News from Jakarta

Hello Friends,

Yes, Jakarta has been in trouble in the past few days but we are fine.

We had no problems on Friday when the city, again, experienced more

problems and we left early Saturday morning for a four day river trip in

Kalimantan (Borneo). More about that trip later. We arrived home

tonight, safe and sound.

The real problems started on Friday. The MPR (People's Congress) had

been in session for three days, and the students were not happy about

the way things were proceeding. Tensions were mounting and the military

was showing a strong presence, guarding the MPR Assembly from the kids.

Many roads, including the main toll road through the city, were shut

down. Well, our office is located less than a mile from the Asseembly

Buildings, at the intersection of the main east-west toll road and the

main drag of Jakarta, The intersection was heavily guarded by the

military with armed troops, tents and tanks. Thursday evening there

were 4 or 5 killed around the intersection and water cannons were used

to disperse the crowds. The students basically headed toward Atma Jaya

University, directly across from our office, to assess the situation

and regroup for the next day. On Friday we closed the office at noon,

and around 4 in the afternoon, after the Muslim prayers, things broke

loose. The kids again made an attempt to make their way to the MPR

Buildings. For reasons we will never understand the military agaain

used live ammunition on the kids. In fact, they are alledged in the

newspapers to have been using the building where we are located as a

point for sniper action against the kids. The Saturday morning paper

referred to Friday the thirteenth as BLACK FRIDAY.

The students are supposedly in three days of mourning at the moment,

and there are indications of more problems to come. The kids are

looking for the president and the miliatry to take responsibility for

the killings. The government is out looking for other scapegoats. We

are fine and in no danger whatsoever. Where it goes from here is

anyone's guess, but I suspect that the students have gained the upper

hand again, and this thing will not calm down until this government also

goes down, and a group whom the people trust takes control of the

country and sets fair elections.

We'll keep you informed and believe us, in spite of what you see on

CNN, we are fine. A lot of the nighttime shooting scenes from CNN were

filmed directly in front of our office - not the neighborhood where we


Love to all, Malcolm & Sandra (We are considering a name change to Ted

and Andrea Koppell and keeping you up on the news from the


Dear Friends Again,

This was a truly exciting day for at least one reason - I got 11

replies to yesterday's e-mail. Thanks! It was great hearing from you

all. I get the impression that you all concluded (rightfully) that we

are fine since the general message seemed to be send more news as

opposed to keeping our heads down in the line of fire.

We do not have a TV here, so I am not totally aware of the current

situation, but it was looking a little bad around our office, which has

become battleground central, this afternoon. The kids had staged

another demonstration at the MPR (congressional) Buildings, managed to

shut down the main tollroad to the airport as well as the main east-west

road in the city. The military was amassing more troops and we decided

to evacuate the office at 5 PM - about 2 hours earlier than normal.

There were also reports that a large delegation of students was on its

way from a University about 6 miles from flashpoint. There was also a

large group of students assembling at the university across the street

from our building. (As an aside, with this many lowly paid people they

are able to immediately clean up the messes. As we went to the airport

on Saturday morning, the road looked pretty bad - Large potted plants

overturned, small palms recently planted uprooted, signs toppled, and

fences down. Within a day all was restored. The battleground in front

of the office looked like the calmest Main Street in America today where

there was blood on Friday.)

A group of us actually met with the American Ambassador at his

residence today. It is his opinion that this will calm down - the

students are not united - the money is staying strong - the military

does not have a major split as it did before - and the military was

quick to quell the rioting which started in the Chinatown area. I

believe that may all be true, but I still feel that the students will

keep up the pressure to hold Habibie and Wiranto, the Commander of the

Army and being considered previously as a presidential candidate,

accountable for the murders of the students. The military supposedly

sustained some casualties as well, but in a country where the populace

does not have guns those had to be from "friendly fire". Pro-government

thugs also suffered casualties. They were paid by god knows who to help

in the protection effort. Everyone knew that was suicidal, and a few

were beaten death when they could be singled out.

The ambassador said there was no good evidence that there were snipers

on buildings - damn that sounded like a good story!

The good news was picked up by a few of you in the Boston papers. Yes,

Stone & Webster is offering an early retirement plan. Sounds very

enticing, but we really do love it here. Sandra will be out shopping

even harder come tomorrow.