TBI’s Authoritarian Legal Threats

TBI has once again shown its true authoritarian colours by making fresh legal claims against this blog. In a nutshell, they have contacted WordPress and claimed that this blog should be shut down because it somehow infringes the trademark or copyright of the TBI name. These claims were made in a ‘legally binding’ letter to WordPress which TBI was informed in advance would be shown in full to the authors of this blog. We have now reproduced that letter in full, and we will have a great deal to say about it over the coming week or so. It is an unintentionally revealing document which shows their poor command of English, their cheapness and their gross dishonesty, but more on those themes later. First and foremost, we want to highlight that this is their true face they are showing: an authoritarian bully who uses intimidation, threats and deceit to silence critics.  TBI is not what it pretends to be; it is a corporate bully which uses oppressive tactics to try and hide its many sins.

Indonesia’s Authoritarian Criminal Defamation Laws

These tactics from TBI do not exist in a cultural vacuum. Indonesia was under the repressive military dictatorship of General Suharto from 1965-1998 and during that time Indonesia was one of the least free and most repressive countries in Asia. The mass media merely ran puff pieces praising the Suharto regime and critics were dealt with harshly. Tens of thousands of political prisoners were sent to gulags on the islands of Buru and Bangka. Though Indonesia has now made the transition to a democratic government, it is very much a work in progress and many of the repressive laws from the Suharto era are still on the books and are used to silence whistle-blowers, political dissidents and people exposing graft/corruption. In trying to bully us into silence, they are following in the well-worn path of anti-democratic oppression which exists in Indonesia.

Amnesty International’s 2013 report on human rights abuses in Indonesia made some very salient points on this topic, which we quote here at some length:

There are ongoing reports of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders, and some have been subjected to criminal defamation proceedings due to their work in recent years.

According to Articles 311(1) of Indonesia’s Criminal Code: “Any person who commits the crime of slander or libel in case proof of the truth of the charged fact is permitted, shall, if he does not produce said proof and the charges has been made against his better judgment, being guilty of calumny, be punished by a maximum imprisonment of four years”, and Article 316: “The punishments laid down in the foregoing articles of this chapter may be enhanced with one third, if the defamation is committed against an official, during or on the subject of the legal exercise of his office”.

That means criminal defamation carries formally the possibly of up to five years and a few months’ imprisonment under Indonesian law.

TBI’s Inner Authoritarian Revealed

TBI in this past has threatened to sue us if we come back to Indonesia. In this letter to WordPress they have also used the dread word “defamation’, which is a favorite tool and tactic of political oppression throughout South-East Asia. Malaysia and Singapore both routinely try to bankrupt political opposition figures by suing them for defamation. In Indonesia criminal defamation has been used to chilling effect on critics of money politics, or those who reveal graft inside government department.

In following this authoritarian path, TBI Senior Management is revealing itself to be a closet autocrat, intent on using intimidation to silence anyone who exposes their frequently immoral and dishonest activities. To anyone familiar with the sociopathic bullying which is a trademark of TBI Head Office, this will not come as a surprise. These latest threats are yet further proof that TBI is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They are evidence that we have been right to critique them all along.


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