Can-do spirit amid chaotic transition
Indonesia is still trying to get back on its feet after a crippling economic downturn. As if that is not hard enough, the country is also looking to make the transition from a dictatorship to a democracy. The currency weakened again last month and the ratings agencies are nervous. Against the odds, Indonesia’s crisis management skills are improving.
It doesn't take much to knock Indonesia off track. As it struggles with an exceptionally difficult political transition from dictatorship to democracy and fights to recover from a devastating economic downturn at the same time, the slightest outbreak of trouble can easily become a crisis.
In March, the rupiah again crashed through the psychologically-important 10,000 to the dollar mark, sparking panic selling in the stock market and jitters at the rating agencies.
This time the cause was twofold: serious violence on the island of Borneo, where indigenous locals drove out immigrant Indonesians, killing 400; this was followed by US oil major Exxon Mobil ceasing production of liquefied natural gas in the troubled province of Aceh for security reasons.
In Jakarta, opponents and supporters of president Abdurrahman Wahid took to the streets, one group demanding his removal, the other threatening violence if he did not stay in power.