Jakarta – The Indonesian Press Council has agreed to help the Timor Leste Press Council build up its newly created institution. The two bodies signed a cooperation agreement in Jakarta on Monday.
Virgilio da Silva Guterres, president of the council, told The Jakarta Post that an agreement signed with Indonesia's Press Council last week would help strengthen the new council by, among other things, assisting in the formulation of complaint and mediation mechanisms.
"We hope the Indonesian Press Council can help us, as a new institution, in creating policies," Guterres said. The Timor Leste Press Council members were appointed by parliament in March, with Guterres as their leader. Guterres previously led the Radio and Television of Timor Leste (RTTL).
Following a referendum in 1999, the former Indonesian province became independent in 2002.
Guterres said the press council was formed to promote press freedom and the freedom of speech as well as to increase the professional standards of journalists. The council is also authorized to deal with complaints from the public in regard to journalistic reports.
Guterres said the main challenge the council faced was to improve the qualification of journalists in the country.
"It can be said that, since the year 2000, our reporters can write everything about the president and government officials. The press council's concern now is the quality of the news, whether the journalists are able to exercise that freedom to provide quality information to the public," he said.
Guterres and four other members of the Timor Leste Press Council visited Indonesia from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2.
Besides meeting their peers at the Indonesian Press Council, they also visited the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission and the Communications and Information Ministry.
Yosep Stanley Adi Prasetyo, who heads the Indonesian Press Council, said on Wednesday it was important for journalists of the two neighboring countries to work together in maintaining good relations.
"We have the chance to push better relations between [our] two countries," Yosep said during a dinner that was also attended by Timor Leste Ambassador to Indonesia Alberto XP Carlos.
The diplomat said he was open to building a bridge of good relations between the two institutions. "If you need our help, we are ready," he said. (vny)