Radio Netherlands Worldwide has presented a symposium to wish its audience in Indonesia farewell. On 1 July, RNW’s Indonesian radio broadcasts will cease and its Ranesi website will be wound up. Work is being done, however, on the possibility of starting up again on a project basis, covering themes such as tolerance and sexual health.
About 100 people attended the symposium in Jakarta marking the closure of RNW’s Indonesian desk. As well as speeches by RNW’s General Director Jan Hoek and the Dutch Ambassador Tjeerd de Zeeuw, there was an enthusiastic discussion about internet freedom in Indonesia.
Mr Hoek went through what had led RNW to cut its activities in Indonesia. “From next year we’re getting 70 percent less money to fund what we do. That’s why important choices have to be made.” He explained that attention would focus on countries where press freedom was under severe pressure. This meant that Indonesia would no longer be a target area.
When asked whether RNW might return to Indonesia if the economy in Europe picked up, he answered:
“That’s for a new Dutch government to decide. People at Radio Netherlands are already looking into the possibility of launching a number of projects to do with tolerance, a voting guide, sexual health and how to deal with Indonesia’s water problems.”
Ambassador De Zeeuw defended stopping short-wave transmissions:
“Democracy and press freedom are developing so well in Indonesia that old-fashioned short-wave radio will definitely not return. Technical developments mean that you now have access to so many news sources that in the future Radio Netherlands won’t need to play a role as far as this goes.”