough to cope with the last three years. They don't want a 'new' crisis. In Jakarta, it is not the topic of the day and life seems to go on as usual with people complaining about traffic jams.
Van der Lingen, Indonesia

Sure. He is in control due to the premature memorandum given by the old regime parties such as Golkar and Axis Force. Those parties have angered most Indonesians, especially the grassroots. They are tired of the misleading reformation, because it has enabled some old regime backers to stay in power.
Erwin Maulana, Indonesia

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

08 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid to visit troubled Java
07 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid supporters torch Golkar office
07 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid under mounting pressure
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories