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Article Ignored Great Progress in Indonesia

June 17, 1994



The opinion-page article ``Indonesia `Mafia' Pockets World Bank Loans,'' June 3, is without foundation and is a discredit to those in the World Bank, the internal development community, and the Indonesian public and private sectors who have worked so hard to improve the quality of life of Indonesia's 186 million people.

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The people of Indonesia are proud that a nation that had 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line in 1969 has been able to reduce that number to 15 percent through a series of five-year development plans. Other achievements during that period include an increase in average life expectancy from 45.7 to 62.7 years; a 60 percent reduction in the infant mortality rate; and a 37 percent increase in literacy. In addition, the Indonesian economy has grown an average of 7 percent annually.

We also appreciate the role that the international community, including the United States government and the World Bank, have played in this process. The authors of the article would have us believe the resident mission of the World Bank in Indonesia is irresponsible in the way it monitors that organization's lending to our country.

This is not the case, and our development and loan service records are both testimony to the value of that assistance.

That the authors chose to introduce the subject of East Timor in their sensationalistic attack is evidence that they are not familiar with the achievements recorded in that province since it was abandoned by Portugal in 1975. In 19 years, the number of schools has grown from 47 elementary, two middle, one high school, and no colleges in 1975 to 579 elementary, 90 middle, 39 high schools, and three colleges today. There were two hospitals and 14 clinics in 1975, and there are now 10 hospitals and 197 village centers. In 1974 there were 100 churches in East Timor, today there are 793.

The World Bank should be praised, not criticized, for its role in helping to develop the Indonesian economy. Hupudio Supardi, Washington Counselor for Press and Information Indonesian Embassy

Overcoming indifference through art

I strongly support the Monitor's rebuttal of a criticism of a dance review that mentioned the company's director had lost a partner to AIDS (``Art and the Processing of Grief,'' May 18). The Monitor's response was to emphasize that the arts are often a viable medium for generating empathy and processing grief.

I would also add that we have lost - and continue to lose - some of the most talented people of the late 20th century to this disease of ignorance, fear, and greed. The reader's egregious indifference to this loss is a clear illustration of the phrase ``Silence equals death.''

What is now known as the Bill T. Jones Dance Company began as the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. [Editor's note: The group continues to include Mr. Zane's name in its title.] I also believe the review, ``Bill T. Jones Dance Troupe Unveils Time-Sensitive Works,'' May 3, noted that Jones himself is HIV positive. In an age when many people are forced to accept this diagnosis as a death sentence, Bill Jones is living proof of the inspiration that comes through activism, creativity, and prayer. Michelle Dent, Seattle

White gloves, not white hands

In the article about Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's stay in the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston (``Probe Asks If Rao Requested Race Screening at Boston Stay,'' May 24), it was alleged that Indian government officials asked the hotel to exclude all but whites from serving the prime minister.

I understand that the matter has since been resolved. Neither the prime minister nor his staff made such a request at the Four Seasons Hotel or at any of the hotels in Houston, Washington, or anywhere else the prime minister and his entourage stayed both before and after their visit to Boston.

The Four Seasons Hotel has, subsequently, issued a public apology and agreed to pay a fine of $70,000.

Having reported what appeared to be an egregious example of racism, it behooves you to report also its denouement. Samir K. Dutt, De Soto, Texas