A memoir-type story about my own experience as a freelance journalist covering the abortive communist coup attempt in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept 30, 1965.
Suharto of course understood everything the Americans said to him in English. But he answered them in Indonesian translated by Widodo. The topics discussed were generally about the economic progress so far achieved by President Suharto’s administration seven years after he assumed the presidency. He had just been reelected for a second five-year term the year before in 1973. Incidentally, by that time I knew I wouldn’t be able to get an autograph on my Pulau Monyet picture. I was waiting rather impatiently for the IBM topic to be brought up by Jim Linen.
Sure enough, at the tail end of the meeting Jim spoke up asking if the president would consider giving the giant US company an exemption from complying with the new trade regulation. Suharto replied to the effect that the new ruling had been introduced to give local trading and distribution companies a better opportunity to be successful in their businesses because if they had to compete with major overseas corporations their success would be hard to come by. We can’t give anybody any special treatment, the president added emphatically, on that note concluding the 50-minute courtesy visit.
A former freelance journalist who worked in Jakarta, Indonesia, following
the abortive October 1965 communist coup attempt relates his
numerous interesting experiences
Stringing for Time Magazine
I carried out my stringing job for Time magazine initially by way of an arrangement with Amir Daud, a crack Indonesian journalist. Amir, who was my coach and mentor in good journalism, had been a newsman for almost 20 years when I met him in early 1966. He was a staff reporter for The Associated Press (AP) prior to becoming a freelancer, stringing for Time, the German news agency DPA and several other foreign media. Much later when he was unable to handle the various stringing jobs he had on his plate, the Time job was turned over fully to me.
At that time (1966-67) we usually filed a story for Time magazine when instructed to do a specific topic either by an editor in New York or by a correspondent in the Asia Bureau office of Time-Life News Service in Hong Kong. I remember a major assignment which I think came from New York to do a story on mass conversions into Christianity in several parts of Indonesia. News reports said these conversions were taking place mostly in Central and East Java and North Sumatra’s Tanah Karo (Karo Land) region. Sixty-five thousand people were baptized in Central and East Java, while in Tanah Karo 16,000 converted into various Christian denominations.
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