Building U.S.-Indonesia Mutual Understanding Since 1994

Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom in Indonesia

Program Note: As we now have a second speaker, Endy M. Bayuni, Former Editor-in-Chief of the Jakarta Post, the February 15 Open Forum will be a panel discussion on the status of freedom of expression in Indonesia, including an update on press freedom.   Please join us on February 15 for an informative discussion, including Q and As.

Press Freedom in Indonesia

Endy Bayuni

Endy M. Bayuni is a fellow at the East West Center in Washington DC. A journalist since 1983, he has built his professional career mostly with the English-language daily The Jakarta Post with stints as the Jakarta correspondent for Reuters and the Agence France-Presse (AFP). He has written editorials and commentaries for the newspaper since before the downfall of the Suharto regime and long after. His opinion pieces have been published in foreign publications, including The New York Times, and he was a regular contributor to the Washington Post/Newsweek PostGlobal blog.  He has written extensively on Indonesian politics, foreign affairs, interfaith relations, and the changing media landscape.

He served as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper for six years until August 2010 to work on his book projects. He continues to write for the paper as a senior editor. Bayuni was a Jefferson fellow at the East West Center in Hawaii University in the fall of 1999 and a Nieman fellow at the Harvard University in 2003/2004.

Mr. Bayuni will discuss how the media in Indonesia deals with the challenges it faces today.  Now working in a relatively free environment, the media is living up to its role as the fourth estate in democracy: it is free from government control, it is actively scrutinizing government activities, and it is providing ample space for greater public participation in the political processes.  The challenge now facing the media in Indonesia is maintaining its credibility and nurturing the public trust.  Mr. Bayuni will discuss the bottom-line and political pressures faced by journalists, pressures on journalism from the growth of social media, and other challenges to the press maintaining its role and relevance.

Freedom of Expression

Sophie Richardson

Sophie Richardson is the advocacy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division and oversees the organization’s work on China. A graduate of the University of Virginia, the John Hopkins-Nanjing Program, and Oberlin College, Dr. Richardson is the author of numerous articles on domestic Chinese political reform, democratization, and human rights in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. She has testified before the European Parliament, the U.S. Senate, and the House of Representatives. She has provided commentary for BBC, CNN, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Dr. Richardson is the author of China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Columbia University Press, Dec. 2009), an in-depth examination of China’s foreign policy since the 1954 Geneva Conference, including rare interviews with policy makers.

While media freedom and freedom of expression have expanded significantly in the 12 years since Indonesia began its transition from authoritarianism to democracy, a number of laws criminalizing speech remain on the books.  According to one of the provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Code, individuals are prohibited from publishing statements that harm the reputation of others.  At the same time, Indonesia’s Constitution protects individual freedom of expression.  Dr. Richardson will present Human Rights Watch’s views on how the Indonesian government should revise its criminal defamation laws and craft appropriate civil defamation provisions to better safeguard freedom of expression while still adequately protecting reputational interest.

Please join us for this lively Panel Discussion.