Indonesian democracy, sinking to new infotainment lows or the popular will in action.
Actress and model Julia Perez alias "Jupe" has been suggested as a possible candidate for the position of Deputy Regent of Pacitan, a remote fishing town on the south coast of East Java, supported, or not, by a coalition of mostly small parties including Partai Hanura, Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN), Gerindra, Partai Bulan Bintang (PBB), and Partai Patriot.
After the initial news reports of her possible candidacy some senior party figures from PAN and others attempted to distance themselves from support for her, however the leader of Jupe's main backer, Partai Hanura, retired general Wiranto, says:
If the people want her, it's up to them.
One person in Pacitan who is giving Jupe the thumbs down however, the leader of a fishermens' association (Paguyuban Nelayan Tradisional Tamperan Pacitan), says Perez has no experience handling bureaucracy and her vulgar appearances on television, like in a condom advertisement, are inappropriate for such a religious town as Pacitan. tvone
Meanwhile Jupe herself admits that she has never been to Pacitan, the home town of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), but plans to pay a visit shortly. And of politics:
I’m learning politics from television and newspapers
I had to laugh at the condescending attitude of the establishment towards Julia Perez's political ambitions, like that from J. Kristiadi, a political analyst from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who said the decision to support Julia’s candidacy revealed that political parties could not field capable figures.
Heavens to Murgatroyd! It's taken Jupe to bring this home to this presumably knowledgeable and highly educated gent?
Almost every month, if not more frequently, we have seen reports of parliamentarians absent in droves from legislative proceedings, swanning off on grafty overseas trips and generally conducting themselves in a manner which might be the envy of Bonek football fans.
I just watched Julia Perez's latest movie this week, Te Rekam, and I can't say I was overwhelmed by her thespian skills, but at least when she mouths lines on screen, we know she's acting. We know she doesn't really mean it. When we watch many of Indonesia's leading politicians on tv expressing their dedication to the nation's welfare, we know they are only mouthing lines too...but they expect us to believe them!
So what's the difference?
Well, Jupe hasn't made a fortune out of the public purse, but by her own efforts. And she's also a lot nicer to view than almost any politician in Indonesia!
Jaleswari Pramodawardhani, an analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI):
Why do political parties choose actresses like Jupe to be a political leader when there are many other women with the necessary knowledge and qualifications?
Well, maybe it's because the parties concerned know that most voters despise politickos, but they like beautiful actresses, who also have the virtue that they don't line their pockets at the citizens' expense!
Some senior figures from PAN even threatened to sanction its members in Pacitan if they continue to press for Julia’s candidacy.
Sanctions! ? ! So why is this, we ask. Maybe because she is an attractive woman not ashamed of her body, and this upsets the uptight Islamist element which dominates PAN? If she shrouded herself in grim burkas and long, sack-like black robes, would she then find a place in their hearts? I thought PAN was once seen as a reformist party.
Fair criticism that she's never been to Pacitan, but how many UK MPs live in their constituencies till they're elected? And is not carpet-bagging an American term of abuse that is still brandished often against candidates for Congress? She is hardly unique in that respect.
And compared to all those 'snouts in the trough' hacks currently 'representing' the electorate here, nationally, provincially and locally, Jupe might just be a breath of fresh air.
At least she won't sink to the levels of the Mayor of Tangerang, whose administration has dragged anti-women policies to a nadir of stupidity with their persecutiion of females who dare venture out on the streets alone at night with a dab of lipstick on their faces, nor yet to that of the primitive clowns in Aceh who pay some hooded bigot to whip kids for cuddling and working men who play cards for a few bucks.