Tifatul Sembiring made a debut as Indonesian Information Minister by courting bloggers. Two days after his appointment as minister he accept an impromptou invitation and showed up at Pesta Blogger 2009 to open the event.
There he promised freedom of expression – with the usual caveat about responsibility. Since then he’s been Twittering furiously and won some admiration from the online community for being technically savvy, compared to the other politicians.
Lately, however, he’s been under heavy attack from the onliners in blogs, Twitter and Facebook about the attempt to have the draft law on multimedia content (known locally as RPM Konten) passed. The law is offensive to onliners as it makes the carrier or provider of the infrastructure, rather than the content generator, liable to prosecution. So if, say, you run a forum and someone posts something offensive or something indecent on the forum you get slapped with the law, not the person posting it.
This resulted in the onliners creating such a racket that this morning President SBY in the Cabiner meeting rapped Tifatul Sembiring on the knuckles by asking his inisters to not jump the gun and to exercise caution before giving statements to the public about sensitive issues.
That is Indonesian politician-speak for “you goofed up.”
Hence the statement from Tifatul below that he woul cancel the draft law if it was considered to be restricting the press.
Tifatul also sai that he’s not read the draft. That’s a bit difficult to believe because he was heard speaking to the BBC that he’s read it.
That’s a minor point though. The real point here is that Indonesia has a vibrant democracy where the onliners, the e-chattering classes, can cause a minister to be rapped on the knuckles by the president.
Now let’s see Malaysia get so democratic. Can’t imagine the bloggers in Malaysia forcing Rais Yatim to do a climbdown.
Multimedia Content Draft Will be Canceled if Press Freedom Threatened: Minister
Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring has said he would cancel the draft on multimedia content if it was considered to be restricting the press.
Tifatul made the statement upon landing in Jakarta from Sweden on Friday for a meeting with a number of cellular phone companies.
“If the draft is restricting the press, I will automatically erase it,” Tifatul told Kompas.
He said the draft had been in the process of being written since 2006, so it was possible that the draft was not in accordance with the present developments. He said that he had never received any report that the draft was about to be launched.
The multimedia content draft had sparked criticism and protests from Indonesian politicians, internet communities and the House of Representatives over concerns that it might violate freedom of expression.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also discussed the draft in Thursday’s cabinet meeting. He asked his ministers to not jump the gun and to exercise caution before giving statements to the public about sensitive issues.