A television station in East Java’s Malang district has pulled a musical based on the life of a national hero after police voiced concerns about the program’s “communist” content.
Batu TV was visited by intelligence officials from the local police department to inquire about the musical, based on the life of nationalist and communist leader Tan Malaka.
Sr. Comr. Yantofan, a spokesman for the Batu Police, said the officers found indications of communist-related content in the recorded musical, though he did not provide any details.
“ ‘Opera Tan Malaka’ is totally different from the film ‘G30S/PKI,’ which dealt with the topic of communism in a more traditional way,” Yantofan said on Tuesday.
“G30S/PKI” is a film promoting the Suharto government’s vision of the events surrounding a failed coup d’etat in 1965, which was blamed on communists.
“Because there are elements of communism [in the musical], Batu TV should not broadcast it,” Yantofan said. “And even if Batu TV wants to broadcast it, I wonder who will watch it as [the recording] is blurry.”
Adj. Comr. Kuncoro, an intelligence official from the Batu Police who visited the TV station last Thursday, said the visit was not to ban the program, but simply to “get information about the substance of the program, ‘Opera Tan Malaka.’ ”
“I met with Andry Hoediono, the director of Batu TV. He told me that he had not watched the recorded musical but promised that Batu TV would not broadcast the recording,” Kuncoro told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.
The musical was produced by Tempo TV, a television production company that offered the package to 45 television stations in the country. Ten stations agreed to air the musical on different dates in January.
“Unfortunately, of the 10 stations, Batu TV and KSTV in Kediri [East Java] canceled their broadcasts of ‘Opera Tan Malaka’ after they were visited by intelligence officials from local police departments and were urged not to broadcast it,” said Eri Sutrisno, from TempoTV.
Muftie Ali, the operational coordinator of KSTV, confirmed that intelligence officials from the Kediri Police had visited the station.
“The intelligence officials who came to see us never banned the film, they just advised against broadcasting the film because it contains communist elements,” he said.
Nezar Patria, the chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI), criticized the police’s handling of the program.
He also pointed out that the musical had already been performed live for hundreds of people in October.
“If there is a problem on Tan Malaka, then why can we still enjoy the book about Tan Malaka nowadays? So, it is clear to see that the problem is the lack of understanding of the country’s history at a local level,” he said.
Nezar regretted that BatuTV and KSTV decision to submit to the intelligence units suggestion for canceling the broadcasting of the Opera Tan Malaka.