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Soeharto family rises with MNC TV victory

Jakarta Post - January 13, 2014

The daughter of former president Soeharto, Siti Hardijanti "Tutut" Rukmana, has officially taken over Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) TV, part of a media empire owned by media mogul and vice presidential nominee of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) Hary Tanoesoedibjo.

On Saturday, several executives of Indonesia Education Television (TPI), the original name of the station, moved in to the channel's headquarters in East Jakarta, after the Supreme Court had returned the majority share of the broadcasting company to Tutut last October.

"Dandy Rukmana [Soeharto's grandson] and Muhammad Jarman, the [company's] legitimate directors based on a general shareholders meeting on March 17, 2005, will start working from today," TPI lawyer Harry Ponto said Saturday. The Supreme Court ruled in October last year in favor of Tutut in her share dispute with Hary concerning the ownership of the station.

The dispute originated when Tutut accused Hary of swindling her out of shares in the broadcasting company in 2005, reducing her stake to only 25 percent of the company's total shares.

The takeover of the television station marked another step in the Soeharto family's return to prominence 15 years after the reform movement toppled the former president of 31 years.

In March last year, the family opened a monument and museum to display the achievements of the country's former strongman in his birthplace of Bantul, Yogyakarta. The family has also released a number of books reminiscing about the "halcyon days" of the Soeharto regime.

One of Soeharto's daughters, Siti Hediyati Hariyadi, the former wife of Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chief patron Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto, is now running for a legislative position on a Golkar Party ticket in one of Yogyakarta's electoral districts.

The takeover of MNC TV is considered significant as the country enters an election year. University of Indonesia political communication expert Effendi Ghazali said that the return of Tutut to TPI could do much to improve the stature of the former strongman's family.

Effendi said that TPI could once again be used by members of the Soeharto family to promote nostalgia for the economic and political stability enjoyed during the peak of the former president's New Order regime.

"The return of the TPI can be used to build momentum for the family to campaign for a return to the glory days of Soeharto's era. We have seen many banners reminiscing about that time," Effendi said on Sunday.

He was referring to a circulating picture of Soeharto with the statement in Javanese – "Piye kabare? Iseh penak jamanku to," which is roughly translated as: "How are things going? Was it not better in my time?" Effendi said, "Regardless who first released the advertisement, its wide circulation reflects an apparent aspiration of supporters of Soeharto to bring back his rule especially through existing members of his family."

As private television stations are mostly tuned into by Indonesians from the lower to middle class, MNC TV had been a tool used by Hary to boost the popularity of Hanura as well as the party's presidential aspirant, former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto.

Political analysts said that the nomination of Hary as Wiranto's running mate in the upcoming presidential election was the bargaining chip that lured Hary away from the National Democrat (NasDem) Party, following a rift with fellow media mogul Surya Paloh, who now runs the party.

The dispute

  • March 18, 2005: PT Berkah Karya Bersama officially becomes the majority shareholder of Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI) television station via a debt-to-equity conversion.
  • March 21, 2005: Law and human rights minister approves debt-to-equity conversion from PT CTPI to PT Berkah Karya Bersama (BKB). Shares of PT BKB transferred to Media Nusantara Citra Tbk.
  • Oct. 14, 2009: Jakarta Commercial Court declares PT TPI bankrupt after request from Crown Capital Global Limited (CCGL).
  • Dec. 15, 2009: Supreme Court rules in favor of PT TPI, annuls decision by Commercial Court.
  • Oct. 20, 2010: Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI) officially renamed Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) TV.
  • April 14, 2011: Central Jakarta District Court decides to return some of television station TPI's shares to one of former president Soeharto's daughters, Siti Hardiyanti "Tutut" Rukmana, who previously owned 100 percent of the company. Judges said BKB's ownership of the shares and the shareholders' meetings were unlawful. The trial also granted several compensatory demands.
  • April 20, 2012: Jakarta High Court annuls Central Jakarta District Court.
  • Oct. 2, 2013: Supreme Justice (MA) annuls Central Jakarta District Court.

[Source: JP, Kompas]