Asian Currency Crisis
1997 – 1998
A dear friend of mine – 7000 miles and a whole different world away…Octa told me how the IBC’s, that’s her an – Indonesian Born Chinese – were always looked down upon because all were presumed rich by the native Indos.’
Octa strongly disagrees with them, “We are not poor but I wouldn’t say we’re rich. My parents have always worked hard and have taught brother and I the virtue of saving money. We buy our clothes at Wal-Mart not fancy designer shops. We eat leftovers. It’s not my fault the Indo’s think they have to wear designer everything. Or that they don’t do anything to conserve money. I don’t have any, Indo friends but I really don’t care.”
Problems had been brewing for months in all of Asia. It is a region that is home to 60% of the world’s people, and where many economies were growing by nearly 10% a year in real terms. By late 1997 however, the economic outlook for many of the Asian Tigers had changed drastically. An Asian Tiger is – the very successful economy of one of the smaller Asian countries. Before I began corresponding with Octa in January of ’98 there were many economic troubles for Indonesia and the whole of Asia. Those were the years of the Asian Currency Crisis.
Everything came to a head in May of 1998 for Indonesia and it felt like I were right there. Sadly, I was privy to Octarina’s plight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClwV_VkdYFY
The despair on campus reminded me of the 60’s protests in the U.S. Except that is, that the people of Indonesia had real desperate reasons for protesting.
Octa’s school in Jakarta at Trisakti University on 12 May 1998 is where the worst of things happened. She was in her room at the university. I could see and hear most of what was going on thanks to Microsoft Meeting with audio visual capabilities. Things in her room which were perfect and precise, normally, today are all jumbled and disorganized. Soon enough, I discovered why.
I was getting real-time happenings at her school. I could hear much shouting.
Octa said she was safe, “I’m upstairs in my room. I’m watching the whole thing out on the mall. I hear other student’s in their rooms shuffling things around – I wish Dad would get here soon! The day began eerily quiet. Now it is getting that way again. This is really terrible, Steve. I wonder if they will be able to get here because there’s police, army guys and students marching down there on the square; there is a lot of shouting, and the traffic in the streets well It is at a standstill.”
“I know,” I replied, “I can hear them. Are you as safe as you can be, Octa?”
“Aihhhhhhh,” she screamed, “The army guys are shooting and some of the students are down…”
I heard the gunshots…If she gets out of this mess maybe the Baptist Missionary, Mike, will somehow get her out of the country.
This all began while innocently reading a book (Memoirs of a Geisha) together. Even though we were 7,000 miles apart, we were brought together by that book, and the Bible, as we also shared verse.
Octa became, Sayuri and I became the, Chairman…and I think we were falling in love.
“I don’t know when we’ll see each other again or what the world will be like when we do. We may both have seen many horrible things. But I will think of you every time I need to be reminded that there is beauty and goodness in the world.”
Memoirs of a Geisha is a 1997 novel by Arthur Golden — later adapted into a 2005 film — about the life of a famous geisha, Sayuri (formerly Chiyo), who was sold to a geisha house by her father at a young age to be trained in the profession. One day, she meets a man who becomes her main motivation to pursue a career as a geisha, although she soon starts to realize that he is unobtainable. Meanwhile, Sayuri becomes a pawn in an intrigue between two of the most successful geisha in the district. The plot is set in Kyoto, mainly in the decades around the Second World War.