Wed, 21 Jun 2000

Rizal Ramli reports 'Detak' for defamation

JAKARTA (JP): The National Logistics Agency (Bulog) chief Rizal Ramli filed a report at the Jakarta Police Headquarters on Tuesday over news coverage by Detak weekly tabloid about an alleged bribe attempt.

Rizal said that the news was totally fabricated and groundless.

"The news was politicized and it was kampungan (low-class) politics, sorry to say that," Rizal said.

Rizal added that the news was trying to smear his name by saying that he was trying to bribe 50 members of the House of Representatives (DPR) Rp 100 million for each person to drop a plan to question President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Detak wrote in its June 13 edition that 277 legislators had already signed a petition to question the President's accusation of corruption, collusion, and nepotism against former State Minister of Investment and State Enterprises Development Laksamana Sukardi and former Bulog chief Yusuf Kalla whom Rizal replaced on April 3.

"The news was trying to say that today's Bulog is the same as Bulog during the New Order which had become the ruler's tool," Rizal said adding that he already has made many changes in the agency.

Rizal also denied that the tabloid had tried to contact him for confirmation.

"I have checked my secretary and my staff at the office. There was nobody (from Detak) who tried to contact me," Rizal said.

Detak which is chaired by renowned politician and artist Eros Djarot wrote in the story that they had not been able to contact Rizal because he was accompanying Abdurrahman on his visit abroad.

"I was in Indonesia for the past four months," Rizal said.

Rizal's lawyer Johnson Panjaitan said that his client's right to answer would not be able to rehabilitate Rizal's name. However, he said that they would use the right just to respect the freedom of the press.

"During the New Order, I also fought for the freedom of the press in Indonesia. I was right at the very front," Rizal said.

Another of Rizal's lawyer Dwiyanto Prihartono said that they would demand a compensation Rp 1 trillion for immaterial damages and Rp 100 million for material damages.

Contacted by The Jakarta Post separately, Detak's deputy chief editor Yus Ibik said three of his reporters had tried to contact Rizal at his house, his office, and Rizal's cellular phone.

"Only hours before the printing, we still tried," Yus said.

Yus also said that the tabloid had made a balanced report.

"In the coverage we also quoted a member of DPR who said the gossip (of the alleged bribe) was trashy," Yus said.

Yus said that Rizal still had the New Order way of thinking where everything was connected with politics.

"This is pathetic," Yus said. (08)