Indonesia’s transition to a democratic state must go down as one of the greatest achievements made by any country in recent years.
Because unlike the overthrow of despotic regimes in countries like South Africa and in the communist nations of Eastern Europe, no one really expected Indonesia to pull it off. But there lies the rap – Indonesia basically became a democratic nation by accident rather than because its people hold the values of democracy so close to heart (or at least any more than the Thais do, for instance).
What caused this accident was the Asian financial crisis, of course, and it came along at exactly the right time to end the despotic rule of Javanese patriarch Suharto. Any later and one of his kids - or perhaps a well-trusted crony – would have been at the helm and you can be sure they would have been a hell of a lot less willing to give up their presidential power than Suharto was.
I bet the Thais are now looking on in envy. Poor blighters.