Home Scandal and Gossip Indonesian Playboy Editor Faces Jail, Refuses to Come Out of Hiding

Indonesian Playboy Editor Faces Jail, Refuses to Come Out of Hiding


If publishing tasteful pornographic smut in America wasn’t fun hard enough, be thankful that you’re not in Indonesia: reports today state that Erwin Arnada, editor of Indonesian Playboy, has been forced into hiding after being found guilty recently of (you guessed it) indecency.

Herald Sun: Prosecutors twice summoned Mr Arnada to serve his sentence after the Supreme Court overturned his acquittal in a lower court and sentenced him to two years in jail last month.

He was ordered to appear today however, his lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said the conviction contravened press freedom and the spirit of democracy.

“This is a very important case. It is not simply about Playboy magazine, it’s about press freedom, the pillar of democracy in Indonesia,” he said.

Though, unlike it’s US counterpart, Indonesian Playboy contains no nudity, this hasn’t stopped one group of vigilantes, The Islamic Defenders Front, from attempting to track down the softcore porno editor on grounds that he’s a ‘moral terrorist.

But the question remains whether Arnada is being targeted for the content he published or the name “Press Council member Uni Lubis said it reviewed the magazine in 2006 “from cover to cover” and found “no violation to the journalistic code of ethics…” even by Indonesian standards. he published it under, as the Jakarta Globe reports,

Despite a New York Times report that “The first two issues of 100,000 copies each sold out briskly, even at the relatively stiff price of $3.80,” it almost appears from these reports that no one, at least those so busy on the offensive, have much bothered reading gawking at Indonesian Playboy at all before drawing their conclusions.

The Jakarta Globe report continues, Maybe it was so decent that it failed to sell,” [Arnada] said. “We must be objective and regard the magazine as a journalistic product judged by its content, not by its name.”

Does it not at least seem that these attacks are really aimed at the Playboy name, a signpost of encroaching Westernization, and, moreover could it be that everyone’s really angry that there’s simply not enough softcore porn to go around? 200,000 copies is, after all, barely a drop in the bucket in a country of more than 200 million…

Only one thing is certain and proven time and time again: unfortunate though it may be, once we begin censoring sexuality — especially under moral grounds — freedom of expression is never far behind.



  1. Free Erwin Arnada !

    To the Honourable Justices
    Supreme Court of Indonesia

    Your Honours,

    I respectfully present my unsolicited objections to the conviction of Erwin Arnada, ex –editor in Chief of Playboy Indonesia. Your judgment – incarcerating him for two years for the crime of publishing photographs of ‘scantily’ clad women in the edition of Playboy Indonesia is an aberration of justice. Sadly the honourable court has succumbed to the power of warped religious hardliners and interpreted the Law of the Land selectively to appease those who seek to drag the modern state of Indonesia back to the medieval age.

    Erwin Arnada did not commit a crime that many other ‘glossies’ haven’t done…depict women in little or nothing. Walk down some streets of Jakarta and you can buy publications that are smutty and blatantly sexual…one well known publication had even printed detailed illustrations of sexual positions. Further, if Erwin is guilty of printing ‘indecent’ photographs then you would have to jail most of the people in Bali. Why just those from Jakarta? Is it because the hardliners cannot influence the Balinese?

    Your Honours, I present my defense of Erwin Arnada, a victim of blinkered justice.

    There is evidence that the Pornography Law has been applied. If this is so then those associated with glossies, advertising, massage parlours and even tourists on the beaches of Bali could be jailed for indecency using your judgment as a yardstick.

    The independent judiciary has been subject to influence by hardliners who have become the self appointed guardians of morality. They (hardliners) have subverted justice by claiming that the icon of American culture, Playboy, was harmful to the ‘morals’ of the Muslim population of Indonesia. This is pathetic and downright absurd. One has only to view the glossies in Bali, the TV programs and more to know that the hardliners objections have no Locus Standi.

    Erwin’s version of Playboy was not immoral nor was it XXX.

    Indonesia has struggled to shrug off its Dark and turbulent Past and has emerged as a vibrant, modern and progressive State – a Republic that has the largest Muslim population in the world under the dynamic leadership of President Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This is a miracle. Unfortunately, your ruling has given the impression that Muslim hardliners control Indonesia and that their diktat rules supreme in Java but thankfully not in Bali!

    If Erwin had been Balinese and had published Playboy from Bali, I wonder what the hardliners would have done.

    In Bali, old black and white photographs of topless Balinese women are sold. One can purchase coffee table art books with these pictures taken many decades ago; Beautiful, haunting and indicative of a vibrant ethos. My question is – Do we convict the photographers, sellers, publishers and seize all this material? Why not? If we can convict Erwin Arnada for the crime of showing scantily clad females then the aforementioned ‘offenders’ should be given life sentences as per the views of the lobotomized hardliners.

    For me and many other friends of Indonesia this is truly a sad day when we have to witness justice dispensed selectively. It is a message to the world that the Republic of Indonesia is under threat from hardliners where free speech is subject to their interpretation and that freethinkers in Indonesia now live under this Sword of Damocles.

    On the eve of the visit of The President of the United States of America, His Excellency Barack Hussein Obama II, to Indonesia, this judgment will most likely give the world the impression that the country is slipping back into the Dark Ages.

    And who do we blame for this?

    On behalf of the freethinkers in Indonesia and elsewhere I appeal to your true sense of justice – FREE Erwin Arnada ex-Editor in Chief of Playboy, Indonesia – And show the world that Indonesia has an independent and liberal judiciary.

    Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

    My letter published in The Jakarta Post –
    Write in now for Press Freedom…..!!!!

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