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There is one lesson that those who dabble in the blogosphere and the Net should never forget: there is nowhere to hide.
It’s OK to advocate something, its OK to be passionate and to take sides but at all times you need to disclose your motives or where you are coming from or your street creds take a hit.
Such is the case with Mediacare, a mailing list in Yahoo Groups and now a blog by Radityo. Observers became very suspicious when all of a sudden the owner of the mailing list and the blog took a sudden passionate interest in the Billy Sindoro case.
The suspicions have come to a crescendo. Today one of Unspun‘s colleagues responded to Radityo’s request for topics and speakers on the mailing list in this thread. He asked if this talkshow would be neutral and whether it would be free from payments. He was careful to disclose that his PR firm represented Astro.
Then another member of the mailing list by the name of Gita Mayana adds her comment to the mailing list. her comment:
gmana mau bebas nilai..? lha wong penggagasnya aja media konsultannya Lippo.. Tapi oke, saya usul, ambil narsumnya Halim Mahfud, jubirnya PT Direct Vision.
To which Radityo responded:
Wah Mbak Gita dapat “bisikan” dari Mama Laurens ya kok bisa nebak-nebak kalau saya media konsultannya Lippo?
Tapi sayangnya salah tuh tebakannya. Sepertinya Lippo punya konsultan media sendiri deh, dan nama saya tak tercantum disitu.
Biar tidak salah sangka, perlu saya jelaskan bahwa 2 bulan lalu saya diminta gabung dalam tim humas Gani Djemat & Partners. Di tahun ini dan tahun depan ada beberapa kliennya yang perlu dukungan litigation PR. Kebetulan law firm ini ditunjuk oleh Billy Sindoro pribadi untuk menangani kasus hukum yang dihadapinya. Saya tegaskan, Billy Sindoro pribadi, sama sekali tak ada kaitannya dengan Grup Lippo.
Semoga Mbak Gita jadi jelas. Btw, Mbak Gita bekerja di media mana?
So now the truth is out. Radityo’s sudden interst in the Billy Sindoro case is because he’s been retained by Billy Sindoro to provide Litigation Support for Gani Djemat & Partners. Unspun’s question is this: Should Radityo have declared that the contents on his blog and mailing list had something to do with his client from the outset? Dos this affect the credibility of mediacare as a forum of discussion for journalists and communicators?
(Unspun‘s disclosure: Read the About page. Also, readers need to know that although Unspun‘s firm represents Astro, the client has not asked Unspun to blog anything on their behalf. Unspun blogged about this issue because he feels that something needs to be unspun in Mediacare. Unspun would also love to debate Radityo head on, mano-a-mano or blogger-a-blogger, on the points he’s trying to make on the Billy Sindoro case.)
Why is Radityo Djadjoeri, the owner and administrator of Mediacare, the Yahoo mailing list for journalists and communicators, and also the blog, taking an inordinate interest in the Billy Sindoro case?
On Tuesday 16 December he posted a message entitled Talkshow: Kasus hukum yang membelit bisnis TV berbayar (Talkshow: The legal case that’s inimical to Pay TV, but you have to be a member to access the mailing list though) in which he said he (kami) would like to organize an on-air and off-air talkshow on the court case that is inimical to pay TV in Indonesia.
He then called for suggestions from the readers on topics that could be discussed, as well as suggestions for possible speakers, in such a talkshow.
And yesterday, 18 December, Radityo took issue with Koran Tempo, again in another posting in Mediacare. He objcted to three points in Koran Tempo’s coverage of the Anti-Corruption Court’s hearing of the Billy Sindoro case headlined KPPU bribecase implicates Golkar politician.
In this posting Radityo makes three points: 1. That Billy Sindoro is no longer the President Director of PT First Media, the Lippo-controlled company that owns PT Direct Vision (and also no longer a member of the Board of Commissioners of Bank Lippo), 2) Billy was not caught red-handed passing the black bag containing the bribe money to Iqbal and 3)Billy did not comment on the KPK witness’s explanation.
The first two points are consistent with the strategy adopted by Billy’s defense lawyer, Humphrey Djemat. The strategy is to portray Billy as acting on his own rather than on behalf of someone else, even though it makes no sense for Billy to act as an individual to protect the interests of the group that he no longer belongs to.
The point about Billy not being caught red-handed passing the black bag of money to Iqbal is also consistent with Humphrey’s defence strategy, which is to imply that if the KPK does not really have solid evidence of the actual transaction taking place, then it has failed to prove that a crime has taken place. Video shots by the KPK, which was carried by Okezone, show Billy and Iqbal going into a lift with Billy carrying the bag. The next shots are of Billy coming out of the lift without the bag. Another shot is of Iqbal with the bag.
The third point is interesting because in it Radityo admits that he had sat in Billy’s trial from morning to afternoon. Its an inordinate amount of time to spend in court unless there is some spcial interest involved.
In his blog Radityo has also begun posting frequently and intensively on the Billy Sindoro case since December 8 when before postings were infrequent and showed little interest in matters surrounding the KPPU case.
So why is Radityo so interested in the case?many journalists have become curious. Perhaps Pak Radityo would care to drop by this blog and let us all know?
(Unspun’s disclosure: see the about page)
Unspun guesses that one could see significance in Lippo Group Executive Billy Sindoro being indicted in the Anti Corruption Court on International Anticorruption Day Tuesday.
Earlier Unspun had wondered how the Lippo Group publication Jakarta Globe would cover the trial. Would they even bother to report it? Would they disclose their common interest?
To their credit they reported the hearing and they also DID disclose that “First Media and the Jakarta Globe are associated companies of the Lippo Group.”
Their story also had one fact that the Post did not have – when the trial will resume. Its a small piece of information but one that’s useful to anyone who’s interested in the progress of the case. But the post had a bit of a gem in its last paragraphs:
Billy’s lawyer, BS Humphrey Djemat said they would not argue the charges.
However, he underlined that Billy had not held a position at any of Lippo Group’s companies since June 8, 2008.
So we are now to believe that Billy was unemployed since June and that Billy is now meeting Iqbal and allegedly paying him Rp500 million of his own money…for what? Curiouser and curiouser this case gets.
How did the Post do compared to the Globe in reporting this hearing so far? Well, Unspun thinks they were both quite equal but you decide for yourself and let the newspaper owners and editors know what your think with the survey below of the Post‘s (Page 1) and the Globe‘s (Page A6) coverage (you may also want to see how both papers fared overall in this earlier posting):
So much for straight reporting. Now, what about going for the story beyond the surface, as good papers should?
There are some very interesting questions that the Billy Sindoro indictment raises, mainly:
- Was Billy, as his defense counsel seem to suggest, acting onhis on, a rogue element within the Lippo Group? If so what are his motives to bribe Iqbal, if he acted alone?
- If Billy bribed the KPPU to insert in an Injunction (No. 5) in its verdict shouldn’t the KPPU review its invstigation and the investigation in other cases?
- How is it that the Central Jakarta District Court could uphold KPPU’s verdict in its ruling on 2 December?
Now that we have some real competition among the English language media which publication would be the first to practice real journalism and ask the difficult questions, rather than carry out spot reporting?
(disclosure: Unspun‘s posts may involve clients now and again but all posts here reflect Unspun‘s personal opinions and not his clients’. Neither are posts made on the behest of clients. In fact, they usually think that Unspun‘s a bit daft when he speaks to them about New Media)
Unspun wonders how the Jakarta Globe, Investor Daily and Merdeka will cover this tomorrow? All of the publications and Billy have one common factor, they have James Riady as their boss. Will there be disclosure in these publications (Billy works for the Lippo Group, which also owns this publication)? Will there be fairness and balance in their coverage? Wednesday’s paper should give us an indication of how business ownership influences (or not) the media they own.
Court to hear indictments against businessman in bribery case
The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 12/08/2008 2:50 PM | National
The Corruption Court is scheduled to hear indictments Tuesday against businessman Billy Sindoro for bribing an official at the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU).
Sarjono Turin, prosecutor in this case, told tempointeraktif.com Monday the court would charge Billy with article 5 of the 1999 corruption law on bribery.
“We will also charge him with a subsidiary indictment under article 13 of the law,” he said.
In September the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Billy, former director of PT First Media, and KPPU member Muhammad Iqbal after Billy had given Iqbal a bag containing Rp 500 million (US$41,600) in cash.
The money was an alleged payment to garner favor with the KPPU so that commission would rule against an accusation that First Media had illicitly secured monopoly broadcasting rights for English Premier League soccer matches. The KPPU did, in fact, rule in First Media’s favor. (ewd)
Even as late as a week ago, the nationalistic card was being played against international investors and the springboard for the jingoists was the Commission for Business Competition Supervisory Council (KPPU).
Each time they found a foreign investor guilty was, to these jingoists, proof that the foreign investors were haughty, that they were sneaky and sought to exploit Indonesian businesses and that they showed no respect for Indonesian laws.
The foreign investors would protest that they had adhered to the prevailing laws, that they had sought for and received the appropriate permissions and permits and that they had nothing wrong.
But Indonesia’s jingoist would not hear about it. They beat their breasts leveled all sorts of criticisms and dominated the conversation. And, like Yeat’s Second coming where “the worst was full of righteous piety; the best lacked all conviction” everyone else kept silent, looked the other way or, even worse, believed in the improbable and outrageous decisions of the KPPU. Even the courts blindly upheld these KPPU decisions, as we saw in the Temasek case.
Now, with the arrest of KPPU member Mohamed Iqbal who was caught red-handed taking money from Billy Sindoro, the president director of Lippo Group-owned First Media, the truth is out. Iqbal was on the take to fix the KPPU’s decisions.
Which decisions did he fix? We may not know the truth for a long time but two cases come to mind because they were so bizarre. The first is the Temasek case. Temasek-affiliated companies’ acquisition of Telkomsel and Indosat were not an issue for many years. Then all of a sudden it became an issue when a Russian telco player was reportedly interested in acquiring Telkomsel.
The BUMN workers union were encouraged to file a report to the KPPU. The Union then later withdrew the report but the KPPU was steadfast in pursuing the case. Why? And after it took up the case it bent the rules and manufactured their own interpretations of existing laws to make sure that Temasek was guilty of cross-ownership. What was intriguing was how could the other members of the KPPU be manipulated by Iqbal to such a degree. Or was he not the only KPPU member on the take?
Then there is the Barclay’s Premier League. The KPPU said that there was no evidence of any customer loss but nonetheless said that an Astro subsidiary and ESPN Star Sports were guilty of violating the Anti-Monopoly Law. But what’s really out there together with Frank Zappa was its decision to order Astro to maintain supplying PT Direct Vision with their boadcast signals until Astro had resolved their ownership dispute with Lippo Group. What’s a Business Competition Supervisory Council doing in mediating between parties in a commercial dispute? What ask]pect of business competition were they supervising when they made the decision? Iqbal, was one of the council members forming the panel reviewing the KPPU investigation into the BPL case. Did he take money from Billy to keep Astro supplying Direct Vision with programs becaue Astro was about to cut the supply of them after Sept 30?
We do not know. Yet. But the fact that Iqbal is almost certain of taking bribes to fic the KPPU’s decisions means that all these questions must be answered. And after they have been answered, someone must tell the jingoists here that they are wrong. There is a huge chance many of the foreign businesses who have been judged by the KPPU to have violated Anti-Monopoly Laws were innocent and the victims of the corruption that is endemic in this society.
How could unscrupulous individuals hijack the KPPU and the news agenda of a nation to turn perception against foreign investors? This and other questions must be asked. What happened to the Press, the venerble Fourth Estate that was supposed to be a check and balance against precisely such rapacious and unprincipled individuals? What happened to the good guys who would speak up without fear or favor regardless whether the business players were local or foreign? What happens to all that talk about national interests and disrespect for local laws now?
It would be interesting to see whether these questions will be answered in the forthcoming days or whether Indonesia will sink back into the cocoon of amnesia, righteous piety and jingoism that has characterized the rhetoric so far. They a say a nation that does not remember its history is condemned to repeat its mistakes.
(Disclosure: one of more parties or their affiliates mentioned in this posting may be Unspun‘s clients. But this posting is done indepently without consultation with, or suggestion from, them. In other words, its Unspun‘s opinion and Unspun did not receive a black bag, not knowing that it contained Rp500 million inside, to incentivize Unspun into doing others’ bidding).