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Newspapers warned

SiaR - August 16, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

Three leading Jakarta dailies, Republika, Suara Pembaruan and Merdeka, have been warned by Information Minister, retired General Hartono. The warnings were delivered during a meeting with editors-in-chief and the financial authorities.

During the meeting which was held to discuss the falling rate of the rupiah, editors were told to avoid publishing anything that might have a negative effect on the Indonesian currency. The Governor of the Bank of Indonesia, Soedradjat Djiwandono, explained how the press could help the government protect the rupiah. Republika and Suara Pembaruan were both warned because they had published an article under the headline, 'Rupiah falls' on the front page. However, the Jakarta Post, which also published a report under the same headline was not warned, apparently because the report appeared on an inside page.

Other papers were not warned even though they published reports saying much the same thing. Following the warning, papers were much vaguer in their reporting of the currency crisis. Another daily, Kontan avoided a warning, apparently because it made the same point but the other way round, using a headline which read, 'Dollar strengthens'.

The warning to Merdeka was about something quite different. It was warned for publishing a photo of Lt-General Syarwan Hamid, Social and Political Affairs chief of staff of ABRI, shaking hands with Megawati Sukarnoputri, chairperson of the PDI. The photo was published in connection with a report quoting Syarwan Hamid as saying that Megawati has acted in conformity with the constitution. Hartono reportedly takes acception to Syarwan Hamid's statement – regarded as being on behalf of ABRI headquarters – because it reflects the beginnings of an accommodation with Megawati.