Sat, 01 Oct 1994

State publishing firm told to get its act together

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Education and Culture Wardiman Djojonegoro ordered state-owned Balai Pustaka to strive to regain its past glitter as the nation's leading publishing and printing company.

Wardiman revamped the management of Balai Pustaka yesterday, appointing five new directors, including its president, and immediately called on them to improve efficiency.

He said one of the chief tasks of the rejuvenated board is to regain Balai Pustaka's lost markets.

"The success of a company is not judged by its age, but by its management," he said at the induction ceremony at his office.

The popularity of Balai Pustaka's, which was once a trend setter in Indonesia, has diminished over the years with the onslaught of fierce competition from larger, more commercial oriented private publishers.

The 77-year old state enterprise, which is overseen by Wardiman's office, was founded in 1917 as a Dutch publishing firm for Indonesian literature. It printed books in Javanese, Sundanese, Melayu and Madura dialects.

The company's slide began after Indonesia gained independence in 1945. The company was beset by inefficiency and its income fell significantly. It only managed to survive thanks to its monopoly in publishing government school textbooks.


Wardiman acknowledged that the inefficiency was mainly caused by the government's lack of funds. "Our budget for Balai Pustaka is now mainly for publishing school textbooks. We have to admit that private publishers have taken the lead in the commercial book market."

The new management board must be able to work within the allocated budget and compete with private publishers, he said.

"The new directors should be more dynamic," he said, stressing that the immediate target is to turn the publishing company into "a financially healthy state firm whose programs run as planned."

The newly inaugurated officials were Wahyudi Ruwiyanto as president, replacing Zakaria Idris; Nafron Hasjim as production director replacing Parman Munaf; Saparudin as marketing director replacing Soewardi Diposoedarmo and Soekandar Wasitadipoera as administration and financial director replacing Adwityani S. Subagio.

Immediately after the induction as Balai Pustaka president, Wahyudi disclosed that the publishing company is taking on an ambitious task -- to encourage Indonesians to enjoy reading.

"Although Balai Pustaka has its financial limitations as a state company, it will continue to attach top priority to its cultural and social missions," he told reporters.

This task won't be easy because most Indonesians are not "achievement-oriented in their daily life."

"To strive to achieve, a society must enjoy learning, which should be preceded by one which enjoys reading," he said.

Wahyudi, who was formerly head of the ministry's center for staff education and training, said reading materials should be attractive to get people interested in reading.

"Through an evaluation of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, we hope to identify the factors which can enable Balai Pustaka to create new opportunities ... we will think of new ways to make reading more popular," he said, acknowledging that cooperation with the private sector would continue. (pwn)