Thu, 25 Aug 1994

PP to sue weekly for naming it a debt collection agency

JAKARTA (JP): Amid the mysterious killing of a prominent debt collector, a powerful youth organization is threatening to file a lawsuit against Sinar weekly magazine for allegedly identifying it as a debt collection agency.

"We have already formed a team of lawyers in order to sue the magazine," said Yapto S. Suryosumarno, the chairman of Pemuda Pancasila (PP).

Referring to Sinar's Aug. 15 cover story entitled "A Shock Therapy for the Residue", Yapto said that Pemuda Pancasila, a youth organization affiliated with the ruling Golkar group , is a legal organization and is not involved in illegal activities, including the debt collection service.

The magazine, said Yapto, resorted to "a trial-by-the-press principle" in running the report by indirectly linking the organization with debt collection servicing.

The magazine's lengthy, in-depth report on debt collection servicing included an interview with Johny Sembiring, 62, a prominent debt collector who was kidnapped and killed last week.

Sembiring said in the interview that the government will never be able to abolish debt collection activities because the business community needs them.

Several analysts said that Sembiring's death was closely related to his profession as a debt collector.

Sinar's General Manager Sjam Alamsjah and Chief Editor Wikrama Abidin were not available for comment.


But Eddy Junaidi, the president of Business Information Services, a consultant of Sinar told The Jakarta Post that the weekly's management would probably solve the matter out of court.

"If both sides exhibit goodwill, then why not solve the problem through consensus which is cheaper and faster than going to court," Eddy said, adding that misinterpretation is an unexpected part of journalistic works.

In a related development, Frans Hendra Winarta, a noted corporate lawyer, underlined the need for the parties to settle the matter in a court of law.

"I appreciate (the decision of) Pemuda Pancasila which means they respect the law. It indirectly denied the accusations that Pemuda Pancasila doesn't abide by the law because of their alleged involvement in debt collection activities. It's a positive attitude," Frans said, adding that Indonesia also needs jurisprudence on such a case.

Frans said that the legal battle will also enable the publisher of the magazine to defend its credibility in court over the reports.

Sinar is published by PT Cahaya Rumpunpermata, a company owned by Abdul Gafur, an executive of Golkar, as well as Sudwikatmono and Didi Darwis, both of whom are businessmen. (09)