'There are problems from all sides'
Enough Is Enough: After a deadly and mysterious bomb attack at Jakarta's stock exchange, citizens are desperate for President Wahid to take decisive action to restore stability
Sick Man of Asia: Just how ill is Suharto?
Outside Help: Can the world do anything to bring peace?
A former professor of constitutional law, Mohamad Mahfud took up the post of Defense Minister just two weeks ago. In his first interview with the foreign media, he spoke with Time East Asia correspondent Terry McCarthy and reporter Jason Tedjasukmana just after an emergency cabinet meeting called to discuss the stock exchange bombing:
TIME: What can be done about the Timor crisis?
Mahfud: [President Wahid] agrees with me that in the case of West Timor there is no need to send a U.N. mission. We already have the necessary laws to handle human rights violations. We have asked for the militia to be disarmed. Maybe they hid some weapons in the jungle, but we are trying to break up the militias. Now we have to handle the refugees. We will repatriate those who want to go to East Timor, as long as there is a guarantee for their safety. For those who want to stay [in Indonesia] there is a resettlement program. We have set aside land on Wetar Island off the coast of West Timor. Intelligence sources have told me there are foreign groups involved who want to cause trouble for Indonesia. They don't like the fact that there is still no functional government in East Timor and they want to use Indonesia as a scapegoat for that. We suspect there is an intelligence operation aimed to make Indonesia appear to be in the wrong.
TIME: Whose foreign intelligence service are you suggestingAustralia's?
Mahfud: I don't need to say who, but the international community knows who it is. Even you know and you asked because you have the same hunch.
TIME: Was Suharto behind the latest bombing at the Jakarta Stock Exchange?
Mahfud: The President didn't say that directly, but I think he suspects it. He named a few people close to Suharto at the cabinet meeting this morning.
TIME: Were they civilians or military?
Mahfud: Civilians. But he suspects the military has also been involved in the other bombings up to now.
TIME: Is former army chief Wiranto involved in destabilizing things?
Mahfud: No. I believe once a military man has lost his position, his access to power is not as strong as before. People who are still in power are the problem.
TIME: Are politicians a bigger problem than the military?
Mahfud: There are problems from all sidesmembers of the old government, military men who are involving themselves in politics and regular politicians. There is never a single reason for the disturbances, it is always complex.
TIME: With all the problems in the Maluku Islands, Aceh, Papua, West Timoris it possible that Indonesia could break up?
Mahfud: We still believe things can be brought under control. But we have a problem. We want to exercise our sovereignty, but the international community is singling us out as violators of human rights. In the past three years the international community has been dictating to us a lot. We must keep our sovereignty.
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