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Journalists at presidential palace not as free as before

Detik.com - October 20, 2004

Suwarjono, Jakarta – Journalists have returned to a “period of gloom” at the new presidential palace. The freedoms which were enjoyed during the presidencies of B.J. Habibie, Gus Dur (Abdurrahman Wahid) and Megawati Sukarnoputri are gone.

Journalists are no longer allowed to intercept sources at their doorsteps or to roam around the palace. Basically journalists must remain in the press room if there are no official activities.

Only if there is a government official or guest who wishes to talk are journalists called in to gather at the area used for press conferences on the first floor of the presidential offices.

The new restrictions came into force after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) stepped foot in the presidential palace on Wednesday October 20. Journalists were only allowed to take pictures when SBY and his entourage fist arrived after which they were invited to “remain” in the press room.

As a result, as to SBY’s present whereabouts and what he is doing, there aren’t any journalists who know, including whether or not he is still interviewing perspective ministers.

Security at the palace meanwhile has also been tightened. During Megawati’s era, journalists and guests only had to go through a security screening at one security post in the Glass Building. In the new era this screening is carried out twice, first at the Glass Building and then at the eastern-side of the palace. (nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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