Most parents and new couples do not want their children or future children to become lawmakers because of the growing negative perception of the profession, a survey reveals.
The Indonesian Survey Circle ( LSI ) found in its latest study that a staggering 56.43 percent of the 1,200 respondents were reluctant to see their children become members of the House of Representatives.
The study, conducted from Nov. 12 to Nov. 15 in seven provinces, reveals that only 37.62 percent of respondents said that they encouraged their sons or daughters to pursue the job.
“According to our survey in 2008, only 31.32 percent of respondents perceived being a lawmaker as a negative profession for their children. The figure climbed about 25 percent in the latest survey, reflecting the fact that people have higher levels of resentment for the profession,” Rully Akbar, an LSI researcher, said during a press conference in Jakarta on Sunday.
In spite of lawmakers’ high salaries and large degrees of authority, most parents said that they were bothered by the fact that many legislators had been implicated in corruption cases.
“Apparently, parents really consider the moral value of their children’s jobs … We found the same level of resentment among male and female respondents, and those who live in urban and rural areas,” he said.
During focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, as many as 69.55 percent of respondents perceived House members as people who only thought about their own group or other vested interests. Only 22.76 percent believed that legislators fought for the people.
Rully added that a large portion of respondents believed that lawmakers had conducted inappropriate acts, such as extramarital affairs ( 71.1 percent ), living lavish lifestyles ( 78.9 percent ), skipping or sleeping during meetings ( 87.3 percent ) and humiliating behavior, such as accessing pornographic websites during a meeting ( 69.7 percent ).
Most respondents felt that lawmakers’ performance was average ( 43.83 percent ) or poor ( 46.10 percent ), while the remaining 6.49 percent of respondents applauded their work.
Separately, Democratic Party lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul lambasted the survey, calling it saying the pollster had carried out an “inconsequential” study.
“Possibly, the respondents are those who have failed to become legislators, so they don’t want to see their children fail like them … In my big family, we want our children to be lawmakers, because they look at me [as a role model] who has been successful in eradicating corruption by working as a lawmaker,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Looking at the declining reputation of legislators, Maruar Sirait from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle ( PDI-P ), suggested political parties needed to improve their recruitment systems to attract good legislative candidates.
“On the other hand, the mass media should report balanced and comprehensive news about each politician, which eventually helps citizens in choosing the right candidate,” Maruar said in a telephone interview.
Ali Rahman, a 53-year-old parking attendant, suggested people avoid sweeping generalizations.
“I frequently meet lawmakers when they have lunch at this restaurant, my place of work. Most of them are nice individuals, while a few of them are pompous people,” said Ali, who works at a restaurant behind the House in Senayan, Jakarta.
“Personally, I want my only daughter to be lawmaker, because I believe it is up to each individual whether he/she will be a good politician or not,” he added. ( yps )