Pushing The Envelope
A story I missed from last Friday has parallels with Erick's case in that users of hyperspace, including and perhaps especially we bloggers, have just as much responsibility towards our readers as the mass media, and maybe more.
The mass media generally have built-in safeguards against the risk of defamation and libel because they are commercial enterprises beholden to their readers and advertisers, and most follow an editorial line which reflects the interests and biases of their owner investors. There are few publications in the world who have, or have ever had, the courage to stand alone: think Washington Post in the USA and Watergate, the Guardian in the UK and the BAE slush fund, and Tempo here on many issues.
I do not fit into criteria of the gutter press - tits make hits, nor of the crusading papers I've mentioned, other than in displaying my interests and biases. Where necessary, I offer links to news and information which support my theses. I do occasionally try to push the limits of what it is permissable to publish. I thought very long and hard about the article below. It is not one you'll see in print, but, hey, thuggery is a fact of life in Indonesia, which is why police are currently busy rounding up lower minions from the streets.
It appears from a short Jakarta Post article
that a blogger has pushed the envelope too far.Jakarta Police have named a blogger, Narliswandi Piliang, who is also a journalist at Tempo magazine, as a suspect for allegedly maligning a lawmaker in an article posted on an Internet Web log.He had said that a lawmaker, Alvin Lie, a lawmaker from the National Mandate Party (PAN) had accepted a bribe in conjunction with an attempted cover-up of a House of Representatives probe.The defamation case started when Narliswandi allegedly posted an article "Hoyak Tabuik dan Soekanto" (Hoyak Tabuik and Soekanto), on the Web site http://presstalk.info. In the story Narliswandi said Lie had accepted money from coal producer PT Adaro so the House would cancel a probe into questionable circumstances surrounding the company's initial public offering.Narliswandi said he would cooperate with the police and their investigation. "I will come down to their offices if they need me. I won't avoid a police summons."According to the law, Narliswandi could serve up to six years in prison or could be fined Rp.1 billion (US$100,000) if found guilty.
Given Tempo's fortitude in taking on the élite through the courts - they are newly the defendants
in a defamation case being brought by the Minister for His Family's Welfare, Abdurizal Bakrie - it would seem that Narliswandi could not find the clinching, verifiable fact which would allow Tempo to publish the story themselves.
However, it is worth noting that whistleblowers in this country get no better treatment than elsewhere and it is in that light that I wish Narliswandi all the best in his coming legal fight. I do know that there are good, incorruptible lawyers in this country who would be prepared to be in his team.
Incidentally, Erick has been suspending from his position with Bahana Securities for a breach of the company's regulations on disbursing information. Bahana, controlled by the central bank, apparently only releases reports based on data and facts processed by its research division.
One may justifiably wonder about the transparency of such research given the firm's lack of independence.