Porn in parliament

The recent scandal of an Indonesian politician getting busted looking at porn on his computer during a parliamentary hearing has brought once again shifted public focus on the behaviour of their elected officials.

    It took only two and half minute, but it was enough for him to lose his job, seriously embarrass Indonesia's largest Islamic party, make a fool of the whole parliament and become the laughing stock of a nation.  

    Lawmaker Arifinto of the Prosperous Justice Party was caught on camera watching porn on his tablet computer during a parliament hearing.

    A photographer managed to zoom in and show to the whole country that a parliament member of a conservative party that had pushed hard for a controversial anti porn bill was watching naked women at a time when he was supposed to represent the people who had voted for him.

    The lawmaker's initial defense - that he accidentally opened a porn website - could easily be dismissed after the photographer showed how Arifinto opened at least six folders with pornographic photographs, while he was hiding his computer half under the table.

    He watched the photo's for exactly two and half minutes.

    Under the 2008 anti porn bill downloading pornographic content faces a maximum of four years in prison and $232,000 in fines. 

    Hypocrisy: The greatest luxury?

    The scandal immediately became one of the trending topics on Twitter in Indonesia.

    Many were wondering how it was possible that a famous rockstar recently was sent to prison for producing private sex films which ended up on the internet and a lawmaker watching porn inside parliament was getting off the hook.

    The fact that it was his party that had aggressively pushed for the controversial anti-porn bill and furiously campaigned against pornographic content on the Internet lead to many accusing the Prosperous Justice Party of hypocrisy.

    It was a minister of the Prosperous Justice Party who recently threatened to ban Blackberry in Indonesia if the company would not filter porn. Since then, Blackberry has put a filter on their Indonesian smart phones on anything that could fall under that definition.

    After enormous pressure, Arifinto announced during a press conference - broadcast live - that he will resign from parliament and do everything he can to improve his behaviour. He apologised to his constituency and promised to focus more on the Holy Quran.

    It’s rare in Indonesia that a public official resigns because of a scandal. The ethics committee in parliament is still investigating if he needs to be officially sanctioned. It’s unclear if he will be questioned by police for violating the anti porn bill. 

    Apathetic lawmakers

    The photographer who captured the lawmaker watching porn also photographed several others sleeping, playing with their phones or reading magazines while a fury debate was going on about the need for a new parliament building. 

    A Jakarta newspaper described the phenomenon as Indonesia's politicians suffering from "attention deficit disorder".

    Many don't even show up at all.

    Last year a heated debate was going on about the empty chairs while crucial legislation was being discussed in parliament.

    "Despite their poor performance most politicians are still living large. They receive big monthly salaries and all kind of additional allowances", one newspaper editorial charged. It’s not the first time lawmakers have become involved in a porn scandal.

    A former party member of one of the largest parties Golkar was caught in a sex video with a singer. He resigned eventually but was never sanctioned by parliament. 

    It was late president Wahid who once described Indonesia's house of representatives as a "kindergarten", referring to what he called "bad attitudes". Indonesia has only had a democratically elected parliament since 1999.

    Before that, only three parties were allowed and the outcome of the elections was very much staged. The democratic system is now in place, but with the current attitude of the country's politicians, people are seriously wondering if they are actually better off.


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