Media mogul Harry Tanoesoedibjo said he would visit the Jakarta Police this morning to prevent the late President Suharto’s eldest daughter from retaking control of his national entertainment channel, Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia.
Harry told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday evening that he would contest Siti ‘Tutut’ Hardiyanti Rukmana’s claims to the broadcaster.
‘Just come to police headquarters at 8 a.m.,’ he said.
The battle between Harry, who controls a vast media empire, and Tutut, whose family once owned the only three private TV channels in the country, may turn on arcane legal points, but this much is clear: Tutut wants back into a game she and her siblings once dominated.
On Sunday, Tutut said that a procedural error in the registration of a change of ownership of TPI with the Justice Ministry in 2005 meant that she still owned the station.
The issue has been the subject of a long-running legal battle between the two former allies. During the Suharto era, Harry was known to be close to the Suharto family.
But those days are long behind. A source close to the issue said on Tuesday: ‘Tutut’s legal basis for her claim, a Ministry of Justice decree, was falsified.’
Tutut’s lawyer, Harry Ponto, urged Harry Tanoesoedibjo to let the police sort it out.
‘We welcome their move to take the dispute to police. In the past, [Tutut’s] claim over TPI was denied through closed-door maneuvers,’ the attorney said.
The lawyer referred to the involvement of a Justice Ministry company registration Web site run at the time by PT Sarana Rekatama Dinamika, which was owned by Hartono Tanoesoedibjo, the mogul’s brother.
The company’s operation of the site is at the center of a corruption case that has seen Hartono and former Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra charged with graft on Monday, an action that presumably emboldened Tutut’s aggressive stance.
Tutut’s camp claims that a change in the ownership of TPI that was registered on March 18, 2005, was revoked by the ministry, leaving her in control of the station.
A ministry official declined to comment on the case. ‘I have to study the issue first,’ ministry spokesman Martua Batubara said.
On Monday, Tutut said she controlled the station and it was operating normally. She appointed Yapto Soeryosumarno, a longtime friend of the Suharto clan, as chief executive of TPI, which broadcasts mostly dangdut music videos and low-brow soap operas.
This month, Tutut also filed a civil suit against Harry Tanoesoedibjo’s PT Berkah Karya Bersama, which she appointed in 2002 to help deal with the station’s heavy debt load in the wake of her father’s ouster from power in 1998.
She claims the company misused her appointment letter to hold a shareholders meeting on March 18, 2005, to illegally wrest control of the station from her.
She is seeking Rp 4.3 trillion ($465 million) in damages.
On Sunday, Media Indonesia reported that Yapto said a decree issued by the Justice Ministry on June 8 had revoked a previous decree from March 21, 2005, that gave control of the station to PT Berkah.
The Web site of Harry Tanoesoedibjo’s PT Media Nusantara Citra says the company controls TPI, RCTI and Global TV, among many other properties that have made MNC one of the biggest players in the Indonesian media market.