A known advocate of press freedom, BBC Indonesia journalist, and co-founder of the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI), Ging Ginanjar died in Jakarta on 20 January 2019, news reports said. He was 55. The cause of his death was not known.
Ginanjar was one of the key press freedom fighters during the Suharto government (1967-1998), during which the media was heavily controlled. He started his career as a journalist in Harian Gala in Bandung in the late 1980s, then joined the tabloid Detik, which was banned on 21 June 1994 along with Tempo magazine and Editor. The ban prompted a group of young journalists, including Ginanjar, to organize AJI. (Obituari: Mengenang Ging Ginanjar, jurnalis kawakan yang humoris, 21 January 2019)
“At that time no other organization was allowed to compete with the government-sanctioned press organizations, so it (AJI)was illegal. The new group said they were against censorship and the state publishing permits. This statement and the organization itself were a rebellion that was unthinkable at that time,” Tempo founder Goenawan Mohammad said in a report.
Ginanjar is remembered by his colleagues in BBC as a nurturing, smart, and funny guy.
BBC editor Rebecca Henshke in a tweet said: “@BBCIndonesia and the Indonesian media has lost one of the brightest stars @gingginanjar. A brilliant, fearless, sharp and principled journalist. A magical and fun storyteller. A joy to be with, a great dancer and a true dear friend. You have left us too soon.”
“Ging is a warm person and have a good humor,” Abdul Manan, chairperson of AJI said.
Manan said Ginanjar was involved in the publishing of the bulletin Forum Wartawan Independen, predecessor of official AJI publication, Independen and was active with AJI during the critical time from 1994 to 1998.
“Ging has a special place in AJI history,” Manan said.
Former AJI president Heru Hendratmoko said in an news report on Ging Ginanjar: “He was consistent till the end in his fight for human rights and press freedom, he never compromised.”