Meeting Abdurrahman Wahid at his modest South Jakarta house is like visiting a respected village elder. You always find a line of people waiting to see him: slick-suited businessmen, social activists, poor East Javanese farmers all come to unload their troubles and receive his blessing.
One thing is clear enough: if Indonesia's students were voting, President B. J. Habibie would be out in a flash. Thousands of them hit Jakarta's streets last week, tossing Molotov cocktails and clashing with riot troops, as Habibie delivered an "accountability speech," his justification of his 17-month-old administration.
The people of East Timor couldn't help but feel twinges of optimism. As Australian-led peacekeeping troops rolled in and started arresting armed thugs who had been terrorizing the territory, young men came pouring down from the hills where they had been hiding. "I am not afraid anymore," said Martino Pinto, 26, who had left his wife and four children in the hills to search for food and see if it were safe to take them home.
Roughly a quarter century after the Vietnam War, the vestiges of the Ho Chi Minh Trail run through a nightmare landscape. Vast swaths of blighted countryside, once dense forest, now support almost no vegetation but the coarse weed known locally as American grass, useless for feeding humans, livestock or most wildlife.
CHIA THYE POH IS STILL LEARNing to savor his newly restored freedom. A former member of the Singapore Parliament and leader of the Socialist Front, a small opposition party, he was arrested in 1966 under Singapore's Internal Security Act, which provides for detention without charges or trial.
NESTLED AMONG THE QUIET homes of central Jakarta, the Al-Munawara mosque is a refuge of the spirit. Ahmad Sumargono, deputy leader of Indonesia's new Crescent Moon and Star Party, spent the Muslim holy month of Ramadan there, contemplating his soul and the political storms outside.
In his 70 years, Prince Norodom Sihanouk has experienced most of the highs and lows that life has to offer. His career in Cambodian politics has taken him from god-king to prime minister to homeless exile, from guerrilla leader to political prisoner and eventually back to head of state.