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Democratizing Indonesia: Reformasi Period in Historical Perspective

Research Papers

No.1

August 2003

Introduction

Triggered by the Asian currency crisis, Indonesia plunged into the times of violent change. With the downfall of the long-standing Soeharto rule in May 1998, changes of the state order started with great magnitude and rapidity under a new banner of “reformasi” (reform). What changes have occurred in this reformasi period? What do these changes signify? To answer these questions, it would be better to have a certain yardstick to allow us comparison. One possibility is to use a yardstick of history. What picture will emerge if we see the current array of changes in long-term historical perspectives is a main question of this paper. This paper intends to provide a bird’s-eye picture illustrating where in the Indonesian history the current restructuring of the state order is located. Rather than focusing on a specific area, I here attempt to broaden our outlook on Indonesia’s political, economic and social arenas in order to identify what are happening in these arenas, how they are mutually related, and what those events signify in the Indonesia’s historical context.

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