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Departemen Penerangan Republik Indonesia
Ministry of Information of Republic of Indonesia

Although the 1945 Constitution and the 1982 Press Law provide for freedom of the press, the Government maintains some serious restrictions and monitoring continues. Following the May 1998 departure of President Suharto, freedom of speech improved significantly, as sensitive issues were discussed and dissenting opinions were expressed at public demonstrations, seminars, and in statements to the press. Following Suharto's resignation, press freedom improved significantly, and there were few signs of the self-censorship that had pervaded reporting in the past, even on subjects known to be sensitive to the Government. Although the English-language press was more forward in the move toward openness, the Indonesian-language press was not far behind. Attempts by authorities to direct local journalists and editors on what they should print apparently have diminished significantly.

The Government in June 1998 revoked the 1984 decree allowing the Minister of Information to cancel press publication licenses. The Government had used this decree to control the press in practice. The Government also simplified the licensing procedure for starting a publication. However, the Government issued a new decree in which it retained the right to suspend publishing licenses for an unspecified period of time

The process of preparing, formulating, reviewing, and finalizing of draft proposals until the dissemination of law and policies on telecommunications is carried out by the Ministry of Tourism, Posts and Telecommunications. Sometime the process of launching new laws and policies on telecommunications requires the involvement of various related Ministries such as the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Information, ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc.

The Ministry of Information is involved in activities such as granting TV broadcast station licenses. The Government operates a nationwide television network with 12 regional stations. Private commercial television companies, most with ownership by, or management ties to, the former president's family, are required to broadcast government-produced news, but they all also produce news and public affairs programming independently.

Over 600 private radio-broadcasting companies exist in addition to the Government's national radio network. They all were required to belong to the government-sponsored Association of Private Radio Stations to receive a broadcasting license. The government radio station produces the program "National News." The new regulations issued by the Government in June reduced the number of these government broadcasts that a private station must run per day from 14 to 4. These broadcasts are relayed throughout the country by private stations and 53 regional affiliates of the government network.

The Government regulates access to Indonesia, particularly to certain areas of the country, by visiting and resident foreign correspondents. It occasionally reminds the latter of its prerogative to deny requests for visa extensions. Special permission is necessary for foreign journalists to travel to East Timor, Aceh, and Irian Jaya.

After Suharto resigned the new President, B.J. Habibie, announced his cabinet and swore them in on May 23, 1998, with Lt. Gen. Yunus Yosfiah serving as Minister of Information. The Indonesian army's most decorated soldier, Yosfiah commanded the special forces unit blamed for the deaths of five Australia-based journalists in East Timor in October 1975. In 1978 while a battalion commander in Timor he is alleged to have killed Nocolao Lobato, then leader of the East Timorese resistance movement FRETELIN. On 15 July 1997 it was reported that Maj. Gen. Yunus Yosfiah, commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces [ABRI] Staff and Command College, replaced Lt. Gen. Syarwan Hamid as chief of ABRI sociopolitical affairs.




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