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The Politics of the May 1998 Riots

Nearly a year ago, in the midst of preparing for my examinations at the London School of Economics, I received some e-mails and telephone calls from a few journalists. They asked for my comments on a book written by Wiranto entitled Dari Catatan Wiranto: Bersaksi di Tengah Badai” From Wiranto’s Notes: Witness Amidst a Storm”), published by the Indonesian Institute for Democracy in April 2003. The book described the events of May 1998, and touched on the rivalry between Generals Wiranto and Prabowo.

Since that time I have been busy writing my own book because much of the information presented by Wiranto was either not corroborated by the facts or was taken out of context. Wiranto’s book is also very unbalanced in that it does not present information in an even-handed manner. As one of the witnesses in the center of that “storm” of May 1998,1 do not want those historical events to be exploited for personal gain. I do not want my descendants to read a history which is inaccurately written — history written by the winning general. There is a saying, “History is always written by the winning general.” But I believe that the truth will emerge if we have the courage to reveal it.

‘ Wiranto’s political maneuvers were extremely interesting. He was trusted by Soeharto and then by Habibie when he was in the Habibie’s administration. He was hand-in-hand with Gus Dur, and since mid-2003 he has been one of the Golkar Party’s presidential candidates. Wiranto is not an unfamiliar name: ever since the loss of East Timor in 1999, he has been one Indonesian who has gotten much publicity around the world. In recent months, there have been accusations he committed crimes against humanity in Timor Lorosae.

After the completion of my studies at the end of last vear, I started interviewing persons who knew about the turmoil of May 199S. By combining my personal experiences and the recollections of those witnesses, the result was publication of this book.

I hope this small work can be used for comparison, and can lead to more open and fair discussion about the Trisakti Incident and the events of May 1998.

In conclusion, I especially thank my sources for their willingness to be interviewed, my colleagues at IPS, and my friends who suggested I publish this book.

Fadli Zon Jakarta, April 2004
Zon, Fadli - Personal Name
322.4 ZON p
Printed Book
Solstice Publishing
157 hlm

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