The Jakarta Post
The election of several figures with questionable qualifications to the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) in the April 9 election has called into question the credibility of the legislative body.
In recent days, media reports have highlighted that some newly elected DPD members are strikingly unqualified to hold public office.
One worrisome figure is Oni Suwarman, a popular comedian from Subang, West Java, who was elected to the council after winning more than 2.2 million votes in the province, more than any other candidate nationwide in the election.
Oni, however, has admitted to knowing nothing about what he will be doing after being sworn in later this year in October.
'Frankly, I don't know exactly what DPD members work on and what the office hours are,' he recently said as quoted by tempo.co.
Oni only said he wanted to prove that comedians were also capable of working in politics.
'At the very least, I can show young people that comedians are trustworthy, honest and ambitious,' said the father of two, whose trademark is dressing in the style of West Javanese folk legend Si Kabayan.
Besides Oni, two other celebrities with no political experience were elected to the council.
Emilia Contessa, a former movie star won 1.6 million votes in East Java. Emilia became famous in the 1970s for starring in the movie Tangisan Ibu Tiri (Tears of a Stepmother) and as a duet singer alongside Indonesian pop legend Broery Marantika.
Maya Rumantir, a former actress and photo model originally from Makassar, South Sulawesi, also made the cut by winning 206,496 votes in North Sulawesi.
The next batch of DPD members also includes old politicians, businessmen and legislative incumbents.
I Gede Pasek Suardika, a House of Representatives commissioner from the Democratic Party who was a loyal supporter of graft suspect Anas Urbaningrum, was elected to represent Bali with 132,887 votes.
Current DPD chairman Irman Gusman and deputy chairwoman Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Hemas were both re-elected.
Jeffrie Geovanie, a businessman, was also elected to the council, representing West Sumatra alongside Irman.
Other notable figures joining the DPD's ranks include aging House legislator Ahmad Muqowam from the United Development Party (PPP), politician AM Fatwa, former journalist and Golkar politician Bambang Sadono, Twitter celebrity Fahira Idris, businessman Oesman Sapta and former Marine Corps commandant Lt. Gen. Nono Sampono.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Qodari, a political analyst from IndoBarometer, said that the election of both celebrities and aged politicians to the council should be seen as the outcome of the democratic process.
'If you look at the conditions for those who can apply to run for the DPD, they are largely administrative and practically anyone who meets the conditions can join the race,' Qodari said when contacted Wednesday.
Qodari said that politicians of advanced age would, however, lend more credibility to the DPD.
'Senior politicians are usually just looking for a job, or maybe they couldn't secure a position in their own political parties. But they make up for it with their networks and individual backgrounds,' he said.
However, Qodari also argued that the DPD was costly and irrelevant, given that it had much less authority than the House, by far the stronger of the country's two legislative chambers.
'The future of the DPD could go in two directions: Either it will obtain more rights, or it should just be disbanded,' Qodari said.
The government has earmarked Rp 739.02 billion (US$62.43 million) for the DPD's 2014 operational costs. (tjs)