Sat, 12 Apr 2003

'Lampung Post' terrorized

Oyos Saroso H.N., The Jakarta Post, Bandar Lampung

Dissatisfied with the Lampung Post daily's coverage of governor elect Alzier Dianis Thabranie, whose inauguration was delayed by a corruption case, around 50 supporters of Alzier terrorized the newspaper's office on Jl. Soekarno-Hatta here on Friday, demanding a correction.

The protesters came from the South Lampung and Tanggamus regencies and threatened to bring thousands of people to ransack the office if the newspaper published stories discrediting the governor.

"Lampung Post, in its April 10 edition really discredits Pak Alzier. We are ready to die for him. Whoever dares to make absurd stories about him will have to face us and the Lampung people," said Iskandar, spokesman for the protesters, in a meeting with the newspaper's editorial staff.

He accused Lampung Post of treating Alzier as a criminal and demanded the daily to make a correction on its front page, the same space where the story in question was printed.

The daily's edition published a story on the provincial police, reporting that the police had set up a team to hunt down and arrest Alzier, who has been declared a suspect in a corruption case.

The National Police Headquarters in Jakarta has summoned the suspect three times, but Alzier has failed to show.

Alzier won the Lampung gubernatorial election on Dec. 10, 2002, but President Megawati Soekarnoputri has not yet issued a decree to swear him in as governor to replace Oemarsono.

Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said it was impossible for the president to install Alzier, because of his status as suspect in the case.

Alzier's lawyer Edi Rifai has accused the central government of interfering in the gubernatorial election, because his client was not a favorite for the governor's post.

Both Megawati and her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), which she chairs, favored Oemarsono, who ran in the gubernatorial election for a second term.

Lampung Post chief editor Djadjat Sudradjat regretted the incident, but said he would not bow down to force.

He said his reporters had gathered the news from the provincial police, and that there were no sentences discrediting Alzier.

He also acknowledged that he had received several threats over the telephone.

Managing editor Sabam Sinaga said he would publish a report on the protesters' objections of the piece, but said it would not be a correction of their earlier article.