House Speaker Weighs Suit Against Indonesian News Website
Ezra Sihite & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie said on Thursday that he might take online news portal Detik.com to court for misquoting him and sparking an outburst of public criticism against him.
“Detik should have weighed the benefits of making such news reports when there was no substance to them,” Marzuki said, accusing the news portal of repeatedly misquoting him the past.
Speaking at the legislative building, Marzuki said his legal advisers were studying whether to file a lawsuit. They were also studying whether the reports violated the Press Law.
Marzuki’s comments came after he was roundly criticized for reportedly saying that corrupt officials came from several renowned state universities, including the University of Indonesia and Gadjah Mada University (UGM).
David Tobing, a lawyer who is also a UI graduate, has since reported Marzuki to police on the grounds that it was a baseless accusation. David’s move was also met with criticism from House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung, a UGM graduate.
“I see that the reactions of some people have been excessive,” Pramono said. “Why do they need to take Marzuki to court? What is there to complain about? If we are talking corruption, it is in all sectors, the House and government included, and the question of alumni is just irrelevant.”
He speculated that it was the construction of the sentence used and the circumstances, during a lecture at UI, that had distorted Marzuki’s words.
Marzuki told journalists at the House that it was not his intention to link corrupt officials to specific universities, but rather to say that perpetrators of graft were highly educated.
“Look at the reality: Those who engage in corruption nowadays are those with high education, and that doesn’t preclude [alumni] from UI, UGM, ITB [Bandung Institute of Technology], et cetera. That means there is something that has to be addressed in our education process,” Marzuki said.
Rudi Yohanes, the chairman of the UI Alumni Association, along with four other executives of the group, met with Marzuki to seek clarification on Thursday .
“Reading news reports in the media in the past few days, we were surprised and had difficulty accepting them,” Rudi said.
He said after the meeting that Marzuki had explained the matter comprehensively, including by showing a script of the speech he gave.
“The media, according to Marzuki Alie, only quoted in part his statement related to the citing of the universities, but even the quotes were also distorted from their substance so that it led to the controversy,” Rudi said.
He added that the association would also verify the case through a video recording of the event made by the campus.
Additional reporting from Antara