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A Fragile Nation

The Indonesian Crisis

A Fragile Nation by L K Choy
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In May 1998, President Suharto stepped down as President of Indonesia.

With his fall, the third largest country in Asia has plunged into anarchy and political, economic and social strife. Racial and religious clashes, culminating in riots, burning and chaos, have become the order of the day. Fissures in the social fabric are widening and there is a real danger that this multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural country may disintegrate, just like Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

Indonesia today is a fragile nation, a country in crisis. It is breaking apart because just as Sukarno had failed in his interplay of strength between Communism and the armed forces, Suharto failed to keep the balance of power between the armed forces and Islam. Moreover, the Indonesian people, by and large, have lost the spirit of tolerance, symbolised in the Indonesian state crest, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). Without this spirit, so vital to a multi-religious and plural society, Indonesia is becoming economically ravaged, spiritually plundered, politically distraught, and socially incoherent.

The author served as Singapore's Ambassador to Indonesia from 1970 to 1974. His interest in Indonesia began many years ago from 1955, when he had gone to Bandung to cover the Afro-Asian conference as a journalist. As Ambassador, he had the opportunity to travel widely across the country and observe the Indonesians at close quarters. Today, his friends range from President Suharto, Indonesia's military leaders, governors, mayors, to ordinary citizens, journalists, musicians and artists.

In this book, he portrays the Indonesian people, their history and their cultural traditions. He provides insightful analyses and perspectives of the political collapse of Suharto and describes the danger facing the country. Describing the diversity in the history, traditions, customs and cultures of the various ethnic groups, he understands Indonesia like no other. Bringing the outsider's clarity of perception and the journalist-diplomat's experience of tradition and history, Lee Khoon Choy speaks with authority and credibility, passion and sensitivity about the challenges facing a vast, heterogeneous country that comprises 336 ethnic groups speaking 250 dialects.

Readership: General.

World Scientific Publishing Company; January 1999
489 pages; ISBN 9789814494526
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Title: A Fragile Nation
Author: L K Choy