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Jakarta Post

Yudhoyono introduces social media diplomacy

  • Hans David Tampubolon and Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 20, 2013   /  08:20 am

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is apparently favoring new media channels over traditional ones to deliver his official stance as the leader of the state.

For example, Yudhoyono has opted to deliver his stance over the recent allegations of wiretapping conducted by Australian intelligence agencies through his social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

The allegations came into focus on Monday when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian reported that they had documents from National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden that showed the agency had wiretapped the phones of Yudhoyono, his wife and several ministers.

In response to the allegations, which have outraged the Indonesian public and government officials, Yudhoyono said on both his Twitter and Facebook accounts that the actions conducted by Australian intelligence agencies had certainly damaged the strategic partnerships between Indonesia and Australia.

He also lambasted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott through his social media accounts for refusing to apologize on the matter. The President said that Abbott '€œbelittled the tapping issue, without any remorse'€.

There was no need for an official press conference to clarify the president'€™s official stance further. Journalists and the public can quote or read the President'€™s official stance on the wiretapping allegations directly.

Regardless of the efficacy of Yudhoyono'€™s method in conveying his diplomatic stance on a highly sensitive issue by using social media, political communication expert Yunarto Wijaya from Charta Politika questioned the effectiveness of the method. '€œThe wiretapping issue is a problem that affects the whole state and every segment of the public. So, the President should have avoided any communication channel or style that could potentially cause bias,'€ Yunarto said on Tuesday.

Yunarto said social media was a new kind of interactive information channel that allowed the audience to engage in the news and sometimes become part of the news. '€œIf statements on sensitive issues are being thrown into social media, then it might breed various multi-interpretations on those statements,'€ Yunarto said.

Yunarto suggested Yudhoyono should use traditional media channels, such as the press, to address his stance on sensitive issues that affect the Indonesian public.

What Yunarto suggested, however, might be easier said than done because Yudhoyono recently had a fall out with the press.

One of Yudhoyono'€™s most trusted aides, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, recently said that the President was disappointed with the Indonesian press because they often spun official statements and eventually tarnished the image of the state leader.

Yunarto said that Yudhoyono should push aside his personal problems with the Indonesian press for the sake of addressing his official diplomatic stance properly. (asw)

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