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Jakarta Post

'Indonesia is a forgiving nation': Netizens baffled by election of scandal-ridden politicians

  • Kharishar Kahfi
    Kharishar Kahfi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, October 3, 2019   /   09:09 am
'Indonesia is a forgiving nation': Netizens baffled by election of scandal-ridden politicians Freshly inaugurated lawmakers attend a plenary session at the House of Representatives in Central Jakarta on Oct. 1. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The House of Representatives just got its first female speaker on Tuesday with the election of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Puan Maharani, the granddaughter of first president Sukarno.

Indonesian Twitter, however, has been fixated on other things, like the fact that Golkar Party politician Yahya Zaini, the first Indonesian politician to be embroiled in a sex video scandal, has apparently returned to the House.

Yahya, who made headlines after a video of him cavorting naked with dangdut singer Maria Eva was circulating on the web more than 13 years ago, ran for office in the East Java electoral district and garnered enough votes to secure a seat.

His return has baffled some Twitter users. The scandal at first appeared so devastating for him that it was believed it would end his political career, with the public having called for his resignation not only from the House but also from his own party.

He did resign from the House, but his career is in fact far from over.

When he made his return to the legislative seat on Tuesday, the Twitterverse welcomed him with warm greetings, conveying hopes that he would focus on doing his job on his return without making any headlines.

“My message as a netizen, do your job well, Pak. Don’t record more videos!” wrote Twitter user @mazzini_giusepe.

Another Twitter user, @kesumawahni, said Yahya’s return to the House was “a concrete example that Indonesia is a forgiving nation”.

Netizens were also surprised by the appearance of La Nyalla Mahmud Mattalitti, former chairman of the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI), as one of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) members. He was elected as the council’s chairman.

While serving as the PSSI chairman, he was named a suspect in 2016 in a graft case pertaining to a grant worth about Rp 5.3 billion (US$373,655) for the East Java chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

He was accused of committing the crime by misusing his authority as the head of the East Java branch of Kadin in using the grant money to buy Bank Jatim shares between 2011 and 2014. He later sold the shares at a higher price. Prosecutors accused him of illegally enriching himself with Rp 1.1 billion.

The corruption court, however, acquitted him of all charges.

A Twitter user, @nopaluwu, wrote he almost could not believe upon hearing the news that La Nyalla was elected as DPD chairman. “Is it serious that La Nyalla was elected as DPD chairman? The [same] La Nyalla who was once arrested by the KPK? Seriously?”

Another Twitter user, @janganghibah, also criticized his election: “My country is great, its people are funny. La Nyalla [was accused of] committing corruption, but he was declared free by the court and now became DPD chairman. His first breakthrough: asking for allowances for working trips abroad to be paid in lump sum. This country is joking with its people.” 

While conveying his vision and mission as DPD chairman, La Nyalla said: "Allowances for members going on a working trip abroad should be paid in lump sum rather than added cost. The council members should also receive the same facility House lawmakers received during those trips.”