Kompas pleads mea culpa over apology that never was

Updated On: May 06, 2005

Jakarta - After initially standing by a report which had threatened to strain further Indonesia-Malaysia ties, the Kompas newspaper  admitted on May 4 that it had published an inaccurate article relating to a naval incident in the Sulawesi Sea early last month. 

    Kompas, arguably Indonesia’s most influential newspaper, also apologised to Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for saying that he had offered a verbal apology to Indonesia over the incident.  
    In a report headlined Kompas and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Reconcile, editor-in-chief Suryopratomo admitted that the vernacular daily had not received any verification from Mr Najib before carrying a report on April 15 that Malaysia had apologised to Indonesia over the naval incident. On April 8,  two vessels from the Malaysian and Indonesian navies were engaged in a “series of brushes”  in an area of the Sulawesi Sea claimed by both countries. 
     Mr Najib, who is also the Defence Minister, denied that he had made any apology to Indonesia and threatened to sue Kompas. 
     In its May 4 report, Kompas also said the Indonesian Defence Attache in Kuala Lumpur, Colonel  Hartind Hazrin - supposedly the source of the offending article - admitted that he had never met Mr Najib. 
     Mr Suryopratomo said Kompas had no intention of tarnishing the image of Mr Najib or that of Malaysia
    “Apart from trusting our source, we also felt that the article reflected the magnanimity of a Malaysian leader. Since there is no truth to the report, Kompas apologises to DPM Najib and Malaysia over the incident,” he said in a statement. 
     Mr Najib said on May 5 that he accepted Kompas’ apology and would not pursue the matter any further. 
    “As a matter of principle, my decision (to accept the daily's apology) is based on national interests and not for personal reasons," he told reporters.

* Kompas and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister reconcile (Kompas, May 4)

* Indon daily apologies to Najib, Malaysians (Bernama, May 4)

* Najib accepts Kompas’ apology (Bernama, May 5)