Yudhoyono laments lack of official statement on Tanjung Gusta prison

INDONESIA - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has regretted the clumsiness of both central and local governments in issuing an official statement on the Tanjung Gusta Penitentiary riot that occurred in Medan, North Sumatra, on Thursday.

"I waited for a response and timely reaction, but between the central and local authorities in Medan, it was not fast enough. There were 10 hours without an official statement [on the incident]. It's not good," said Yudhoyono on Saturday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Yudhoyono said an official statement should have been immediately issued by the officials without having to wait for complete information.

"You don't need to wait until everything is completed. Just issue the statement that there has been an incident and the government is still dealing with the situation, etc," Yudhoyono said.

During the meeting, the President appreciated Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin's decision to depart to Medan to directly monitor the situation, but again regretted the absence of an immediate official statement following the minister's visit.

According to Yudhoyono, an official statement was needed to avoid the perception that the government allowed the situation to occur.

The President also said he first received information on the riot from mass media, instead of from his own aides.

"On the incident at the prison in Medan, I first knew of it from live reports on television stations. A number of international television channels covered the incident faster than the information I received from the system. And this [slow response] is for the umpteenth time," said Yudhoyono.