The Alliance of Independent Journalists regrets the statement of President Soeharto through Minister of Information Alwi Dahlan, who has accused the press of "being unproportional in reporting the real situation."

On Thursday the president said the press reports on events which do not represent the proper perspective; instead of informing the public the press has 'disinformed' the public. The reporting of the press, added the President, consists more of inaccurate interpretation "It seems that all that happens in Indonesia are student demonstrations but other things are not mentioned," said Minister Alwi citing the president.

The President's statement is clearly targeted toward the abundant reporting of student protests in various universities in the country. And the president's judgement the student protests do not reflect what is really happening is obviously unproportional. The widespread demonstrations in the last three months plainly mirror the devestating crisis here. And it is the job of the Indonesian press to report what students are demanding, which are also demands of the public. Indeed the press would stop functioning when it fails to report the vivid fact.

The president's statement which tends to discredits the press is the fourth in the last four months. In January the president accused press reporting as the cause of public panic manifested in the rush to buy up basic needs in shops and supermarkets.

Then in February after the signing of 50 points of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund, president Soeharto accused the Indonesian press of having heated up the situation related to the crisis, meaning the press was indirectly responsible for the continuing slump of the rupiah value.

This statement was underlined in the president's accountability speech to the People's Consultative Assembly in the March general sessions.

The president's statements which continually corner the press and directly insult the performance of the Indonesian press is evidently a form of intimidation. Therefore AJI strongly protests these statements and urge that President Soeharto be more proportional in judging media reports. To the Indonesia press in this time of crisis AJI maintains that press should enforce its true identity as a pioner of change, as a fighter among the press (pers pejuang) and show its support for reforms which have become the public demand.

Jakarta, April 17, 1998

Lukas Luwarso

Dadang Rhs

From: Aliansi Jurnalis Independen
e-mail: jurnalis@idola.net.id
Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 17:29:34 +0700

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