Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud M.D. was on Tuesday night selected by RCTI’s Seputar Indonesia news program as its inaugural newsmaker of the year.
“I’m glad. It means the public has acknowledged what I’ve been doing,” Mahfud told the Jakarta Globe after the awards ceremony.
“The awards were decided by upstanding juries, and the results were also presented to the public to confirm.”
Mahfud said he believed he was selected not because of his personal achievements, but more because of the good work done by the Constitutional Court.
“It is because I often speak for the Constitutional Court that I was chosen for this award,” he said.
The two other nominees for newsmaker of the year were US President Barack Obama and former Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
“At first, I had to laugh because I was nominated alongside Obama. As for Sri Mulyani, I understand because we’re both Indonesians,” Mahfud said. “But then I saw that the context was for impact on news coverage in Indonesia that brought about change. Obama might be a prominent international figure, but not regarding Indonesian problems.”
Taufik Kiemas, chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), was recognized as the “true representative of the people.”
Tama Satrya Langkun, a researcher from Indonesia Corruption Watch who was brutalized by unidentified attackers last year over his investigations into police corruption, was named the young newsmaker of the year.
Chris John, the country’s most successful boxer, meanwhile, was named best sportsman and Yohanes Surya, a leading physicist and prominent education advocate, was recognized for his social work.
Rosihan Anwar, a veteran journalist who died from heart failure last month, was awarded the Special Tribune.
Susno Duadji, the former National Police chief detective turned corruption whistle-blower turned graft convict, was named most controversial newsmaker.
First Brig. Norman Kamaru, the Mobile Brigade officer who shot to fame after a video of him lip-syncing and dancing to a Bollywood song went viral on the Internet, was named most entertaining newsmaker.
Arief Suditomo, editor in chief for news programming at privately owned broadcaster RCTI, said the awards were decided based on how much influence people had on the news between May 2010 and May 2011.
“This is the first time the Seputar Indonesia RCTI Awards have been held, and RCTI has been around for nearly 22 years,” he said. “We thought that it was time to show our appreciation to our sources for their contribution to our news production.”
Yunarto Wijaya, an analyst from political research company Charta Politika, said the awards were commendable.
“They could be used as a tool to help educate people about politics, although it’s true that this kind of event is actually pop culture,” he said.
These kind of awards, he added, would hopefully encourage lawmakers and government officials to develop better public communication skills.