TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Student demonstrations on a number of campuses 25 years ago put an end to President Suharto’s 32 years in power. Accompanied by violence in several regions, the mass demonstrations by students, known as the 1998 Reformasi movement forced Suharto, who had failed to deal with the economic crisis, to stand down from the presidency.
After a quarter of a century, the 1998 activists have gone different ways. Some of them have become politicians by joining parties with seats in the House of Representatives (DPR). Others have joined the government, or are sitting in comfortable chairs as commissioners of state-owned enterprises, but more than a few have remained consistent in their advocacy.
What is their contribution towards achieving the aims of Reformasi a quarter of a century later? We met with a number of them. Not only those sitting in the DPR, but also activists who were jailed because they opposed the New Order regime.
There are activists who previously campaigned stridently for those guilty of human rights abuses to be put on trial. But as soon as they joined the government, they changed their stance and helped push for human rights abuses to be resolved outside the courts. Activists who became politicians are no longer critical of government policy. They have turned into party officials working entirely for the interests of their parties, and have disappeared into the old parties that have remained unchanged since the New Order.
Not all former activists have chosen the ‘easy way’ like their colleagues. Some have remained true to campus activism and still advocate for marginalized groups. Others have gone into the art world or returned to campus.
Behind the upheavals of the 1998 Reformasi, which is still far short of realizing all that had been hoped from it, there are some touching stories. Opponents of Suharto not only demonstrated, but also acted clandestinely. Female activists wore disguises to avoid being detained by the authoritarian regime. Read the stories of these activists in our special report on Reformasi 25 years on in this week’s Tempo English. Happy reading.
Where did the 1998 Activists Go After Reformasi?
After Suharto fell, the 1998 activists took different paths. A relay race that has yet to reach the finish line.
What are the 1998 Activists Doing at the Palace?
A number of 1998 activists chose to work for the government. They are implementing the government’s agenda and have changed their stance.
When 1998 Activists Join Political Parties
Some 1998 activists joined political parties, including Golkar, which previously supported Suharto. They are close to party leaders.
Commissioner Seats for 1998 Activists
A number of 1998 activists have become commissioners of state-owned enterprises. This is a reward for supporting Joko Widodo.
1998 Activists Outside the Powers
Some activists have chosen not to join parties or work for the government. They advocate for human rights abuse victims or have become artists.
How did the 1998 Activists Build an Underground Network?
The 1998 Reformasi movement was also supported by people working clandestinely. They bought printing presses while being hunted by the authorities.
It Began with Protests over Milk Price Rises
A number of women activists wore disguises to oppose the New Order. They used the issue of soaring milk prices.
Photo Essay: The Student Movement, Then and Now
After the 1998 Reformasi movement, student activists slowed down. They continued to demonstrate against authoritarianism.
The Demands for the 1998 Reformasi Have not been Met
The 1998 Reformasi movement faded away without any significant achievements. Activists are trapped under the feet of those in power.
Gratifications for the Narcotics Division Officer
The police have yet to resolve the Achiruddin Hasibuan gratuities case. The KPK once intervened.
Army Chief-of-Staff General Dudung Abdurachman
General Dudung Abdurachman talks about resolving the conflict in Papua. He claims he has retuned the Army to its roots.
Java Power Project Delays
The operational plan for the Java 1 PLTGU continues to run behind schedule. The use of new turbines and gas pipes installation are a problem