Pious politicians and greedy grafters


Would have loved to be the fly on the wall.

A hotel room, stacks of banknotes, a cheating polygamous aide to a prominent pious politician, a beautiful naked young woman, lots of animal beef in slaughterhouses, two well-known business men disappearing in the wings after delivery and a greedy Godfather himself eagerly waiting in his residential home for the thank-you-money.

Scenes of vice and crime.

They are not from a Tarantino film or The Sopranos though. It’s not an image of the wheeling and dealing of Camorra in Naples, Italy, either. No, it’s a symbol of the crumbling morals of the religious inspired part of Jakarta’s political elite.

The overwhelming irony is it involves the leadership of a religion based political party representing conservative family values and a very conservative moral agenda. Politicians who, in their majestic arrogance, think they hold the moral high-ground.

The PKS boasts political accomplishments like distributing copies of the Holy Book for free , subsidized travels to Mecca and ample import of Halal beef. Each of these is a remarkable way of spending taxpayers’ money in a secular state in my pagan view. And to my pagan nose the bad odour of corruption attached to them is too strong to stand. Moreover to my pagan mind it’s impossible to reconcile PKS’ s claim that it’s the solid guardian of clean politics and traditional norms of  behaviour on the one hand and an allegedly corrupt Party president, an alleged ministerial accomplice on the Ministry of Agriculture and his polygamous aide allegedly consuming  extra marital sexual rewards which  went with the beef-deal on the other.

So here’s a riddle.

What’s the difference between Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq and Tony Soprano?


Tony Soprano is a fictitious character.

I hope the Indonesian electorate will remember on election day.

9 thoughts on “Pious politicians and greedy grafters”

  1. Hi Colson,
    I like the way you wrote about this new corruption scandal that involved the President/Chairman of PKS.
    Now it become more clear that PKS is a polygamous party with its new boss has two wives including a Hungarian, and several others.
    In his first speech as chairman, Anis Matta said among others that he believe his predecessor is innocent and the corruption allegation against him is part of a grand scenario to weaken PKS in connection with the general election next year.
    There were rumors saying that this case and the arrest of celebrities are efforts to cover up Jakarta Post news report about discrepancy in the tax reports filed by President SBY and his two sons.

  2. @ Harry: Perhaps Anis Matta was referring to this great “assumption of innocence”. And of course he would be right that we should not call his predecessor a criminal before he has been convicted. Yet…

    On the other hand SBY and his Democratic Party have dramatically failed their supporters also. The president wasn’t the knight on the white horse and didn’t fulfil his promise to slay the corruption dragon. On the contrary. In the end the DP has morally crumbled to the same extent as PKS is crumbling now.

    But fact is the fight against corruption is on. Every would-be grafter knows the risk of being caught is considerable nowadays and is still growing. That’s the good news.

  3. What I dont get is the president of PKS who was involved in the scandal, why do all members of PKS have to repent? surely, if you dont do any corruption you dont have to repent for it. I saw this article about the conspiracy against PKS floating around. Seriously, if I were advising PKS I would be against such strategy as it will only back fire. The fact is they are against pornography AND their member was caught perusing porn during a parliament session. Just as the fact that they are against some of import goods, their people are intangled in that web.

    It was rather odd that KPK arrested LHI right away while others (members of PD, Miranda Gultom, etc)took ages to be arrested.

    I do condemn how media prosecuted that girl who was arrested at Le Meridien by printed her face and name.

  4. @ triesti: You’re right about one rotten apple not being a sufficient reason to withdraw all of the harvest from the market. But the president isn’t just another ( allegedly) rotten apple. He is ( was) the party’s figurehead.It is telling the PKS, which preaches a ‘we are holier than others gospel’, choose as it’s leader a man who behaves worse than others. And actually there were other wormy apples in the basket as well.

    What the yellow press (media)did to the girl (publishing her name, private pictures, house, family) is despicable and loathsome indeed. I pity the poor girl. The media should be condemned and disciplined for breaching all professional codes of ethics. It reflects the same hunger to feel and publicly express one’s own moral superiority, vocal members of PKS appear to be suffering from.

  5. Nothing ever changes in Indonesia. You would need the Golden Gate Bridge to span the gap between, on one shore, the religious rhetoric, hype and piety of people, and on the other, the rampant corruption in the country. If an alien from another planet were to visit Indonesia he would be excused for thinking that Islam does not really exist in Indonesia.

  6. @ Mauricio: Contrary to what many believers use to claim, practising religion doesn’t correlate with virtue. I won’t blame them for failing the benchmarks they set for themselves. I do take offence though because of occasional claims to the moral high-ground. Hypocrisy is their middle name.

  7. Amen, brotha’ They don’t need the West or Uncle Sam to discredit their religion. They are doing a swell job of it themselves.

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