Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 9, 2005

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Implications of Recent Indonesia Reform
Leach Schedules Thursday Hearing on U.S. Policy

BACKGROUND:  With more than a million square miles of territory, Indonesia boasts the world’s fourth largest population and the world’s largest Muslim population.  While more than 80 percent of its population practices predominantly moderate, tolerant forms of Islam, Indonesia’s population is ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse.  Only seven years removed from the fall of Suharto and an acute financial crisis, Indonesia is in the midst of a dramatic transition from the corrupt, authoritarian structures of the “New Order” toward those of a functioning, decentralized democracy.  During 2004, Indonesia conducted three complex national elections – the largest single-day elections in the world – in a free, fair, and peaceful manner.  Approximately 116 million people voted in the final round of Indonesia’s first direct presidential election, which resulted in the victory of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over incumbent Megawati Soekarnoputri.  Among the many challenges facing the new administration are:  a sluggish economy, massive public debts, significant governmental corruption, the challenge of military and police reform, the threat of Islamist terrorism, and ethnic, religious, and separatist violence in areas such as Aceh, West Papua, and Maluku.  Indonesia was recently decimated by the December 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.  In North Sumatra alone, approximately 240,000 people are dead or missing.  The unprecedented outpouring of international support in the aftermath, including massive relief efforts by the U.S. military, USAID, and American non-governmental organizations, largely helped to curtail the feared public health consequences of the disaster.  Social and economic reconstruction, to which the U.S. Government and American non-governmental organizations have pledged millions, will be a considerably more protracted process.

WHAT: Subcommittee Oversight Hearing: Indonesia in Transition:  Recent Developments and Implications for U.S. Policy
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, U.S. Rep. James A. Leach (R-IA), Chairman
WHEN: 2:00 p.m., Thursday, March 10, 2005
WHERE: Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
WITNESSES: Marie Huhtala, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Alphonse F. La Porta, President, United States-Indonesia Society; Douglas E. Ramage, Ph.D., Representative to Indonesia and Malaysia, The Asia Foundation; and Edmund McWilliams, Board of Directors, Indonesia Human Rights Network

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