Loosing the right for diverse and varied information

(While Soeharto is sleeping ……)

Sirikit Syah

These days, newspapers, radio stations, and TVs, are blocked with the news of Soeharto. We wake up at dawn (Subuh) hearing the news about Soeharto on TV and radio, which go on the whole day; in the afternoon, evening, late night, and early dawn again. All is about Soeharto. Fed up by TV news, we may pick up newspapers. There it is: Soeharto’s face and story is all over the pages. The news does not only take the headlines, but also the whole page on the front page, another whole page on the back page. A few more stories are published in the inside pages.

Meanwhile, businessmen and grass-root people who need other kinds of information are wondering. Why is the soy bean price rising? What happens with the small-medium enterprises in crisis? What is the latest development of the Ratification of ASEAN Charter? What is the impact of Obama and Clinton’s campaign to future Indonesia? Why Yanti is executed in Arab Saudi without her family knowing the trial process?

So many questions unanswered: how would grass-root people survive if they cannot even buy tempe and tahu (the basic, cheapest menu) for their standard daily menu? Who will help Indonesia surviving as a nation, when the small-medium enterprises, the hero during global economic crisis, are now failing? In short: where is the “real” information, which may guide us living our lives?

As fellow journalists defend their heavy reporting on Soeharto, indeed, Soeharto story has many criteria to be worth covering: actuality, prominence, magnitude, controversy. But it is lacking significance. Soeharto is not a matter for Indonesian people right now. People need to be focused on other more important matters: financing education for their children, seeking jobs, putting standard menu on table on daily basis, finding tricks to overcome transportation obstacles (especially in East Java areas, which are affected by the Mud), starting lives after flood or earthquake disaster.

Soeharto is not a matter anymore. What will matter with this frenzy media coverage of the health or the anticipated death of Soeharto is how our government treat this issue.

The coverage of Soeharto’s state of health has become out of proportion. It consumes 30 to 50% of newspaper space and broadcast air time. We, media consumers, are robbed of our rights for free, varied, and diverse information. We are being fed a news story that has no significance with us. How will Soeharto’s story help us solve the problem of our daily lives? People work twice as hard and for less money in the Mud area in Porong-Sidoarjo, East Java; other people are struggling to overcome the trauma of disaster in Aceh, Jogjakarta, and the cities along Bengawan Solo (from Ngawi to Gresik).

We are loosing momentums. Global economic battle goes on while we are glued to a room in Pertamina Hospital waiting for ‘we are not sure what: the recovery or the smooth death of Soeharto’. We will become a nation with less knowledge, less networking, less opportunities, among other nations. We are the kind of nation which spends Rp 17 billions for a tourism website and yet, is still far left behind by Malaysia (the ‘thief’ of our culture) in the number of tourist visits. We are angry when our song is sung by other people, but we never appreciate song writers. Global economic principles allow foreign workforce to work in Indonesia, and our government does not prepare Indonesian workforce to compete in our own land. Let alone competing in foreign lands. Our labors are sent home and at home they face competitors in the forms of technology and more capable foreign workers.

While Soeharto is sleeping, while we are being occupied (forcefully, because we have no other choice) with his story, while the media is being obsessed; an Indonesian woman is executed in Arab Saudi, tempe and tahu/tofu disappearing from the markets, broadcast regulation’s implementation is postpone for another two years, and many other more important issues are missing from media attention.

Soeharto is not the matter anymore. But how we all, particularly the government, treat this issue and solve the Soeharto’s case will be written in history. We are a forgiving nation. But we will forgive if Soeharto or his family asks for forgiveness. We are a lawful nation, the law shall solve the case fairly. There is no emotion in law: no hatred feeling, no love, no anger, no revenge. We have to trust the law. Otherwise, wrong-doings will be repeated. Present and future leaders will learn from this case: leaning that wrong-doings will be easily forgiven, learning that it would be okay to corrupt.

2007

Perihal LKM Media Watch
Mass media are watchdogs. But who watch the media? Let's do it together. Watch this very powerful entity, for better journalism, better Indonesia, better world. http://www.sirikitsyah.wordpress.com

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