1998 - 2002
WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN INDONESIA
USAID/OTI initiated a program in Indonesia in 1998 on the heels of a major economic and related political crisis. In 1997, the financial sector of the economy collapsed and investment dried up. Purchasing power plummeted, many businesses failed, unemployment soared and poverty increased sharply. This led to increasing disillusionment with government performance and a call for political reform. Popular pressure forced long-time President Suharto to resign in May 1998, creating a window of opportunity for USAID/OTI to assist Indonesia’s political transition.
USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN INDONESIA
To assist, accelerate and secure the process of reform and democratization in Indonesia, USAID/OTI programming sought to:
- Support the June 1999 general elections;
- Help civil society organizations advocate for government reforms;
- Support the media to stimulate discussion of political issues;
- Encourage accountable and transparent governance; and
- Improve civilian-military relations.
- USAID/OTI launched a major media-strengthening effort to capitalize on press freedom and burst of news media activity following the resignation of President Suharto. A USAID/OTI-supported Indonesian non-governmental organization, Policy Center, produced a two-hour weekly interactive radio law show called “Ombudsperson.” The program covered topics on government policy on media and on parliament, informing the public on reforms and other-country experience with such reforms.
- USAID/OTI supported the Muslim Institute and Conference of Churches, enabling these groups to conduct a large, aggressive anti-violence campaign and promote interfaith dialogue prior to the elections. The election period passed with almost no violence.
- USAID/OTI assisted civil society organizations to promote greater awareness of good governance. Grantee Association of Study and Development for a People’s Economy conducted an anti-corruption campaign on public/private resources through media interactive shows. Ten radio stations relayed the campaign, and a post-campaign poll indicated that the public, especially students, had a better understanding of government malpractices.