This journalist mentioned in the article below is a brave, dedicated person who is very worthy of the award. Another journalist from this same organisation joined Hardi and I on a trip last month and I found him to also be courageous and dedicated. Until you have had to face fear and work in an atmosphere of secrecy it is impossible to know what these independent journalists have to contend with - often on a daily basis.
INDONESIA: Journalist Metta wins Udin Award
Metta Dharmasaputra wins for investigative report at center of defamation case between 'Tempo' magazine and palm oil producer Asian Agri
The Jakarta PostWednesday, August 27, 2008
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has awarded Metta Dharmasaputra of Tempo magazine the prestigious Udin Award for uncovering an alleged tax embezzlement by one of the country's top palm oil producers, PT Asian Agri.
The award, given for exceptional contribution to press freedom, was presented by Vice President Jusuf Kalla during AJI's 14th anniversary celebration in Jakarta on Tuesday night.
Metta was chosen for the award by a panel of judges consisting of The Jakarta Post chief editor Endy Bayuni, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) executive director Usman Hamid and Press Council chairman Abdullah Alamudi.
"His story in Tempo Magazine on an alleged tax evasion by Asian Agri has led him into a tough situation. His cellular phone was tapped, he was terrorized, the magazine he works for is sued for Rp 5 billion (US$545,000). The case is now still in trial," Endy said as quoted by Antara news agency.
The Central Jakarta District Court on Monday failed to hand down its verdict on a lawsuit brought by Asian Agri against Tempo for defamation and adjourned the trial until September 4.
Meanwhile, Asian Agri is currently being probed by the tax office for allegedly causing the state to lose some Rp 1.34 trillion through transferring prices and marking up expenditures. Eight people -- seven Indonesians and one foreigner -- have been named as suspects in the case.
AJI also awarded the Tasrif Award to Hanny Sulistyaningtyas of Kompas daily newspaper and Indonesian Radio Network Community (JRKI) for contributions in defending the public's right to information.
Usman Hamid said JRKI had been consistent in disseminating information to the public through a network of community radio, a method that had become very efficient for farmers, fishermen, rural communities, environmental groups and other civil society groups.
As for Hanny, Usman said her story on an alleged bribery case against the Attorney General's Office (AGO) top official, Urip Tri Gunawan -- a state prosecutor, was one of the first that reached the public.
"Her story on corruption and bribery practice in the AGO has opened the eyes of the public," he said.
Date Posted: 8/27/2008