Indonesia, a country of a thousand plus islands, some large and some tiny, has certainly had its share of troubles in the last few years. Some of it political: like the merciless genocide of Christians in Ambon (until they started fiting back and won international support) beset by Islamofascist hordes urged on by preachers recruiting on other islands. And like the terror-bombers of the crowded nite-club for Westerners in Bali. Some of it not at all political in its immediacy: like the tsunami floodwaters and winds that wreaked havoc from Aceh to Sumatra. And now another "natural disaster" striking the ancient Buddhist city of Yogyakarta ...
As night fell across the disaster zone -- stretching across hundreds of square miles of mostly farming communities in Yogyakarta province -- tens of thousands of residents prepared to sleep on streets, in rice fields and in back yards, fearful of aftershocks. International agencies and other nations promised to send relief immediately.The death toll yesterday was said to be 3,700, as reported by Irwan Firdaus to Associated Press (May28,2k6). Today the figure is rising slowly, and will probably continue to do so.
[President Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono's fast, hands-on work might have gotten lost in media coverage of a disaster that's killed more than 4,000, left 20,000 injured, and displaced more than 200,000. But it's worth noting that Indonesia's long-time dictator, Suharto, who was forced out of power by street protests in 1998, rarely, if ever, reacted to disasters in such a direct way. (Just in the past 17 months alone, Indonesia has had four disastrous earthquakes.) Suharto was aloof and worked in the shadows, like many unelected leaders.The president of Indonesia has brawt new luster to his office - and has tackled many problems from the most recent pre-positioning of emergency relief provisions near the volcano-rumbling mountain to his anti-terrorist campaign and simultaneously his anti-corruption campgaign.
The return of democracy to Southeast Asia's giant hasn't been easy, but under Yudhoyono, a former general, a mood of reform and responsiveness has helped bolster this archipelago nation of 220 million people and 17,000 islands.
His boldest steps have been on the economy. Last October, he took political heat by deeply cutting subsidies on fuel. That raised prices dramatically, but he coupled the move with temporary aid for the 1 in 4 Indonesians who live in poverty. And he has helped slash government debt even though it brought higher joblessness. He's getting high marks from foreign economists, although his domestic popularity is slipping.Sometimes the best leaders are not recognized as such until after they've left office, or are dead and gone. Perhaps Pres. Yudhoyono will be an exception, despite current trends. - Politicarp
Prambanan Hindu Temple comlex closes
Aid begins to arrive in quake zone