In Battle with Governor, Bali Post Forced into Apology


Bali’s biggest Indonesian-language newspaper, Bali Post, has lost its long-running battle with Governor I Made Mangku Pastika over misreporting, and has been forced to publish an apology in various local publications.

The case began in September last year after the Post ran a front-page story quoting Pastika as calling for the disbandment of Bali’s customary villages. The comment was claimed to have been made in response to a violent land dispute between villages in Klungkung.

Pastika immediately denied having made such a comment, and formed a special team to take on the newspaper. The governor initially filed a complaint with the Indonesian Press Council, but later filed a civil suit demanding financial compensation and a public apology.

During the trial, judges were shown video footage of the visit to Klungkung during which Pastika was alleged to have made the comment, which, the court found, proved that the Bali Post reporter who wrote the contentious article had not been present at the time.

The reporter, Bali Putra, the Post’s editor, Nyoman Wirata, and its owner, ABG Satria Naradha, were indicted in the case.

On Tuesday, presiding judge Amzer Simanjuntak found in Pastika’s favour.

“We find that the defendants published inaccurate and false stories, thus violating the presumption of innocence, as well as Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press,” he said, ordering that the paper issue a public apology.

“The defendants should issue a public apology towards the plaintiff, the island’s customary villages and the public in general,” he said.

Under the terms of the sentence, the Post has been ordered to print a full-page public apology to Pastika for six days running. The paper has also been ordered to pay for similar front-page adverts in five other local papers.

Pastika’s team had demanded that the Post pay damages of Rp150 billion, but the judges did not agree. The Post was instead ordered to cover the cost of the trial, at Rp391,000.

Suryatin Lijaya, lawyer for the Post, said that they would appeal the verdict.

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