PART 3 – more public statements made by those in high places in Indonesia. These are an endless source of amusement, wonder, embarrassment, amazement and despair. Many of their pronouncements seem to be characterised by outright denial, shifting blame to others, justifications, outright lies and misplaced piety. Here is a selection of gaffe-prone luminaries, their immortal words, and the context in which they were uttered. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Netty Prasetyani Heryawan, Head of the West Java Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Agency
Showing a strange lack of compassion for a “women’s empowerment” official, she stated that women have only themselves to blame if they fall into the clutches of human traffickers and prostitution rings. As reported in The Jakarta Globe, she said:
“They’re … leaving West Java only so that they can live out their hedonistic lifestyles.”
“For these women seeking a hedonistic life, they end up becoming victims of human trafficking.”
Marzuki Alie, House of Representatives Speaker
The poor attendance records of many House members, and their reported manipulation of the current signature-based attendance log, has resulted in calls for a fingerprint reader system. The House Secretary General, Nining Indra Saleh, announced that the cost would be about Rp 4 billion. Marzuki Alie vehemently disagreed, citing his expertise in IT:
“… my calculation is different. My background is in information technology, so I’ve processed it. It’s not correct … I don’t think the equipment should cost any more than Rp 200 million. Rp 4 billion? That’s crazy.”
A few days later, Marzukie Alie had revised his expert calculation upwards by a staggering Rp 1.2 billion, saying that the plan should cost no more than Rp 1.4 billion.
Amir Syamsuddin, Justice and Human Rights Minister
The just-inaugurated Amir refused to comment on the recent spate of killings of villagers in Sumatra, allegedly by security forces and police, defended his reluctance to talk by saying:
“I should not talk about human rights. It is something that I’m not good at …”
Inspector General Iskandar Hasan, Aceh Police Chief
After sixty four young people were arrested by Aceh police for the non-existent ‘crime’ of being ‘punks’, they were beaten, had their heads forcibly shaved, were thrown in a lake and held underwater. After their unlawful arrest, they were subjected to a 10-day ‘re-education’ program at the Aceh State Police camp.
After several foreign embassy officials questioned the illegal arrests, assaults and forcible detention, the Police Chief dismissed their concerns, saying:
“… it’s a tradition. When I was still in the police academy, we were all pushed and plunged into a lake.”
Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, Deputy Mayor, Banda Aceh
Freely admitting that she is on a moral crusade against the punk community, the Deputy Mayor justified the action taken against punks, claiming that:
“This is a new social disease affecting Banda Aceh. Their morals are wrong. Men and women gather together, and that is against Islamic Shariah.”
Eddie Widiono, former president of the State Power Company PLN
On being sentenced to 5 years for corruption involving Netway, a company for which he fraudulently approved a contract for Rp 92.7 billion, when the real cost was only Rp 46 billion, he complained:
“I feel really hurt by being said to be unprofessional,” he said. “This really hurts my track record.”
Sofyan Usman, former lawmaker from the United Development Party
During his graft trial on 29 December 2011 for allegedly receiving bribes of Rp 1 billion, he claimed that there was no problem, because he wanted to build a mosque. He indignantly asked:
“Do I, as a lawmaker who intended to help the construction of a mosque, deserve to be jailed?”
Interestingly, it was only six months earlier that a judge had sentenced Sofyan to serve a year and three months, and fined him Rp 50 million for receiving a bribe to influence the selection of a deputy senior governor of Bank Indonesia in 2004.
Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs
After a spate of episodes of religiously-motivated violence, including
attacks on Shia communities in East Java, Djoko Suyanto said his office is not responsible for resolving matters such as these, claiming that:
“It is the role of the Religious Affairs Ministry to handle violence that is related to religion.”
Because Djoko’s office would normally be concerned with criminal acts such as unlawful assaults, violence and intimidation, observers have interpreted his words to mean that the government regards assaults ‘related to religion’ as apparently not being criminal acts.
Majudien, Chairman of The Islamic Reform Movement (Garis)
The besieged GKI Yasmin church in Bogor, still being unlawfully harassed by the Bogor Mayor and resident fundamentalists in contravention of a Supreme Court order, suffered yet another attack on New Year’s Eve. The Jakarta Globe reported that a mob of enraged Muslims led by Majudien terrorized church members after becoming infuriated by a bumper sticker on one Christian’s car, which read: “We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam.” Majudien justified his group’s attack, complaining:
“What is the aim of that sticker being put there? That is a provocative action against us, the Muslims of Bogor.
An important fact (that had obviously escaped the incensed Majudien) was that the sticker was actually a souvenir distributed by the family of the late former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid during a commemoration of his death. All guests, including the chairman of the Constitutional Court, the deputy religious affairs minister and many VIPs, had received the same sticker. None had apparently complained.
Inspector General Saud Usman Nasution, National Police spokesman, and
First Brigadier Ahmad Rusdi, Police Officer and Plaintiff
Police officer Ahmad Rusdi took a teenaged boy to court in Sulawesi for allegedly stealing his Rp 30,000 pair of sandals. He and his colleague, Jhon Simson, had questioned three youths over the missing pair of sandals, after which Ahmad claimed that:
“The three then admitted it.”
However, one of the boys’ parents accused the police of forcing a confession by beating the teen. The National Police spokesman, Saud, then rushed to the police officers’ defence, denying the boys were beaten and explaining:
“There was an emotional action of pushing the boy until he fell.”
The officers were disciplined, but the boy still had to face court, where:
1) Ahmad, the plaintiff, told the court that he was uncertain about his accusation, and that it was more a matter of intuition than proof.
2) The court was told the court that the sandals found with the defendant were Eiger brand. Ahmad, the police officer said his sandals were Andos.
3) Ahmad couldn’t prove that the defendant had actually taken the sandals, which had been lying in the street some 30 meters from the policeman’s rented room.
Despite the obviously weak case, the court inexplicably ruled that the boy:
“… was proved to have engaged in theft and it was decided to return him to his parents.”
Saud, the National Police spokesman, tried to defuse anger at the the minor’s need to appear in court by blaming the parents, saying that they:
“… demanded that their offspring … be reported legally.”
Saud further claimed that police had reminded the parents that their child was still a minor and should not be taken to court – a strange statement, given that 6,273 minors were being held on criminal charges in Indonesian jails last year.
And just to show that not all weird utterances occur in Indonesia, here’s a gem from the Adhaalath Party – A Fundamentalist Islamist Opposition Party in the Maldives
Ninemsn reports that luxury hotels in more than one thousand islands of the Maldives have been forced to shut their lucrative spa services after the Islamist political party complained that they were just brothels. An Adhaalath spokesman called for an end to spas, and, wait for it:
“Their lustful music”
I think it’s time for another cup of tea and a good lie down. I look at this list of gaffes and wonder why politicians, police, religious leaders and the so-called elites hold themselves in such high esteem. It’s beyond me, it really is. I may have to go and listen to some lustful music.