Mon, 03 Oct 1994

Foreign exchange rates omission

To be frank, it was very disturbing to read Capt. R.W. de Jong's letter in The Jakarta Post on Sept. 27. I cannot refrain from expressing my opinion.

He criticized The Jakarta Post for not publishing the Foreign Exchange Rates and complained about the paper's apology that the omission was caused by human error. He could not understand that The Jakarta Post, being the biggest and most prestigious English newspaper in Indonesia, can make that kind of mistake.

This de Jong seems to be a real perfectionist, who cannot stand or tolerate such error. He sounds like an angry teacher, who insists that all lessons be understood and obeyed by all the pupils. He said that next to being a news broker, The Jakarta Post has the task of being an educator by informing its readers of what's happening in other parts of the "shrinking" world.

De Jong expects, as another reader remarked, more foreign news in The Jakarta Post and not repeated local (Indonesian) news. Local news can be obtained in Indonesian language papers in more detail.

What a real smart guy is this Mr. de Jong is! Newspapers all over the world have their own policies and strategies in reporting. Style and taste are the specific characteristic of every media institution, that cannot be easily argued against. Many, if not all newspapers try to serve and satisfy their readers with the most important and attractive news, foreign as well as domestic, in well-balanced proportions.

De Jong further observes that due to shortage of space and to "infernal advertisements which no one among The Jakarta Post readers is interested in," human errors have caused the omission of the column. How can de Jong say that no one is interested in advertisements? First of all, I am sure that advertisers are interested in their ads and the paper, of course, earns money for publishing the advertisements. People who need the services are also interested.

I am certain that many people have foreign currency, but what is the urgency of knowing the exact rate changes every day? It's simply mad to "fall down dead" (Dutch: neer dood-vallen) over such a matter. There is no need and no reason whatsoever for The Jakarta Post to review its lay out or to publish more articles (foreign exchange rates) in the paper than are scheduled. Knowing the foreign exchange rates twice a week is enough to keep anyone up-to-date enough to profit from currency transactions.

As a matter of fact, I'm hesitating to further react to de Jong's letter. But the matter he raised is irresistible. He says, "I know Indonesia better than maybe 99 percent of the indigenous Indonesians." I have no comment on this statement, as he may be right, although I do not know what de Jong bases his statement on. He further questions why the Dutch stayed in Indonesia till the sixties and why Indonesians feel most at home in the Netherlands when outside their own country. Those two questions do not deserve to be answered, not even by my grandson in the fourth grade of elementary school.

De Jong further preaches: "educate people through your paper, let them know the true history and not a mixture what I often see on TV, a mixture of 'company' and Dutch colonial reign." Again no comment. I suspect that de Jong is well read, that makes him such a knowledgeable man that he is too self confident.

The positive reaction to de Jong's letter, made by Werner Wasmuth, is more surprising. Mr. Wasmuth remarks at the end of his letter, that "under colonialism, such mistakes (made by The Jakarta Post) never would have happened." What a brilliant thought! I wonder if Mr. Werner knows what he is talking about. This is also not worth reacting to, but is really irresistible...



Note: We believe Mr. Wasmuth's had his tongue very firmly planted in his cheek when he made his closing remarks.

-- Editor