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Meet four Indonesian celebrities on the current political scene

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, February 21, 2017  /  11:19 am
Meet four Indonesian celebrities on the current political scene

Ahmad Dhani is perhaps one of the most talked about musician-cum-politicians in the country. ( Susanto Setiawan)

Some Indonesian celebrities don't just perform in front of the camera or on stage, they can also be found taking part in the country's active political scene.

Below are four renowned Indonesian celebrities who have swapped their showbiz path for one in politics:

Ahmad Dhani

Ahmad Dhani is perhaps one of the most talked about musician-cum-politicians in the country. Running alongside Saduddin, Dhani was among the candidates in the Bekasi regency election held on Feb. 15. However, the latest report by the General Elections Commission (KPU) stated that the pair had come second to the regency's incumbent pair, Neneng Hasanah Yasin and Eka Supria Atmaja.

Prior to the election, Dhani's move into politics started when the Gerindra Party announced its plan to nominate him for the Surabaya mayoralty in 2015. Alongside activist Ratna Sarumpaet, the musician also placed himself as an opponent to Jakarta's governor and incumbent gubernatorial candidate Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. The climax occurred when Dhani and Ratna, along with eight other renowned figures, were named suspects in an alleged attempt to stir up sentiment against the government hours before a massive rally on Dec. 2 last year. Both were later released, however, Dhani remains a suspect for allegedly defaming President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

As an avid supporter of the Gerindra Party’s Prabowo Subianto, the front man of famed Indonesian rock band DEWA 19 created a campaign video expressing his support during the 2014 presidential election. The video later caused uproar as Dhani was seen wearing black paramilitary attire that was similar to the uniform worn by SS commander Heinrich Himmler.

Sigit Purnomo "Pasha" Syamsuddin Said


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The vocalist of Indonesian pop band Ungu (Purple), Sigit Purnomo "Pasha" Syamsuddin Said, is currently deputy mayor of Palu, Central Sulawesi. Alongside Hidayat, Palu's mayor, he was inaugurated in early 2016.

In January this year, Pasha was accused by members of Palu Legislative Council (DPRD) of using the regional budget (APBD) to pay the rent on his private house in Palu, although he already had an official residence. However, this accusation was rejected by head of the city's Public Equipment Division, Layla Husain, who told that Pasha had used his own money to rent the house.

Founded in 1996, Ungu is known for popular hits such as "Demi Waktu" (In Time), "Tercipta Untukku(Made For Me) and "Kekasih Gelapku" (My Secret Lover).

Read also: Five interesting facts about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Zumi Zola Zulkifli


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Actor Zumi Zola bid farewell to his acting career following his inauguration as regent of Tanjung Jabung Timur, Jambi, in 2011. He later won the gubernatorial election in 2015 and is currently the governor of Jambi province, serving alongside Fachrori Umar for the 2016-2021 period.

He recently caught the public's attention when he paid an impromptu visit to Raden Mattaher regional hospital in Jambi alongside several cameramen. He discovered that the hospital’s reception area was deserted. Furious, he summoned all the hospital's doctors and nurses and told them that he had received many complaints about the hospital's poor service and therefore pledged disciplinary action.

His action attracted various responses. The deputy chair of the Indonesian Internists Association (PAPDI), Ari Fahrial Syam, expressed his disappointment to “What he has shown is just anger; [he] even kicked the trash bin. It clearly showed a leader who could not control himself, especially in front of the cameras,” he said.

Meanwhile, local daily newspaper Jambi Independent’s website posted an open letter written by Zumi Zola. “Just imagine if I was a patient and the assigned [doctor or nurse] was not on standby at that moment, I would surely be very disappointed,” he wrote, adding that he did not mean to humiliate, blame or insult people. “What I did was purely express the complaints of Jambi's people,” he said.

The governor often captures his moments with Jambi's residents, as well as activities related to his duties, on his official Instagram and Twitter accounts. Last year, he was recognized with a Kawastara Pawitra award from Culture and Education Minister Muhajir Effendy for his attention to educational programs for school principals, according to

Zumi Zola, who is the son of former Jambi governor Zulkifli Nurdin, previously acted in several Indonesian movies and soap operas, two of which were Bawang Merah Bawang Putih (Onion and Garlic) and Culunnya Pacarku (My Boyfriend is a Nerd).

Rano Karno


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Along with his running mate Embay Mulya Syarif, Indonesia’s legendary actor Rano Karno entered the 2017 regional election scene in Banten province as governor. However, following the KPU's latest results, they pair have lost to Wahidin Halim and Andika Hazrumy.

According to, Rano Karno was initially appointed deputy regent of Tangerang alongside his running mate Ismet Iskandar for the 2008-2013 period. After that, he was elected as deputy governor of Banten alongside Ratu Atut Chosiyah for 2012-2017. However, he later became the interim governor of Banten following Ratu Atut's suspension for corruption in 2014. Although many argued that Rano Karno had also received money, as instructed by Atut, he always denied the allegations.

Rano Karno is mostly known for his appearance as the main character in one of the most popular sinetron (soap operas) in Indonesia, Si Doel Anak Sekolahan (Doel the School Kid). He had also starred in various films, namely Gita Cinta dari SMA (High School Romance), Ranjau-Ranjau Cinta (Love Mines) and Arini. (kes)