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Colonial period

Sukarno's presidency

Suharto's presidency

Habibie's presidency

Abdurrahman Wahid's presidency

Colonial period 1600s-1945

1600s -- The first Dutch arrived in Indonesia in search of spices and wealth; in 1605 the Dutch East Indies Company kicked out the Portuguese from their stronghold in the Spice Islands, now known as the Molucca (Maluku) islands.

1908 -- A group of Javanese medical students set up Boedi Oetomo, an organization that would spearhead the nationalist sentiments in the colony

1928 -- Oct 28, Various youth organizations from all over the colony attended a congress in Jakarta and declared a landmark oath: "One country-Indonesia, one people-Indonesia and one language-bahasa Indonesia.

1942 -- The Dutch surrendered to the Japanese in March and ended its 350-year rule.

Sukarno's presidency 1945-1966

1945 -- Aug 15, Japan surrendered to the Allies Forces, two days later on Aug 17, longtime nationalist activists, Sukarno and Mohamad Hatta declared Indonesia independence on Aug 17 and became, respectively, Indonesia's first president and vice-president. A constitution was hastily drafted and later was known as the 1945 Constitution.

1945-1949 -- Independence war: Relying on the guerilla warfare, Indonesian rag-tag army, some were trained by the Dutch and some by Japanese, battled the returning Dutch military, helped by the British Allied Forces.

1949 -- In the Roundtable Conference in Den Haag, Dutch agrees to recognize Indonesia's independence as the a federal state, called the United States of the Indonesian Republic

1950 -- Aug 17, Indonesia disposed federal state and reverted back to the form of unitary state

1955 -- Indonesia held its first general elections to elect members of the Parliament and the Constitutional Assembly. Four parties receive the most votes: Sukarno's Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) got 22.3 per cent votes, two Muslim parties came second and third: Masyumi receives 20.9 per cent, while Nahdlatul Ulama 18.4 per cent, Indonesian Communist Party obtained 16.4 per cent.

Konstituante, or the Constitutional Assembly whose members were elected in a general election, draft a new constitution to replace the 1945 Constitution.

1958 -- Armed rebellions in various parts in the country shook the national unity. The biggest blow is PRRI revolt in west Sumatra, launched by a group of disappointed military officers - supported by the CIA.

Chief of staff Maj-Gen. Abdul Harris Nasution unveiled "The Middle Way" doctrine that Indonesia's military should be a military force, as well as social-political force.

1959 -- Diverse political views caused Konstituante's members bickered, in mid-year, or nine months before they were scheduled to finish, Sukarno stopped its proceedings, returned to the 1945 Constitution.

He ushered in "Guided Democracy" to replace the parliamentary democracy, relying mostly in his persona and the feeble coalition forces between strange bed-fellows: the Nationalists, Religious and Communists (Nasakom)

1963 -- Hostile to the west, Sukarno launched "Konfrontasi" (confrontation) policy, a military campaign against Malaysia to protest the establishment of the Malaysian states Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island.

1965 -- Sept 30, an alleged communist coup by the so-called "Sept 30 Movement" killed six generals (including army commander) and one lieutenant. Armed forces chief Gen. Nasution escaped. The next morning Maj-Gen. Suharto, who headed the Army Strategic Reserve Command, seized the situation, including the army's control. He blamed the Indonesian Communist Party as the coup-plotter.

1965-1966 -- A massive communist witch-hunt spread across the nation; by a moderate estimate, around 300,000-400,000 Communist Party members, sympathizers, Chinese descent and others considered communist symphatizers were slaughtered.

"The New Order" -- Suharto's presidency 1966-1998

1966 -- Amidst massive student protests that demanded president's resignation, on March 11, the mysterious "Supersemar" (Letter of March 11) was wrung from President Sukarno, giving Suharto a presidential mandate to take whatever steps necessary to preserve the security and the nation.

Suharto banned the Communist Party the next day and rooted out people he distrusted from the government and parties. Along with loyal military officers took Nasution's "Middle Way" to establish the military's dual function in military and socio-politics.

1967 -- The Parliament named Suharto acting president and installed him as president a year later.

Suharto turned into western-trained economists, henceforth known as technocrats, to revamp Indonesia's dire economy.

Golkar was created to include the "functional groups" of peasants, civil servants, labour unions, businesses, but also to allow military's legitimate involvement in politics.

1971 -- The first New Order elections were held. With massive intimidation and vote-rigging, Golkar won an overwhelming 63 per cent of the votes while Sukarno's time parties lagged behind in wide margin.

1973 -- Nine political parties (excluding Golkar) were "encouraged" to dissolve themselves. Hence, two political parties were created: the United Development Party, a grouping of Muslim parties, and the Indonesian Democratic Party, which attracted nationalist and Christian parties.

1974 -- During the visit of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka to Jakarta, "Malari" (Jan. 15 Incident) erupted as protests against Suharto, corruption and foreign investment. The loyal Gen. Soemitro, the head of Kopkamtib internal security agency, was blamed for inciting the unrest and sacked.

Twelve newspapers were closed, hundreds of people were put on trial for role in the riots. Campus mood was subdued, and the media was careful. The Malari incident is said to "set the tone of the New Order."

Portugal suddenly departed from its colony East Timor, in the eastern half of Timor island.

1975 -- Pertamina, the state oil company and a model for the third world development, collapsed after over-borrowing at massive interest rates. It survived only after a mammooth government's bailout.

In December, Indonesia invaded East Timor after the leftist Fretilin party won the elections and a brief civil war that followed.

1978 -- "1978 Campus Normalization Law" squelched political activity on campuses.

1979-1980 -- A group of 50 retired officers and outspoken civilians submitted a letter to Suharto, later known as "Petition 50", demanding political reforms. Suharto revoked travel permits and banned media reports of them.

Early 1980s -- The economic situation has turned around for Suharto: Bumper harvests of rice, rise in oil price, flowed money into government coffer. More curbs were placed on political freedom.

1982 -- Golkar scored major victory in the general elections with 64 per cent of the casted votes.

1984 -- Tanjung Priok incident: military confronted 1,500 Muslims who protested in Jakarta over a sacreligious behavior of one army officer with shootings, killing around 400 people.

Suharto decreed all social-political organizations must declare Pancasila (the five principles of belief in God, humanism, nationalism, democracy and socialism) as their sole ideology - an irk for many Muslim groups.

1987 -- The withdrawal of Nahdlatul Ulama, one of the major Muslim parties, from the United Development Party benefitted Golkar in the general elections. Golkar won a landslide victory with 72 per cent of the votes.

1989 --Suharto declared the resource-rich Aceh province as a military operation zone to quash the Free Aceh Movement.

1992 -- Children of former president Sukarno, including his eldest daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri, campaigned for the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Although Golkar still won 68 per cent of the ballot in the general election, it saw its share down six percentage points

1993 -- Suharto began his sixth presidential term, PDI elected Megawati its chairwoman. Public criticisms increased as the business of his children, family and cronies grew and dominated the economy.

1994 -- The government banned three news magazines, Tempo, Detik and Editor, for publishing stories of Technology Minister B.J. Habibie brokered the controversial purchase of old East German ships for the Indonesian navy in a much inflated price. The ban triggered journalists' protests, intellectuals' dissident movement and the establishment of the Alliance of Independent Journalists.

1996 -- Megawati Sukarnoputri was ousted from chairmanship of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) in a government-orchestrated congress. Megawati's rivals, aided by military, violently took over the PDI headquarters from her supporters in late July; anti-government riots erupted.

1997 -- General elections held in mid-year, the ruling Golkar won an overwhelming 74 per cent of the votes. Financial crisis hits Asia as well as Indonesia; the country turned for the International Monetary Fund for financial help.

1998 -- The crisis hits harder, in early year the rupiah dipped to a lowest level, high inflation, panic-buying.

Elected president for the seventh consecutive times, Suharto formed a new cabinet and filled it with his cronies, including daughter Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana and businessman/golf partner Bob Hassan.

Students mounted anti-Suharto protests; four students were shot dead on May 12.

Riots engulfed Jakarta, targetting mostly Chinese-Indonesians, dominated the country's trading class. Dozens of ethnic Chinese women were raped, and around 1,200 people - mostly poor urban folks - were killed in a fire that burnt looted department stores.

Suharto resigned on May 21, replaced by his protégé, Vice-President B.J. Habibie.

Habibie's presidency 1998-1999

1998 -- In a gesture of goodwill, President Habibie released a number of political prisoners, abolished press control, resulting in the explosion of print and broadcast media, as well as scaling down military operation from the restive Aceh and East Timor provinces.

1999 -- January a minor dispute between a Christian and a Muslim in Ambon sparked into major religious clashes and spread to other parts of the Molucca islands. Habibie offered option of independence to East Timor

June -- a total of 48 parties contested in the first free general elections since in 1955: Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle won the most votes, while the tainted Golkar still secured a second place.

Aug 30 -- East Timor voted in a U.N.-organized independence referendum - an idea first floated by Habibie in earlier of the year. Despite the intimidation of pro-Indonesia militias, 97 per cent of the voters opted for independence and later suffered the wrath of militias, killing people and razing buildings.

Sep 20 -- Australia-led UN security force arrived in East Timor

Abdurrahman Wahid's presidency 1999-

1999 -- In October 20, the 695 members of the People's Consultative Assembly elected Abdurrahman Wahid, chairman of the biggest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, as the fourth Indonesian president - and the first one to be democratically elected in the country's 54-year history.

2000 -- January, Wahid's personal masseur took $4 million from the state logistics agency, allegedly saying he got an order from the president. In the same month, Wahid allegedly received $2 million personal donation from Sultan to Brunei to be used for humanitarian work in Aceh. The two scandals, known respectively as "Buloggate" and "Bruneigate" broke out to the public some months later.

August -- Wahid re-shuffled his cabinet, putting new faces while alienating Megawati's close advisers and figures from Muslim parties

2001 -- January, Wahid refused to cooperate with the special committees on the two scandals, walked out from the scheduled hearing.

February -- The House of Representatives accepted the committee's report that allegedly implicated Wahid in the two scandals. His supporters held a series violent protest in his home province of East Java.



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