In This Review

Suharto's Indonesia
Suharto's Indonesia
By Hamish McDonald
University Press of Hawaii, 1981, 277 pp

In addition to offering his judicious first-hand impressions, McDonald, an Australian journalist who lived in Jakarta from 1975 to 1978, also demonstrates more than a passing acquaintance with the best academic writing on Indonesia. The result is a solid, well-written and balanced account of Indonesia under Suharto-a combination that is rare. The verdict on Indonesia is mixed. Under Suharto, real per capita income grew by eight to ten percent during the 1970s, yet poverty is still appalling, population growth alarming, and corruption a serious problem despite efforts to curb it. Politically, the government operates on a cycle of openness, clampdown, then gradual letup. Since the slaughter and mass arrests that destroyed the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965, the government has, "with some success," tried to buy off its opponents rather than eliminate them. And there is a surprising level of free debate about basic issues facing the country in the press, the professions and other institutions.