A new stage in critic bashing

Indonesian author whacks journalist with his book

The controversy over the book “Membongkar Gurita Cikeas,”  (“Unravelling the Cikeas Octopus”), moved from free speech drama to farce when the book’s author used the volume to smack a lawmaker in the face who had accused him of suffering from hallucinations. Former anti-Suharto activist and academic George Junus Aditjondro was sitting with several other people discussing the book with Democratic Party lawmaker Ramadhan Pohan during the book’s formal launch in Jakarta. Then Aditjondro, who wrote the book, lunged forward and hit Ramadhan near the left eye with  a copy. The incident was televised. Aditjondro’s book was already a hot topic in Indonesia, since it accuses President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party of funneling money from a 2008 bank bailout through various foundations to finance this year’s election campaigns. The book has been pulled from bookstore shelves and been threatened with formal banning despite the fact that most of the allegations seem to come from second-hand sources that have already circulated widely on the Internet and elsewhere.
Just before the assault, Ramadhan was complaining about the book’s content. “He said that George must have hallucinated the idea that $15.9 million(U.S.) from Bank Century was channeled to Jurnal,” said Boni Hargens, a University of Indonesia political analyst who was on the discussion panel, adding that Aditjondro “seemed annoyed” at Ramadhan’s use of the  word “hallucinating.”

The Jakarta Globe

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