Although there is a long way to go before all the wrongs imposed on the Indonesian people can be addressed, the political reforms begun by the government of President B.J. Habibie offer hope of a national healing process. Withdrawing combat troups from East Timor, and the promised withdrawal next month from the province of Aceh in northern Sumatra, are both hopeful signs which could set the scene for a more conciliatory atmosphere between separatists and the central government. Talks between Indonesia and Portugal may succeed in finding a compromise for East Timor, although Indonesia's demand for international recognition of sovereignty is likely to prove a difficult stumbling block. A particularly striking sign of the new mood was the apology by Defence Minister General Wiranto to the people of Aceh for human rights abuses by troops during the insurgency when hundreds were allegedly tortured and killed. As with the reports of murder and rape against Chinese during the spring, a willingness to face up to past crimes and to punish those responsible will be an essential element in real progress. Even former President Suharto's son-in-law has been called before a military council for questioning. Given the depth of Indonesia economic troubles, it is essential for the government to maintain the process of dialogue and national reconciliation across the board. President Habibie and those around him - including the army - will have to bring into question policies which were central to the Suharto regime. That will not be easy, but it is essential if the country is to move ahead.