The article deals with the role of intellectuals in the authoritarian "new order" and with the perception of a new "openness" in Indonesia. In the existing political culture there is little room for a critical opposition. Nevertheless intellectuals have never stopped trying to bring new elements into the political culture. They used different methods and means, from petitions to open protests, all demanding the democratization of Indonesian society. The changes in Eastern Europe since 1989 made the Suharto government realize that - at least to a certain extent - it would have to accommodate to the new global situation. So more discussion on sensitive issues in the mass media, more openness was allowed. But real changes did not occur. The Democratic Forum, created in April 1991, was recognized only as a new debating club, it was prohibited as a new organization for the growing opposition to the Suharto government.