"Do we really need these leaders?” a recent article in the Jakarta Post asked, referring to Indonesia’s four top figures: Abdurrahman Wahid, the president; Megawati Sukarnoputri, vice president; Amien Rais, leader of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR); and Akbar Tanjung, speaker of the House of Representatives.
Wahid came to power when Asia’s crippling 1997 economic crisis ended the powerful Suharto regime. That crisis started Indonesia on a downward spiral. A weak economy aggravated deep-seated interethnic conflicts, and political unrest sent the currency and investor confidence on a continuing downhill slide. Some 1.85 million people have been displaced by the ongoing violence.