First Indonesia's Chief Justice had a toothache, which conveniently forced the postponement of opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's lawsuit against prominent government and military leaders. Now, a Jakarta court has opted for the simpler expedient of refusing to hear the case until the parties involved have exhausted all chance of an out-of-court settlement. The contortions which they are going through, to try to prevent the case from being heard, are doing great damage to the international image of Indonesia's judicial system. Ms Megawati's lawyers insist they reserve the right to go back to court, if no satisfactory settlement is reached. Judging from the judiciary's performance so far, some new excuse would quickly be found to prevent her from doing this. That may not prove necessary. Ms Megawati is no Aung San Suu Kyi, despite the international media's fondness for comparing her to the Burmese opposition leader. A product of the Indonesian political system, who spent a decade in parliament without being noticed until recent events catapulted her into the limelight, she would probably jump at the chance to strike a compromise, and sink back into obscurity. Her lawyers have said they are willing to try to strike a deal. But supporters insist this would have to include Ms Megawati's reinstatement as leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party, the post from which she was recently ousted by the Government, prompting the nation's worst riots in 20 years. It is difficult to see how she could accept anything less since, without such a position, Ms Megawati will not be able to stand for re-election to parliament next year. But reinstatement is almost certainly out of the question, since it would be a major embarrassment for President Suharto, who has openly endorsed her successor, Mr Surjadi. That means Ms Megawati will probably have to choose between a meaningless out-of-court settlement, which may save her face but little else, and continuing her legal and political battles. It should be an easy choice to make. In recent weeks, Ms Megawati has won nationwide respect as leader of a class of Indonesians unhappy with the system under which they live. She should not let them down by abandoning their campaign so soon.