Opposing Suharto: Compromise, Resistance, and Regime Change in Indonesia

Opposing Suharto: Compromise, Resistance, and Regime Change in Indonesia

Opposing Suharto: Compromise, Resistance, and Regime Change in Indonesia

Opposing Suharto: Compromise, Resistance, and Regime Change in Indonesia

Synopsis

Opposing Suharto presents an account of democratization in the world's fourth most populous country, Indonesia. It describes how opposition groups challenged the long-time ruler, President Suharto, and his military-based regime, forcing him to resign in 1998. The book's main purpose is to explain how ordinary people can bring about political change in a repressive authoritarian regime.

Excerpt

In Indonesia today there are only two real choices: to be a “critical partner” or to be an underground subversive . . . most people choose the former.

Panda Nababan (interview, November 27, 1995)

This senior Indonesian journalist's comment neatly sums up the dilemma facing Indonesians who wanted democratization during the Suharto years. At least for middle-class critics in the big cities, the choice was never a stark one between total submission to the government and conspirational preparation for its overthrow. Instead, many options existed for those who believed that they could pursue change by gradualist and nonconfrontational means and voice criticism of the regime in indirect or careful ways.

This book presents a study of the development of opposition to Suharto's rule and the ways by which opposition undermined the legitimacy of his government, raised the costs of governing, and eventually forced Suharto from office. It is, in other words, a study of the methods used by opponents of Suharto to create political space, test his regime's limits of tolerance, and confront and challenge that regime. As the reader might expect, it is thus in many ways a study of bravery and audacity in the face of intimidation and brutality. Yet, as Panda Nababan's comment above suggests, it is also a study of ambiguity, ambivalence, and compromise.

The argument advanced in this book starts from the proposition that . . .

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