President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has warned Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring against regulating multimedia contents, a plan that sparked strong protests among Internet users this week.
While Yudhoyono did not mention the minister’s name when he issued the warning during a Cabinet meeting here Thursday, he made it clear the warning was meant for Tifatul, who is currently visiting Europe.
The Communications and Information Ministry, which Tifatul heads, has reportedly drafted a ministerial regulation on multimedia content, a move many fear will threaten press freedom and the freedom of speech, despite its aim to “fight cyber crime” including child prostitution.
“I want to remind you all, members of the Indonesian United Cabinet, that if you plan to draft a government regulation or bill, you must first report to the President. After I approve it then you can start drafting the regulation,” Yudhoyono said as he opened the Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office.
“Maybe there is a belief at this ministry questioning the freedom in the use of technology and its negative impacts on the community and students … but this is a sensitive issue. You can’t just draft such regulations,” he said.
The President said the public should be involved in the drafting of the regulation, and said the ministry should seriously consider the “urgency” and the “aim” of the regulation, as well as working out how it would be implemented.
He also made clear his position on the issue, saying he was not involved in the plan to issue the regulation, adding that perhaps Tifatul was not either.
The draft of the ministerial regulation is said to have only been discussed at the directorate general level, and apparently had not been approved by Tifatul.