The Fourth Pillar of Democracy


By Muhammad Natsir Tahar

After the executive, legislative and judiciary branches, there is fourth pillar of democracy, namely the press. It is not rethoric statement but absolute. This is a major  commitment in UUD 1945, at least as strengthened by Jimly Asshiddiqie. Democracy needs professionals who become a bridge between lower classes of society and elite.

The Indonesian press is massively different from the Alexandrian papyrus press, Julius Caesar or Emperor Quang Soo. When they become messengers or subordinates of the executive. The Indonesian press is the pillar that first grew in the psywar against the colonial.

When the Trias Politics concept for Indonesia was still stuck in Tan Malaka's 'Naar de Republiek Indonesia', press pillars were used by intellectuals from Soekarno, Hatta, Dr. Soetomo, Ahmad Dahlan, Muhammad Natsir, Dowes Deker, HOS Tjokroaminoto, WR Soepratman, Agus Salim, Ki Hajar Dewantara, Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, Adam Malik, Hamka, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, not to mention all.

After Indonesia's independence, some of the intellectuals got their Trias Politica, the pillar of the press lay like bullet casing. They seemed to forget that they were former journalists. There are only traces of banning and scorching. They are not as strong as true democrat Thomas Jefferson who dares to say: "It is better to have a press without a government, than to have a government without a press".

I can understand why Montesquieu did not include the press in the Trias Politica, because at that time before his eyes the press was the Emperor's rebellion. The French Newspaper The Gazette de France was founded in 1632 by king Theophrastus Renaudot under the protection of Louis XIII and thereafter. This newspaper became a propaganda instrument for the monarchy.

Democracy of Indonesia was born as premature and invalid. It is seem there is trias politica but auto-feudalist.  Without command, the legislature and the judiciary should get a little lower in front of the executive. Even though they are equal. Saparation of power in Montesquieu’s proposal, refined into power sharing, to conspire behind the press under oligarchic arrangements.

There is no difference between a president, governor or mayor and journalists on duty there. What  makes the difference is they control state facilities and money, while the press lives alone on the path of poor and paradoxical journalism.

What if because of it the press seems inferior, absolutely not. The press must keep their heads up, look them in the eye and point their nose if they make a mistake.

The press is trapped in dilemma profession ethics, industrialism and politization of the media. The fourth state of democary is slimping, due the press doesn’t hold state power and money. This becomes the weapon of the other pillars to tempt the press with little budget in the public relations or publications sector. Even to serve the imaging of election democracy.

CCTV installed in public facilities and crossroad that can used to spy people. But how people can control the work space of the rulers and bureaucrats. Is there a wide screen that can be watched in rollicking about the conspiracy in there. How do they manage the budget and so on?

The press will always is blocked to reveal faster, they blocked access to press work, so that APBN and APBD keep leaking,  Garuda Indonesia recorder a debt IDR 12.6 trillion, Waskita Karya IDR 103 trillion, Inalum USD 4 billion,  Krakatau Steel IDR 35 trillion, PLN IDR 394 trillion, Health BPJS have deficit IDR 56 trillion and Jiwasraya defaulted IDR 12.4 trillion. A series of cases as the tip of the iceberg.

Or if the press is not fast, so Harun Masiku will become a mystery in digital age, to mention one of a small instance of conspiration and the press succeed to reveal it. George Orwell (1903-1950) a British writer said, “Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose”. Happy National Press Day 2020. ~MNT