Reasons to cheer for Indonesia's 75th Independence Day

The country is well embarked on the road of democracy while decentralisation has energised local governments

On Aug 17, 1995, two million people packed into Jakarta's Merdeka Square to see a spectacular fireworks display to mark Indonesia's 50th birthday - an extravaganza sponsored by the French government.

At home a few kilometres south, strongman Suharto must have relished his position at that juncture. Firmly in the saddle after nearly 30 years in office, he had succeeded in crushing political opponents and staying in command. And the economy was growing a robust 7 per cent a year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2020, with the headline Reasons to cheer for Indonesia's 75th Independence Day. Subscribe