Bandarlampung Mayor Herman HN has banned Tribun Lampung from covering his activities, claiming he was humiliated by the newspaper’s coverage.
Herman said that the newspaper, which is published by the Kompas Gramedia media group, had humiliated him by falsely reporting that the mayor had cut the incentive allowances of the employees of the Lampung Revenue Office.
“If you didn’t steal but you were reported to have stolen, wouldn’t you be angry?” Herman said on Tuesday. “Tribun Lampung has continually attacked me. Furthermore, they published news without asking for confirmation from me.”
Herman said that the ban would not prevent Tribun Lampung journalists from seeking information from other administration units within the mayor’s office or from Bandarlampung municipal agencies.
Herman hotly defended his ban. “I’m a native of Lampung. When it comes to self-respect, let’s fight until someone dies. I’m ready to die. I’m not afraid. At most, I’ll be imprisoned,” he said.
The ban was rejected by the Lampung office of the Central Information Commission (KIP) and by local journalists.
Wakos Reza Gautama, who leads the Bandarlampung chapter of the Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI), said that the ban threatened the freedom of the press in Lampung.
Wakos said that Herman should rescind the ban and seek redress by filing a formal complaint with the Press Council.
Herman, however, rejected the proposal.
“What’s the use of using the right to reply and report to the Press Council if my self-respect is in tatters? It’s no use,” Herman said.
Lampung Central Information Commission head Juniardi said that the ban imposed by Herman was illegal and violated the Press Law and the Freedom of Information Law.
“I suggest that Tribun Lampung to go through legal means. The mayor’s move has threatened press freedom in Lampung. The media will be afraid to report on corruption cases involving public officials,” Juniardi said.
In several reports published at the end of December, the Tribun Lampung alleged that Herman cut civil servant incentive funds by Rp 2 billion (US$222,000) when he was head of the Lampung Revenue Office in 2008.
Herman was mentioned in a report filed by Agusman, the lawyer of former Lampung Revenue Office head Risman Sesunan, who has been named as suspect in a separate criminal case and is currently in detention at Way Hui penitentiary in Bandarlampung.
The mayor denied that he had ordered the incentive fund cut.
“If the Tribun Lampung journalist could not confirm the matter with me, then they could still cross check the report with employees at the Lampung Revenue Office as to whether or not I had cut the funds,” Herman said.
Separately, Tribun Lampung editor-in-chief Uki M. Kurdi said that the newspaper would continue to report on corruption, despite the ban.
Uki added that Tribun Lampung would not apologize to the mayor.
“We will keep fulfilling the rights of the public in Bandarlampung to get information. There’s no room for compromise and to stop reporting,” he said.
The Jakarta Post, Bandarlampung | Archipelago | Wed, January 09 2013