Baru to Reformasi
Australian National University
May 21 1998, the day that President Suharto announced an end to his 32‐ year Presidency, has achieved an almost mystical potency.On that day Indonesia entered an era of reform—reformasi—which promises a dismantling of the apparatus of authoritarian rule that had characterised the New Order (the self-descriptor of the Suharto regime). Student demonstrations at the national parliament were the immediate catalyst for change.These actions elevated the symbolic importance of the legislature as a seat of people's power (in contrast to its role as a captive of executive authority under the New Order) (see Forrester and May 1999 for a discussion of these events). Students—or more generally youth—have had a role as political actors in Indonesia from the days of the struggle for independence.Furthermore, the mobilising of a particular 'interest group' was in accord with the ideology of the New Order, which required political participation by individuals as members of 'functional groups' that were formally organised by the state as people's organisations (for women, farmers, workers and youth). The social role of women (as wives and mothers) had been valorised as a basis of the authoritarian power of the New Order (Robinson 1994).