03 November 2010

Stifling News, Buying Up A Print Run...

In Indonesia in 2010 it is hard to imagine that there are those that still think that buying up a complete print run of a tabloid newspaper is a legitimate way of stifling a news story and getting it out of the mainstream media. However, those shady and unknown figures seemingly still exist, lurking in the shadows and ready to pounce.

M. Nazaruddin, a member of the Democrat Party, has been accused of raping a sales promotion girl (SPG) in Bandung this past May. The Democrat Party, the party of SBY, held its Party Congress in Bandung. Needless to say, allegations of this nature were sure to become public tabloid fodder as soon as they became widely known. It is not rocket science to know that sensationalism sells newspapers, and the only thing more sensational than linking the president to a possible plot to cover-up a rape would be to accuse the president of the rape himself.

Anyways, Check and Recheck which now goes by the moniker C & R printed a cover story that explores the allegations against Nazaruddin. This story headlined their most recent edition, a print run of some 100,000 copies. The whole print run was purchased by an unknown group. C & R retails for IDR 6,000. You do the math on that one, but suffice to say, it was an expensive exercise in futility.

It was futile because the publishers of C & R would have a whole stack of cash available to them to go about printing a second run of 100,000 and then sell them as they usually would. Maybe the mysterious buyer can sell them onto someone who recycles paper and recoup some of their expenditure that way.

What is weird about this is that the allegations are not new. In fact, the allegations emerged not long after the Congress. What is interesting is that the Ethics Council of the parliament (DPR) has indicated that it would "examine" the allegations. Yet, the Ethics Council seems to be dragging its feet on the promised examination.

Aside from the ethics issues that might arise from a legislator being accused of rape, there seems to be a possibility that a crime has been committed here. So, the bigger concern is where the police and public prosecutors are up to in pursuing this case, and whether it is likely to go to trial.

The police have suggested that they have medical examination evidence from the victim and also CCTV footage from the hotel where the alleged rape took place. However, the police have not moved forward on the case. The obvious question is then "have the police not moved forward on this case because the evidence does not support the claim made by the victim or are there other 'forces' at play here attempting to stifle the pursuit of justice for the victim?"

Nazaruddin has a right to the presumption of innocence. However, the victim also has a right to expect that her claims that she was raped by Nazaruddin are given their proper due with a thorough investigation. If the investigation turns up 'nada' then so be it. But, if the investigation does turn up evidence that supports the allegation then this must be heard in a court of law (assuming that the victim wishes to pursue the case through criminal legal channels).

The Democrat Party have been quick to distance themselves from the purchase of the papers. Ahmad Mubarok and Ruhut Sitompul and always good for sound bites when the 'proverbial' hits the fan. Mubarok piped up that the Democrat Party will not be suing C & R or its publishers over the story. And, Ruhut took the more personal angle by stating that the Democrat Party would not be supporting Nazaruddin if the charges were found to have any substance.

Perhaps more interesting still is the Golkar response. Priyo Budi Santoso has gone on the record to say he hopes that the case does not get all that much media exposure because the facts of the case are not that spectacular. Huh? Since when do rape and spectacular end up in the same sentence? Perhaps the spectacular thing in this case is that Santoso thinks that this is a private matter and not a public or legal one.

Poor old PBS is worried that any public discussion of the case will see all legislators labelled as rapists. Hey, PBS, time to wake up and smell the coffee, being a legislator does not make you a rapist. Although, having said that, I am sure that there are plenty of constituents out there in Indonesia who would be thinking that they are regularly being raped and pillaged by their representatives in the figurative sense, particularly each time a group of them flies out on a junket which are known in DPR circles as comparative study tours.


H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,
This case reminds me of the day
when Tempo was bought by mysterious people.
I was about to write the same topic, but now that you have done it, I'll look for another topic.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

If you have not written it yet, you should. More people read you than read me. And, it is a story that needs to be told.