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Yudhoyono urges media to be fair ahead of polls

Publication Date : 12-02-2013

 

As the country gears up for the 2014 general election, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on the media to remain impartial by giving balanced coverage for every political party and all candidates contesting the election.

“I hope journalists will actively contribute to the creation of an improved political atmosphere, democracy and election. Give enough space [for all] and be relatively fair,” Yudhoyono said in his speech to celebrate National Press Day in Manado, North Sulawesi yesterday.

Yudhoyono was quick to qualify his statement, however, saying that such impartiality would be hard to achieve. “Admittedly, this may be difficult. I have to be realistic,” he said.

Yudhoyono added that impartiality would help voters to decide who to vote for in 2014.

“Let’s see reports on the visions, options and solutions offered by every candidate. How do they plan to deal with our problems? How do they see Indonesia in the future? In this way, people can decide for themselves the solutions that are realistic,” he said.

Yudhoyono, whose second term expires in 2014 and who is barred by the Constitution from running for a third term, also used his speech to make a prediction for the 2014 presidential poll.

“[The next president] could be inside or outside this room. Certainly, he or she must be the most trusted and best-liked by the people. We also hope that the most popular figure also has a good character and is sufficiently capable,” he said.

In his speech, Yudhoyono also shared some lessons from his tenure for his successor.

“Don’t misread things and don’t misstep. From my experience in contesting two presidential elections, I was truly helped by God and I learned from listening to the views and hopes of the people. Try to capture that, every time you see their faces, greet them and listen to what they say,” he added.

National Press Day falls on February 9 but its commemoration this year was postponed until Monday, once Yudhoyono had returned from his overseas trip.

Responding to Yudhoyono’s call, the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) said impartiality was a rare commodity nowadays given that a number of media outlets were controlled by politicians.

“Can MetroTV news and Media Indonesia daily be objective when reporting about Surya Paloh? Can TVOne and ANTV be objective in their stories about Aburizal Bakrie? Objectivity and independence are the main challenges facing the country’s press,” said Margiono, who is also head of the National Press Day committee.

He said that even the Press Council could do little to prevent the media from being used by their owners for their own political ends.

He said the existing code of ethics only concerned journalists and not media owners.

“Currently, we have a code of ethics that controls external issues involving journalists, but not internal matters such as the management of media companies,” he said.

During the event, the National Press Day committee presented awards to some of the country’s outstanding journalists including The Jakarta Post’s senior editor Sabam Siagian, who received the Journalism Spirit Gold award.

The committee, which represents nine press associations, has previously presented awards to Kompas Gramedia Group president director Jakob Oetama, veteran journalist Rosihan Anwar and Dahlan Iskan, who currently serves as state-owned enterprises minister.

One of the Post’s reporters, Agnes Winarti, received the prestigious Adinegoro award in the category of Infotainment and Cultural Journalism for her article “Village passing the Wayang Wong baton”, which was published on May 24, 2012.

 

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