From Paras Indonesia http://www.parasindonesia.com/read.php?gid=342
June, 14 2006 @ 11:16 amSCTV Red Cards Suharto’s Daughter After Own Goal
A vain attempt by former dictator Suharto’s middle daughter Siti ‘Titiek’ Hediati Hariyadi to improve her super-rich family’s bad image by presenting the World Cup soccer tournament on her SCTV television network backfired after she was pulled off the air following a deluge of complaints about her ineptitude.
Titiek, whose company is the majority shareholder of SCTV, was at the helm of a three-member panel of hosts for each night’s opening game over the first three days of the World Cup. Her dire lack of knowledge and passion for soccer was painfully obvious, even though she was seated alongside Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) vice president Dali Taher and former national soccer coach Danurwindo.
Her incompetence was perhaps best demonstrated during the opening game between Germany and Costa Rica, when she erroneously referred to Germany as “Jerman Barat [West Germany]” – apparently forgetting that West and East Germany had reunited back in 1990.
Soccer fans, forced to watch SCTV because it is the exclusive Indonesian broadcaster of this year’s World Cup, lambasted Titiek’s ignorance, inexperience and awkward performance. They demanded she be replaced by someone more professional.
Human rights and anti-corruption activists were equally disgusted by Titiek’s new television job, saying it was a huge insult to the victims of the notoriously corrupt and repressive Suharto regime. In some Jakarta bars, sickened viewers walked out when they saw Titiek on screen. Others threatened to throw bottles at television screens.
SCTV received numerous complaints by telephone, email and fax, while online chat groups condemned the network for “tarnishing” the Word Cup coverage by featuring Suharto’s daughter.
Titiek presented games on Friday (9/6/06), Saturday and Sunday, but was noticeably absent from broadcasts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – much to the delight of most viewers.
SCTV public relations manager Budi Darmawan claimed no one had ordered the network to make Titiek a presenter. He said the only reasoning behind the decision was the “surprise factor”.
He admitted that many viewers were annoyed by the inclusion of Titiek as a lead presenter. "Hundreds of people complained to us through the available channels, such as our call center, faxes, etc. This is certainly criticism for us. This criticism is part of democracy,” he was quoted as saying by detikcom online news portal.
On early Monday he said SCTV was taking note of the harsh criticism “but we cannot immediately make a decision based on the viewers’ wishes because this takes time and must go through a process”. Yet it appeared the decision-making process was accelerated as Titiek did not appear that night.
Darmawan on Tuesday stopped short of saying that SCTV had decided to permanently remove Titiek from the presentation team. He claimed she would only be presenting certain matches and was not scheduled to work every single night of the tournament. Tuesday night’s guest presenter was presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng, who unlike Titiek knows about soccer and public speaking.
Operators of SCTV’s telephone hotline have declined to explain the reason for Titiek’s absence. One SCTV staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, said the network did not yet have a definite schedule for when Titiek would resume her role as a presenter. "There is not yet a schedule. For the time being, including tonight, Titiek will not appear,” he said.
He admitted that after Titiek was taken off the air, SCTV received many phone calls of gratitude. "Those who were not happy [with Titiek] said thank you," he said.
The concept of featuring unqualified “experts” as sports presenters and analysts is nothing new in Indonesia, where television networks often use celebrities or military heavyweights as guest commentators. SCTV clearly set the tone for its presentation of the World Cup on Friday night, when it decided not to air the opening ceremony but instead treated viewers to the fatuous antics of local comedian Komeng, followed by “expert” analysis from Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso and Jakarta Police chief Inspector General Firman Gani. Other insightful commentary has been provided by shrieking costumed models and a seemingly retarded man prancing about in a costume of Goleo VI, the 2006 World Cup’s lion mascot.
The overwhelming disapproval of Titiek as a soccer presenter is not the first time the Suharto clan is said to have suffered due to the World Cup. When Suharto was forced to resign amid mass riots, protests and economic turmoil in May 1998, many pundits suggested he might have been able to hold onto power a bit longer if Indonesians had been distracted by that year’s World Cup, which took place over June-July.
Soccer fans in parliament expressed relief that Titiek was no longer a presenter. Ida Bagus Nugroho, a member of the Indonesian Democratic party of Struggle (PDI-P), said he felt more comfortable watching the coverage with presenters who understand the intricacies of the game.
"I’m happier than when Titiek was a presenter. If she was on, I immediately changed the channel. It’s better just to see the game live,” he told the press on Tuesday.
He said the public would be more excited about watching the World Cup if SCTV could provide knowledgeable commentators, whereas ignorant presenters would only repel viewers. "We would be much more enthusiastic about supporting our teams if there were commentators who could explain their prospects. It’s different when the commentator or presenter doesn’t know anything. So it was strange to see her [Titiek],” he said.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Untung Wahono said it was natural for Titiek to appear as a television presenter because she is a major shareholder in SCTV. "In the current world of business politics, it’s natural if a stakeholder appears. So it’s not strange,” he said.
But he added that for the sake of professionalism and keeping viewers’ happy, SCTV should choose presenters with greater expertise. “It would be better if the commentators are experts. Perhaps Gus Dur would be better,” he suggested.
Former president Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid is near-blind, but is known as a passionate soccer fan with a great knowledge of the game.
Ade Daud Nasution, a member of the Reform Star Party (PBR), said Titiek’s appearance as a presenter was merely an effort to improve the Suharto family’s image and divert attention from the recent decision by the Attorney General’s Office to drop its corruption investigation into Suharto.
Some members of parliament seemed reluctant to comment on claims that Titiek was the world’s worst soccer presenter. Tosari Wijaya from the United Development Party (PPP) insisted he was not watching the World Cup. "Hey, I haven’t watched it. Don’t ask me about football,” he was quoted as saying by detikcom.
One legislator in favor of Titiek is National Awakening Party (PKB) member Effendy Choirie, better known as Gus Choi. "I actually enjoy it, this shows another side. Meaning that until now, there have always been celebrities that I did not know, whereas Titiek is the child of the former power holder,” he gushed.
He said the public should have an objective attitude toward Titiek as she is not yet beset by legal problems, unlike her father and some of her siblings. He admitted Titiek lacked skills as a presenter but claimed she would improve. "Her quality may indeed still be awkward. But that’s only for the first one or two times. I’m sure she will become more articulate within a month.”
Deputy parliament speaker Muhaimin Iskandar of PKB likewise suggested that Titiek should improve her presentation skills before SCTV risks entrusting her with its reputation and the nation’s top rating sports event.
Detikcom has been running an online poll on whether Titiek is a good soccer presenter. About 80% of respondents said she was a problem and should be replaced.
Several respondents told detikcom that Gus Dur, talk show host Jaya Suprana and even Tommy Suharto’s estranged wife Tata would all be better presenters than Titiek. Others suggested experienced female television personalities such as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s daughter-in-law Annisa Pohan and veteran soccer presenter Tamara Geraldine.
Only a handful of respondents voiced support for Titiek, with one praising her “sweet, beautiful and pretty face, as well as white skin”. Another viewer said Mayangsari, the sultry mistress of Suharto’s middle son Bambang Trihatmodjo should be paired up with Titiek.
Soccer fan Sapriel Bahauddin wrote: “It’s true that when Titiek Suharto comes on I switch to another channel. I feel embarrassed and uncomfortable to see how stiff and nervous Titiek is. It’s as if she’s presenting a village wedding, whereas the program is going to tens of millions of people. Pity Titiek, because she is visibly lame, but it’s a greater pity for the soccer fans who are watching. Like me, we are missing out on comments and analysis from guys like Danurwindo and Dali Taher, who really are soccer people. But if you want to replace Titiek, please don’t have Gus Dur. Sure, in the past Gus Dur’s commentary on soccer was a pleasure. But now he likes to speak in any way, not caring about other people’s feelings and more importantly he can’t personally see the atmosphere of the game on the television broadcast. If you want to also force Gus Dur on us, I don’t want him to touch on politics. Really, please.”
Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) executive director Denny Januar Ali said Titiek’s role as presenter would not win the Suharto family any popularity, but would instead create further public antipathy.
"The appearance of Titiek is a blunder. As soon as there is a cut to her, even more viewers of the World Cup feel disturbed. This is a marketing mistake,” he said.
He said forcing Titiek on the public would negatively affect the Suharto family, “not because she is Suharto’s daughter, but because she has a bad command of soccer techniques and lacks presentation techniques”.
Denny said it would have been better if Titiek had undergone at least three months’ training to improve her knowledge of soccer and her appearance on camera.
The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) concurred that SCTV had erred by including Suharto’s daughter as a presenter. It said the move would be damaging to both SCTV and the Suharto family. "It really is a blunder for both sides. It is counter-productive for the television network and has no benefit for the Suharto family. It could even sink the television network's image,” KPI member Ade Armando was quoted as saying by detikcom on Monday.
Speaking after a hearing with parliament’s Commission I on media and information, he said there was no reason for having Titiek as a presenter, apart from trying to boost her family’s political image.
He said television networks should air programs that are in the public interest and not merely serving the political interests of their owners. He pointed out that under Law No.32/2002 on Broadcasting, television networks should not be used for propaganda or other vested interests. "It’s very regrettable that a big station like SCTV is so brazenly conducting propaganda without any shame. It’s frightening that television carries propaganda for the owner or people close to the owner.”
Prior to her job as soccer presenter, Titiek’s last public appearance was in May 2006, when she presented aid to refugees fleeing the Mount Merapi volcano and to victims of the Yogyakarta and Central Java earthquake. She also used the visit, which was broadcast by SCTV, to apologize for any mistakes of her father.
The purpose of Monday’s hearing between KPI and Commission I was to discuss sex and violence in the media, but it soon degenerated into a debate over whether Titiek should be allowed to appear as a soccer presenter on her own network.
KPI member Bimo Nugroho on Sunday told detikcom that although SCTV has the right to make Titiek a World Cup presenter, the network should not forget that viewers need competent commentators.
He said SCTV could consider replacing Titiek with Gus Dur and Jaya Suprana because the pair had served as presenters of a previous World Cup and kept viewers greatly entertained and informed.
"Gus Dur is far more appropriate than Titiek because he’s smart, funny and has a mastery of soccer techniques … With all due respect, I see that Titiek is unsuitable to be a presenter, especially for the World Cup,” he said.
"It is unfortunate that because of SCTV’s choice, viewers now change the channel when Titiek appears,” he added.
Media observer Veven S.P. Wardhana said the decision to have Titiek as a World Cup made little sense and could backfire on SCTV. "It’s strange that SCTV chose her, as Titiek actually is not known to have the capacity to become a soccer presenter. Possibly SCTV wanted something different,” he said.
"Anyone could appear as a presenter, especially a shareholder, but if done at random this will be boomerang on SCTV,” he said.
Political researcher Sukardi Rinakit of the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate said Titiek’s emergence as a soccer presenter was obviously part of an effort by the Suharto family to make a political comeback.
"But their political interests are not in the short-term. Like a crop, they are sowing the 'awareness' seed that the Suharto era was better than difficult conditions of the present,” he was quoted as saying by detikcom.
The comeback effort was also seen when Titiek visited earthquake refugees in Yogyakarta last month, he added.
Rinakit said the attempted return to politics was most likely to be made after the next national elections in 2009. "This seed could only be cultivated between the next 10 to 15 years. But politics is unpredictable. What happened in the past to Mega could also happen to the Cendana children.”
He was referring to former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, who became president in 2001, more than 35 years after her father, founding president Sukarno, was ousted by Suharto.
Rinakit said he shared the exasperation of viewers upset by Titiek’s incompetence. “Honestly, Titiek’s appearance is annoying to viewers … When I see her I get a headache. What’s going on?”
He said it was possible that lobbying from the Suharto family was behind SCTV’s success in winning the broadcasting rights for the World Cup. "Having Titiek as a presenter could be their reward.”
Armando on Tuesday said SCTV’s effort to promote Titiek’s image through the World Cup had clearly failed. “Propaganda entered the field of entertainment, moreover in sport, which attracted public attention.”
Asked by detikcom whether viewers were smart enough to realize that SCTV had been trying to force-feed them “Suharto propaganda”, he replied: “Now, the more important question is whether the propaganda was smart or not. It wasn’t! Because Titiek was a bad presenter. For example, something can be sold if the person has value, such as being interesting, well spoken, amusing, pretty, young and so forth. But Titiek did not have that. So Titiek’s propaganda failed. I’ve read that many people ridiculed Titiek Suharto. I felt she became a casualty, a martyr for the family. When she appears in the future, everyone will mock her. That’s negative propaganda for Titiek and SCTV.”
He denied that managers at SCTV had set a trap for Titiek, knowing that she would come across as a rich, spoiled, aloof ignoramus. “I think this was ignorance. I do not know who made the decision. I’m convinced that professionals at SCTV must have rejected the decision.”
Armando said SCTV had claimed that Titiek was chosen as a presenter to represent housewives. “Whereas everyone knew that many others were more appropriate to represent housewives. She was not a figure that made households interested in watching. If there was a desire for higher ratings, why not use Tata or Mayangsari? But for us in KPI, the main issue is how SCTV could allow itself to be used for propaganda.”
Asked whether the KPI would seek any action against SCTV, he said the public had already strongly punished the network by resoundingly rejecting Titiek.
Titiek ‘Hates Dogs’
Titiek was born on April 14, 1959, in Semarang, Central Java. She was the fourth of Suharto’s six children. In May 1983 she married Prabowo Subianto and they later had a child named Didiet. Prabowo went on to become the military’s fastest rising star of the 1990s, being appointed chief the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) and then chief of the Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad). He was discharged from the military in 1998 for ordering the abduction of pro-democracy activists during the final months of the Suharto regime. The couple subsequently divorced amid allegations that Prabowo had masterminded mass riots in an effort to become Armed Forces commander.
A 1999 report by Time magazine’s Asia edition conservatively estimated the Suharto clan’s wealth at $15 billion. The report put Titiek’s estimated wealth at $75 million, including holdings in financial services, power, computers, banking and property, the latter including a residence on London's Grosvenor Square.
The magazine listed her “operating style” style as follows: Chain smoker. Hates dogs. In Jakarta, she slept in one room; her husband and his Alsatians in another. Likes Harry Winston, Bulgari and Cartier. "She loves big chunks of jewelry," says a woman who has accompanied her on excursions to Switzerland and England. Former chairwoman of the Indonesian Fine Arts Foundation, Titiek has a personal art collection valued at more than $5 million. Adores movie stars. At a 1994 Suharto party in Bali to celebrate the opening of Jakarta's Planet Hollywood, she danced the night away with martial arts star Steven Seagal.
Titiek denied most of the contents of the report, though the Suharto family later failed in a lawsuit to sue Time for libel.
The Tainted Generals
Most of Indonesia’s commercial television networks have strong links to the Suharto clan, its cronies and former generals. SCTV is no exception.
On July 21, 2005, tycoon Henry Pribadi’s company PT Citabumi Sacna sold its entire 25% stake in PT Surya Citra Media (SCMA), the parent company of SCTV, to PT Abhimata Mediatama for about $61 million. Titiek, who is a commissioner of Abhimata, was on July 25, 2005, duly named a commissioner of SCTV.
Pribadi, who had been president commissioner of SCTV, was rumored to have been forced to quit and sell his stake because of a falling out with SCTV commissioner/Abhimata boss Eddy Sariaatmadja. The Suharto family was alleged to have bankrolled the purchase to remove Pribadi from the network.
The purchase brought Abhimata’s ownership in SCMA to 80.86%. According to SCMA’s latest annual report, Abhimata as of April 30, 2006, owned 78.69% of the company, with over 1.49 billion shares worth some Rp372.56 billion ($39 million). SCMA booked a net profit of Rp180 billion last year.
SCTV’s current president commissioner is retired Lieutenant General Soeyono, former Armed Forces general affairs chief who served as Suharto's adjutant in the late 1980s and is the son-in-law of former women's affairs minister Mien Sugandhi. He was notorious for branding opponents of the Suharto regime as a latent communist threat, claiming they were using the struggle for human rights and democracy as their cover. In 1995 he accused independent trade-union leader Muchtar Pakpahan, academic George Aditjondro and author Pramoedya Anata Toer of being communists. He was also strongly critical of prominent sociologist Arief Budiman and paranormal Permadi.
Soeyono has been linked to the military’s deadly suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in Jakarta in July 1996 but has always denied involvement. When he later served as secretary general of the Defense Ministry in 1999, he strongly denied reports that crooked members of the military were selling their guns to civilians.
The president commissioner of SCMA and Abhimata is retired Lieutenant General Herman Bernhard Leopold Mantiri, who was Soeyono’s predecessor as Armed Forces general affairs chief and another prominent Suharto loyalist. He was involved in the November 1991 massacre of 271 youths at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor.
After retiring from the military, Mantiri was nominated as Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, but Canberra rejected the appointment because of his involvement in the killings. He was subsequently appointed ambassador to Singapore.
Mantiri, who also accused Indonesia’s independent trade union leaders of being communists, in 2004 unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Regional Representatives Council. In December 2004, his name was linked to allegations that Suharto’s eldest daughter Siti Hardiyanti ‘Tutut’ Rukmana received bribes totaling $31 million from a British arms firm over a deal to sell tanks to Indonesia. He has denied any wrongdoing.
SCMA’s other bosses include Agus Lasmono, the son of Suharto’s cousin Sudwikatmono and also an independent commissioner of SCTV; former Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) head Glenn M.S. Yusuf; businessman Fofo Sariaatmadja who is president director of Abhimata and a commissioner of SCTV (his brother Eddy Sariaatmadja is also a commissioner of SCTV); and tycoon Sumantri Slamet, former commissioner of Bank Internasional Indonesia and Bank Central Asia.
Little Fan Club
The People Love Suharto Association (Ikatan Masyarakat Pecinta Suharto - Imaha) – a group that apparently yearns for a return to greater corruption and political oppression - claimed the inclusion of Titiek as a presenter was the best thing to happen to soccer broadcasts in Indonesia.
"We have the right to say it’s good that Titiek has appeared as a host. We like to watch her because we are bored of seeing regular people. So why do other people say Titiek should not appear? Of course that emerged because of feelings of enmity,” Imaha chairman Iwan Panggu was quoted as saying Sunday by the Suara Merdeka daily's online edition.
"Titiek should not be discouraged, but keep appearing until the end, many people like your appearance. It’s funny; there are those who claim that Titiek’s appearance has a political agenda. In fact, we all know that soccer is soccer and politics is politics. There is no connection,” he said.
Islamic activist Bambang Junaidi also voiced support for Titiek. "It’s no problem wanting Titiek, Tutut or whoever. She’s only on for 10 minutes. This [criticism] is really exasperating. If you don’t like [her], change the channel, it’s over,” he was quoted as saying by detikcom.
Panggu said it was irrational for the public to oppose Titiek and members of her family, most of whom live on Jalan Cendana in Menteng, Central Jakarta. "My view is, why can’t Titiek be a presenter and why should be she be opposed? Let Titiek be a presenter because anyone can. Why must there be fear of the stench of Suharto or Cendana? Let us hope there are no comments dragging Titiek down to suffer Cendana-phobia,” he said.
Imaha was formed on January 13, 2006, with aim of thwarting efforts to bring Suharto to court for corruption. The group, which claims to have 1,000 members, denies being funded by Cendana.
SCTV’s Coverage Criticized
Apart from having Titiek as a presenter, SCTV has been widely criticized for its high-handed behavior as the sole broadcaster of the World Cup, with threats of legal action against venues and media outlets that display the FIFA World Cup 2006 logo without paying hefty licensing fees.
A bigger complaint is that about only 65% of the country’s 220 million people are able to view the World Cup because residents of remote areas reliant on satellite dishes to access SCTV have to buy a Rp1 million Matrix decoder to view the games. The same goes for cable television subscribers.
"SCTV has the right to telecast the World Cup 2006 in an exclusive manner only for the Indonesian territory. To avoid spill over of this broadcast to South-East Asian countries and Asia-Pacific, SCTV was forced to carry out broadcast randomisation at the time of the broadcast of the World Cup football match 2006. The consequence is, the viewer that up till now only could receive the SCTV broadcast by making use of satellite dish equipment or the parabola will not be able to accept the broadcast of the match," the network said in a statement.
The unofficial option for the country’s fewer than 1 million cable subscribers is to unhook their cable and view the basic Indonesian channels, including SCTV, though a terrestrial UHF frequency aerial. Subscribers without such an aerial can either spend about Rp150,000 to buy a cheap one and hope that it works, or buy the decoder, or watch the games at their local pub.
With SCTV scrambling the matches on cable television, only 56 of the 64 matches will be broadcast live, denying viewers the right to choose between simultaneous games.
Meanwhile, viewers lament that the score and amount of time played are not permanently displayed on a corner of the screen during matches. There have also been the perennial complaints about intrusive advertisements cutting off the English commentary at half-time and full-time. One repetitive advertisement that has irked many viewers is by sponsor Extra Joss energy drink, as it features Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, apparently in Bali, speaking with what appears to be a badly dubbed accent.