Since the collapse of President Suharto's New Order regime in 1998 and the international intervention in East Timor in 1999, there has been much speculation in South-east Asia and the West over whether Indonesia - weakened by economic difficulties, social distresses and political instability - has a future as a coherent nation-state. This paper argues that although the separatist struggles in Aceh or Papua are unlikely to suceed in the foreseeable future, other problems threaten to undermine the central government's control.
Communal disputes have led to chronic violence in Maluku, Central Sulawesi, and Kalimantan. Simultaneously, tension between Islamic and secular political forces has grown. Indonesia's disarray has prompted international concern over an array of security threats, including contagious secessionism, Islamic terrorism, the movement through Indonesia of asylum-seekers, piracy and environmental dangers. In order to contain these security implications of Indonesia's protracted crisis, concerned governments should continue assisting its fragile reform process, particularly by helping Jakarta to manage the country's massive international debt. However, they should also coordinate their contingency planning for a further crumbling of Jakarta's authority.