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Taking Exception to Exceptions

Bali Governor Pastika’s $16.6 million Suit Against Bali Post Continues

(3/15/2012) The ongoing lawsuit by Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika against a leading local newspaper The Bali Post continued in the Denpasar District Court on Monday, March 12, 2012.

In the latest court session, the governor’s legal team replied to legal exceptions filed by the newspaper’s attorneys. As reported by Radar Bali and Bali Post, one of the governor’s lawyers, I Nyoman Sumantha, refuted the newspaper’s assertion that their suit required powers of attorney signed by the traditional villages of Bali, religious leaders and the public in general. Citing a 2004 law on provincial governance, Sumantha told the Court that the governor’s right to represent the people of Bali was a matter of law.

During the same proceedings, Sumantha listed a number of points of law rejecting the legal exceptions of The Bali Post. The governor, as plaintiff in the case, discounted The Bali Post's assertion that the case should be removed from civil court and handled under the National Press Law. Citing a similar case in which businessman Tommy Winata sued Tempo Magazine, Sumantha told how Winata won his case without resorting to the press law.

The governor’s attorneys also again rejected news carried by Bali Post on September 19, 2011, that incorrectly quoted the governor as calling for the abolition of traditional villages (Desa Pakraman) following civil unrest in the villages of Kemoning and Budaga. The attorneys told the Court, “The reporter from The Bali Post was not in attendance during the governor’s visit (to the villages), but only obtained his news from another mass media member, changing that news so it no longer resembled the original.” The governor’s lawyers continued, saying the defendants failed to check the veracity of their news with the governor’s office. Adding, “It's clear that the Bali Post news was not obtained from a credible news source.”

Responding to the newspaper’s assertion that no law had been broken in the case, Pastika’s attorneys told the Court they believe that a violation of the journalistic code of ethics was also a violation of the law.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for The Bali Post, Gde Sudhiantara, remained steadfast in asking that the case be settled under the National Press Law. He said this approach would avoid the case from becoming overly complicated.

According to Sudhiantara: “The plaintiff complaint uses the words ‘check and balance,’ saying the news was not credible. This means that the basis (of the complaint) is the Press Law. If, in fact, it is determined that a violation has occurred, then it should be resolved under the Press Law No. 40 of 1999.”

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