More ministers in trouble over extramarital affairs
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Nearly two years before he concludes his term in office, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s focus has been distracted recently by media reports about “love affairs” being enjoyed by his Cabinet ministers.
This current love story involving Cabinet ministers is reminiscent of similar romances conducted by several ministers who eventually lost their jobs.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro was the press corps’ “most-wanted” when they spotted him at the State Palace in Central Jakarta last week.
Journalists followed him asking for comments. On this occasion, however, it was no longer about alleged corruption surrounding the procurement of Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets.
This time, Purnomo had come under the public spotlight after a gossip tabloid ran a cover story on his alleged affair with Sundari Soekotjo, a prominent singer of keroncong (old-fashioned folk) songs.
Purnomo ignored the journalists’ requests, however, and merely gave them a thumbs-down as he left the Cabinet meeting room.
On Wednesday, Purnomo appeared at the palace again for another meeting.
To the journalists’ surprise, he did not attempt to escape reporters’ inquiries. Instead, he said the tabloid had published an apology over the “slanderous” reports.
Purnomo also showed off a copy of the edition with the apology.
“You can read it yourselves, and don’t ask me questions about it again,” the minister said in a high tone.
However, sources have confirmed that Purnomo did indeed have a “special” relationship with Sundari. A source close to the Defense Ministry and senior officials at the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) told The Jakarta Post that an intelligence agent had confirmed that Sundari had been Purnomo’s mistress for at least five years.
The source also said that Purnomo had bought a house and car worth billions for the singer.
Less than a month after the revelation of Purnomo’s alleged affair, Golkar Party deputy chairman and Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono appeared on numerous television gossip shows that claimed the middle-aged actress Sovie Djasmin had been involved in a romance with the minister.
Sovie said her relationship with Agung began in the 1990s when she was involved in a Golkar campaign.
“Our relationship reached a peak in the 2000s. In 2001, I was still married but it was problematic. Then Agung and I had serious talks about the future of our relationship,” Sovie told merdeka.com.
Agung shunned reporters when asked about the claims, but he did not deny knowing Sovie.
Yudhoyono has dismissed a number of his aides for having extramarital affairs. Sources within the State Palace said First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, who allegedly hates “cheating men”, was a “significant factor” in the dismissals.
First, former public housing minister Suharso Monoarfa of the United Development Party (PPP), then transportation minister Freddy Numberi of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, and mineral resources minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh were all subjected to gossip after reports of their alleged affairs circulated widely on the Internet.
Following the reports, Suharso’s wife reportedly filed for divorce and, subsequently, Suharso allegedly
Freddy, meanwhile, was rumored to have had an affair with a television journalist. It was his wife who reportedly disclosed the scandal. Both Freddy and the journalist, however, strongly denied the accusations.
Meanwhile, a video circulated on the Internet depicting a man, who looked like Darwin, engaging in sexual relations with a woman rumored to be his secretary. Darwin also strongly denied the allegations.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha refused to comment on these latest minister scandals.
However, regarding the possibility of dismissals, Julian merely said “the President regularly evaluates his ministers’ performances”.
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