Former president BJ Habibie was presented with the Press Independence Gold award in Manado, North Sulawesi, on Saturday to coincide with National Press Day.
Head of the National Press Day committee, Margiono, said Habibie was deserving of the medal because he had paved the way for press freedom following the fall in 1998 of former president Soeharto's New Order regime.
“Habibie laid a strong foundation for a new era of press freedom for us all,” Margiono, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI), said during the award ceremony at the
Novotel Hotel in Manado.
He added that in less than a year after succeeding Soeharto, Habibie, via the
then information minister, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Yunus Yosfiah, annulled the regulations that had shackled mass media during Soeharto’s 32-year rule.
“I believe that freedom of the press is necessary in order to restore public order and strengthen democracy,” Habibie said.
Habibie also replaced the 1982 National Press Law with the 1999 Press law. In addition, he provided the opportunity for journalists to form organizations other than the PWI, which was the only press organization recognized by the New Order regime.
Also present at the event were Press Council chief Bagir Manan, North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang and Gorontalo Governor Rusli Habibie, who is BJ Habibie’s nephew.(dic)