Prita Mulyasari & Digital People Power

Jun 10th, 2009, in IM Posts, Internet, by

Prita MulyasariBlogs and social networks are helping Indonesians to become more vocal and to fight for free speech.

Any person who follows Indonesian news closely could not have missed the story of Prita Mulyasari. Prita is a 32-old housewife who in an e-mail titled “Penipuan (Fraud) Omni International Hospital Alam Sutera Tangerang” to friends complained about the diagnosis and treatment she received from Omni Hospital in Banten. That e-mail became public on the internet and has been spread to numerous mailing lists. The Omni Hospital became aware of this and decided to charge her with defamation.  Prita lost a civil case and was ordered to pay a Rp. 261 million fine.

Prita Mulyasari
Prita Mulyasari

But after being named a suspect of violating Article 27 of the Electronic Information Transaction Law and Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code Prita have been detained in Tangerang women’s prison prior to her trial. This was the moment for the Indonesian internet community to come into action and express their outrage. A Facebook cause group called DUKUNGAN BAGI IBU PRITA MULYASARI, PENULIS SURAT KELUHAN MELALUI INTERNET YANG DITAHAN has reached over 250,000 members and a website dedicated to the cause is sometimes unreachable because of heavy traffic.

Because of this mounting public pressure Prita has been released from prison and put under city arrest prior to her trial. All presidential candidates have visited her (Megawati) or voiced their support for her. The Attorney’s General Office is planning to question Tangerang prosecutors, who apparently also received free medical care from the hospital, about their decision to charge Prita. Furthermore the House of Representatives' Commission IX on population, health, manpower and transmigration has called on the Omni International Hospital, Tangerang to drop its libel suit.

Ika Ardina, 38, an office manager and mother who lives on the outskirts of Jakarta, was upset with hearing the news a mother ended up in jail because she complained. At first she contacted members of a online mother’s group she recently joined but this didn’t result into any action. Things really started off when she created the afore-mentioned cause page on Facebook. On the power of social networks she commented:

“I never thought it was going to have this impact. I was just trying to find a way to channel my anger over this injustice we’d witnessed”

Many others have lauded the power of virtual online communities but the very same power has also brought Prita into trouble. She said:

“I am confident that technology, such as the Internet and Facebook can lead to good things — but it can also lead to bad things, like my case for example. I am still traumatized by my three weeks in jail. I used to be active on the Internet and on my FB account, but not after this,”

Sources:


63 Comments on “Prita Mulyasari & Digital People Power”

  1. avatar Odinius says:

    Well that’s disturbing.

    Hopefully the outrage this has provoked will provide the impetus for changing the libel and defamation laws.

  2. avatar Brother Mouzone says:

    I know they say there is no such thing as bad publicity but I honestly don’t see any advantage for Omni to keep pursuing this – they really need to cut their losses.

    I only wish I was a customer so that I could boycott them…

  3. avatar Adrian says:

    In all the press cover of this matter, I have not seen any mention of who
    owns the Omni International Hospital in Tangaran. IPeople shld be told
    who they are.

    I suspect there are Indonesian & probably overseas owners.
    If so, they can reasonably be held accountable & asked why they acted as they
    did? Not to include this info is plain bad reporting. It must be a matter of record.

    The administration of Omni International Hospital are not alone in trying to
    prevent or cover up any incompetent or bad treatment of patients. It happens to
    varying degrees world over. The question is whether they can get away with it
    & the law can be used to assist them do in doing so.

  4. avatar Mbak Sri says:

    Brother mouzone,
    oh but you can (if u live in jakarta), which i think many has proceeded in doing just that. Omni’s emotional retaliation towards prita’s complaint has came back and bit them in the ass. A pretty dumb PR moves, if u asked me. They could have just simply explained the “misunderstanding” without creating a hoohaa by filing a lawsuit for defamation. Their emotional move i think will cost them more than money, they’ll lose public trust which is crucial in healthcare industry. Karma plays, i guess.

  5. avatar David says:

    In all the press cover of this matter, I have not seen any mention of who
    owns the Omni International Hospital in Tangaran. IPeople shld be told
    who they are.

    They say they are owned by “Omni Hospitals Group” or “Yayasan Omni International” but doesn’t tell us anything of course, I can’t find out who the directors of it are. Their website, which is down, has this gem on their ‘contact’ page

    To chase the fast growing of patient from around Indonesia and Overseas, Omni International Hospital is anticipated by building Hotel next to hospital, based on Omni’s concept to create Hospital with Mall and Hotel in one place.

    Right.

    My only real experience with hospitals in my time in Indonesia has been with a Catholic place where although it can be infuriatingly difficult to deal with some of the vague and almost incompetent people who work there, well I think their heart is in the right place overall, the ‘international’ hospitals can be just too obviously profit oriented. (Not an argument for state run places though, charitable bodies like my Catholic example above are the ideal in my mind).

  6. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Seksi Mr. Patoengs Yth.,

    Go in flanked by nasty, tatooed Tanah Abang Preman behind you. Then affect an eye twitch and a slight cackle. They won’t mess with you.

  7. avatar Saleh says:

    Saya setuju dengan tindakan bu prita

  8. avatar Odinius says:

    Patung said:

    They say they are owned by “Omni Hospitals Group” or “Yayasan Omni International” but doesn’t tell us anything of course, I can’t find out who the directors of it are. Their website, which is down, has this gem on their ‘contact’ page

    To chase the fast growing of patient from around Indonesia and Overseas, Omni International Hospital is anticipated by building Hotel next to hospital, based on Omni’s concept to create Hospital with Mall and Hotel in one place.

    Right.

    Well, the owners are definitely not a traditional multinational, or they would be able to write. I’d hazard a guess that its locally owned, sadly.

  9. avatar Astrajingga says:

    Hopefully the outrage this has provoked will provide the impetus for changing the libel and defamation laws.

    Prita case may and probably will be repeated in the future as long as the libel and defamation laws hasn’t change. There’re peoples already been in jail (percobaan/probation) for case like this, journalists and also letter to editor writer. Not every case is monitored and supported by digital-people-power or facebookers. Some cases, like Kho Seng Seng case is still in trial, it doesn’t get the attention as much as Prita’s.

    Other problems, unfortunately so many injustice cases happen to the poor, farmer, peasants, and those who live far-far away from internet access. So no one can start to create the impetus or at least spread their grievances. And if someone who has internet access, like activist, NGO, just a good samaritan brings the case to the virtual world, those digital-middle-class-people-power doesn’t really care. “Oh, a landless farmer shot dead by forest ranger for stealing fuel wood and fallen twigs. How lucky I am, living far from forest, so I won’t be an ‘innocent bystander.”

    By the way, is Facebook haram or halal if it used for supporting Prita? She wears jilbab….

  10. avatar Odinius says:

    Astrajingga said:

    Prita case may and probably will be repeated in the future as long as the libel and defamation laws hasn’t change. There’re peoples already been in jail (percobaan/probation) for case like this, journalists and also letter to editor writer. Not every case is monitored and supported by digital-people-power or facebookers. Some cases, like Kho Seng Seng case is still in trial, it doesn’t get the attention as much as Prita’s.

    Other problems, unfortunately so many injustice cases happen to the poor, farmer, peasants, and those who live far-far away from internet access. So no one can start to create the impetus or at least spread their grievances. And if someone who has internet access, like activist, NGO, just a good samaritan brings the case to the virtual world, those digital-middle-class-people-power doesn’t really care. “Oh, a landless farmer shot dead by forest ranger for stealing fuel wood and fallen twigs. How lucky I am, living far from forest, so I won’t be an ‘innocent bystander.”

    I agree, this is the most important issue. The people should have the right to hold hospitals and other service providers accountable. They should also be free to speak their minds. These defamation laws are repressive and anachronistic.

  11. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Nice article, btw, Lairedion Yth.

  12. avatar Oigal says:

    AS,

    my argument is that it just takes time for countries to develop the institutions to control the elites. My question here is: what’s a fair timeline for a country like Indonesia to develop those institutions

    I assume your point here AM, is nobody should be offended or outraged by this afterall it just a matter of time and acceptable collateral damage?

  13. avatar Janma says:

    I agree with Astrajingga….
    The whole case is a misinterpretation of the law. But it is not the only case like this. There are many…. it’s pretty annoying that she gets so much attention, whereas if it was a Chinese Indonesian the press and the public would leave them to rot in jail…. it’s playing on the emotions and sensibilities of mass media audiences…. oh two small babies, oh she wears a jilbab, aw…. so cruel…. meanwhile they play up this whole mushy side and no one addresses the law that put her in that position in the first place…
    Meh!

  14. avatar Oigal says:

    Anyone else catch the story about the baby who was blinded by inept doctors or was that just a beat-up. I only caught the end of the news yesterday?

  15. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    @ Janma,

    Parliament was talking about repealing or changing the internet law last week. Whether or not they’ll get around to it is a different question.

    @ Oigal,

    Um, yes, it’s bada Mum got chucked in jail for complaining on an online forum. (Jeez, I would’ve been the slammer long ago for the stuff I’ve said, if the law was consistent, but we know it’s not. It’s an ass).

    As for you, it’s another juicy tidbit to feed your sense of moral outrage. Your talk of schools, for example of “international standards.” What you really mean is “where can I send my kids, so they can go to good unis and get good jobs”? Fair enough, but hardly a screaming issue of social injustice.

    I’m more interested in low-cost schools for the half of the population who live in deep poverty than schools of “international” standard, which couldn’t help more than a few hundred kids at a time.

    But you sill haven’t answered:

    What’s a fair benchmark for Indonesia to develop institutions ?

    The problem with OMNI is partly one of that dumb internet law. It’s partly one of regulation of the medical industry here, which we all know is crap.

    Why is it crap ? Public servants get a pittance so they do a crap job. Why do they get a pittance ? Because of the size of the public budget. How can we make the budget bigger ? Levy more income taxes (done). Economic growth. Attack corruption.

    You focus on corruption as a central cause, I think, because you love feeling morally outraged. I ain’t hearing a lot of talk from you about solutions. Again, it’s a standard Oigalesque them of problems being due to “corrupt bastards.” Well, Oigal, human nature’s been flawed since the garden of eden, or hadn’t you heard ?

  16. avatar Oigal says:

    Quite a rant really Assmad.

    I was only confirming my understanding of your position, mine is not the issue here. According to you sort of issue shouldn’t offend or outrage anyone is that it, which bit did I misunderstand. Perhaps you could enlighten the lady in the article above just what timeframe you had in mind before anyone should feel anything for her (and many others).

    For someone who isn’t offended you managed to drag a lot out of two sentences.

    Although I do wish would stop assuming what I trying to say in subtext, you are rarely correct and even more so (is that possible) this time. Seriously using kids now as pretext for your outrage against me..mmm..only concern I have ever seen you display was how anyone could be grist for your next trollisque slag.

    Now (not for you AS, your predictable rants are becoming more than boring) what I find interesting is not the lack of facilities and infrastructure which as AS rightly says will take time. It’s the human angle I dont get understand a lot of the time, what on earth were people thinking? Didn’t anyone in control have some sort of moral compass of right and wrong?

    Everyone understand that many officials cannot live on their wages but aren’t some areas (you would think?) off limits morally.

  17. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Oigal,

    You still haven’t answered the question:

    What do you think a reasonable timeframe for Indonesia to develop such institutions ?

    Rant, not really. 300 words or so. Just wanted to explain. “Please explain,” said an Australian woman once.

    But like I said, for you the issue is not schools for ordinary Indonesians, but “schools of international standard.”

    But I do think you get off on feeling morally outraged and think Indonesia’s been generous to that little fetish of yours.

    As for Prita, yes, sad and bad, and annoying for her. But there are bigger problems out there. The whole phenomenon is more interesting, as Lairdie, pointed out for what is says about social networks and emerging middle class identity than Prita’s problems.

    For a long time Indonesia had the highest under-five mortality rate in Southeast Asia – a tragedy that mainly afflicts villages. How many facebook support groups are there for that ? Of course, dead kids never make “schools of international standards,” do they, Oigal ?

  18. avatar Oigal says:

    As for Prita, yes, sad and bad, and annoying for her. But there are bigger problems out there

    Thanks, I understand your position now.. gets more difficult when bullshizer theories collide with real people huh

    For a long time Indonesia had the highest under-five mortality rate in Southeast Asia – a tragedy that mainly afflicts villages.

    “how many facebook support groups are there for that”

    You really don’t know what you stand for do you? Wasn’t your point that people (I) do not have the right to be outraged? but then you are bleating there is no outrage for children mortality?

    I would have thought moral outrage about providing clean water as basic human right was a normal reaction but apparently not unless you agree with someones right to speak (very old/new order of you)

    Perhaps it would be easier if you provided the list of things that can be commented on and parameters therein.

    Schools..you seem to fixated yourself here…(post is about hospital..uniforms n stuff but really?).

    Its not that hard to understand but when I refer to schools its not so my kids can attend (snide shot) but I happen to believe that in a country with multi -issues to be considered the two biggest things one could do to make the biggest difference in the shortest time is concentrate on education and clean water.. or we could just wait coz these things take time hey?

  19. avatar oigal says:

    Of course, dead kids never make “schools of international standards,” do they, Oigal ?

    Tacky even by your low standards..once again you have set the low bar of minimum taste and compassion and failed to reach even that

  20. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Oigal, Oigal,

    People , including you, have the rightto be morally outraged about whatever they want. I’m saying I suspect you get a thrill out of it.

    Paul Theroux said it nicely in his essay “Tarzan Is an Ex Pat,” written about Africa, but equally relevant to Indonesia. Tarzan is a hero, his classical, (white) physique standing in contrast to the brutality and chaos of the jungle. He rights wrongs, gets the girl, swings to the next vine. Male expats, said Theroux, saw themselves as tarzan-type figures, with corrupt local officials providing the background color.

    Indonesia provides a steady supply of wrongs and villains (corrupt bastards). In personalizing the problem by blaming it all on elites, Tarzanism is running rampant. It’s always great to feel morally superior to someone, and who better than thieving public officials ?

    On the schools, you said “international standards.” Hardly a new S-D in the nearest village.

    On clean water, everything costs, Oigal. Whilst there are people out there in the trenches figuring how to manifest the “right” of clean water, you’re huffing and puffing and blaming “bastards.”

  21. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Oh, and by the way, I see you’ve dodged the question again. No answer ?

  22. avatar oigal says:

    Yawn.. Have you ever actaully read any of these books you spout or is all just part of the “gee I’m clever, look me routine”

    Whilst there are people out there in the trenches figuring how to manifest the “right” of clean water,

    Well we can rest assured it wouldn’t be someone like you, too much like actually doing something instead of stroking ones ego

    As some idiot once said

    But there are bigger problems out there.

    Like how clever and self indulgent can a Assmad get.

    Damn..I really have to get a Slinky..far more rewarding than this

  23. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Dodged.
    The.
    Question.
    Again.
    Oigal.

  24. avatar oigal says:

    My my..touchy again today sunshine…really batting none for none aren’t you 🙂

    Whats the question?

    These ones?

    Should people like the lady in the article have to accept that kind of treatment because Assmad has decided in the big picture she has no value. No she shouldn’t but she does because of people Assmad

    Should children have access international standard education (as opposed to access to an international school..silly man) Yes they should but they don’t because people like Assamd have decided that they need to wait until everything else is fixed first.
    Again no value in the Assmad’s big picture

    What is an acceptable time from for the majority of the population to have access to clean drinking water. One would think now but only if it meets the Assmads cause and effect data input.

    Ok everyone including me is bored now

  25. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Wow, Oigal.

    You don’t get it. I thought you were smarter than that. Oh well, it’s not my job to teach you the basics of economic development.

    Comes down to this, Oigal, yes, not what’s acceptable, what’s doable ? Alot of things should be, but aren’t. Alot of things that are shouldn’t be. All these shoulds of yours are a starting point, but fixing the problems don’t have the luxury of your simple categories.

  26. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Last thought:

    Oigal, can you outline the realistic steps by which every Indonesian would have clean water from the tap by the end of 2009, or say, June 2010 ?

    Please include ideas on taxation, funding, source of water supply, infrastructure, tendering, foreign or local companies, accountability, responsibility of central or local government.

    Also pricing — do people pay utilities fees – in that case it’s not free. What happens if people just leave the tap on, then they waste water ? Please also be specific on where the reservoirs will be built and the compensation to be paid to those displaced to build the reservoirs. What about lawsuits ? Paid out of central government revenue or just funding for the water program ?

    Do it all in under 200 words because we don’t like ranting on IM.

  27. avatar oigal says:

    Ah Assmad..Oh course M’Lord, it’s all a bit hard isn’t it. You definately fit into the obnoxious Elite bunch don’t you..”Love to help you ol chap..but its just not doable..now run along..I have bigger problems to ponder”..

    As PJK once said…you are all tip and no iceberg.

    Are you seriously suggesting that say Papua and Sumatera don’t generate enough income to provide the basics of a decent education for every child in the province? Even then have enough left over for health care and water?

    Is it really the lack of money or lack of desire and an acceptance thanks to people like you its all to hard and hey don’t rock the boat

  28. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Oigal,

    I’m saying: give us a plan. Quick sketch of a blueprint of supplies of free drinkable water to every Indonesian by 2010. Financing, (APBN, local bonds, national bonds ? ), water supplies (from where — how do we get it from, say, Roti), how to sterilize the water ? infrastructure construction, regional or nationally-directed ? 200 words. Not too much to ask, right ?

  29. avatar oigal says:

    Laugh..Ooooh In bold now..This becoming fun again..

    I thought it was schools you fixated on..It’s like A.D.D on steriods. Do try be a little sensible and I will try and help you out..

    Let’s try something else then, you have the time line of the brain..

    Ok you win, just so I am clear tho

    How long before children can expect a decent education in your world then..ten years, 20, 30?

    How long is the correct time before people like in the article cease beign “sad n bad” and actually count instead of being irrelevent to the bigger picture(see not disagreeing with you but at least we should tell her)

    How long should the people over in Surabuya have to wait for a roof over their heads.

    Maybe it is too simple..seems to me a good place to start would be make Regents criminally liable for any schools without rooves (guess you would not see much of that where you are)

    Septic tanks..would seem a relatively simple and cheap way to create both jobs and better water qaulity (only Jakartacentric gutter snipe would twaddle on about PDAM water supply managment). Wouldn’t be a bad stimulas plan as well.

    Tax base..gee I dunno…I might start with anyone who buys a car or motor bike has to declare his tax file number. Let’s see if you afford a bile or car, should at least have tax file number, might catch a few cheats as well (5 BMW’s on min. wage would be worth looking at)

    How about something as simple as mandatory public service ads on TV..No Littering

    How about disbanding those bunch of thugs call Public Order Officers and creating additional river cleaning teams..

    Or we could do it your way…just wait it will happen

  30. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Yeah, sorry about the bold, typo. Only the word “realistic” was supposed to be in bold.

    On the tax file number, well I think the government’s made a start there. Check the media reports of new taxpayers (myself included).

    On education, water supply, etc, and timelines — I’m waiting for you. Sorry, though, don’t think the above is a blueprint.

    Let’s get really specific. A blueprint from Oigal — education, clean water supply you name it. I challenge you to put up a post on IM.

    Are you up to it ?

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