New Indonesia lawmakers vow to keep hands clean

New Indonesia lawmakers vow to keep hands clean

INDONESIA - Fifty-year-old Siti Marhamah, looking half her age in a yellow woven dress and moss-green veil, greeted friends and politicians with her most dazzling smile at the inauguration ceremony for new lawmakers at the House of Representatives/People's Consultative Assembly (MPR/DPR) complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday.

As Siti's husband, Golkar Party legislator Mujib Rohmat, was sworn in alongside 554 other lawmakers in the complex's main plenary hall, Siti and the family members of other Golkar lawmakers gathered in another building to mingle and chat about their experiences supporting their spouses' political ambitions.

Behind her smiles, however, Siti confessed that she and her two daughters were worried about Mujib's upcoming legislative duty following the recent well-publicized cases of House members' involvement or alleged involvement in dirty dealings.

"My children and I have repeatedly urged him [Mujib] not to fall into the same trap. To minimise risk, I think it's better if my husband serves as a regular [House] member instead of acting as a [House] commission leader," Siti told The Jakarta Post.

Wife of Gerindra lawmaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, Euis Handayani, voiced a similar concern.

"I've lost count of how many times I've told my husband not to get involved in anything illicit, especially corruption, when serving as a lawmaker. He must remember that he is now working for the people of Indonesia," Euis said.

On Wednesday, the Senayan legislative complex was a hive of activity, with thousands of journalists and family members gathering to witness the inauguration of 555 out of 560 new lawmakers and 130 out of 132 members of the Regional Representative Council (DPD). The legislators were elected or reelected in the April 9 vote.

Five lawmaker-elects - Jero Wacik of the Democratic Party, Iqbal Wibisono of Golkar and Idham Samawi, Jimmy Demianus Ijie and Herdian Koosnadi of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), as well as two DPD member-elects, Chaidir Djafar and Zulkarnain Karim, have had their inaugurations suspended because of alleged involvement in graft cases.

Members will receive a monthly salary of around Rp 50 million (S$5 billion) plus allowances during their five-year term in office.

House secretary-general Winantuningtyastiti said that lawmakers would also receive up to Rp 150 million as a down payment to buy a new car.

Despite such high incomes, 74 lawmakers have been implicated in graft cases since 2007, according to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

With the House now dominated by new members like Mujib and Sufmi, many are optimistic that the legislature will deliver a more efficient performance and rid itself of the corruption that has dogged it until now.

The Democratic Party's Mat Nasir, another House newbie, acknowledged the public's high expectations of him and his fellow lawmakers.

"I was given a very clear message by my parents and my wife prior to today's inauguration: don't get yourself arrested by the KPK. This motivates me to avoid corruption and other misconduct," Nasir said.

Some family members, like 21-year-old Muhammad Furqan, travelled great distances to show their support during Wednesday's inauguration ceremony.

"I, my mother and my three siblings flew from Banda Aceh and Medan, North Sumatra, to show our support for my father. We want him to focus on his job in politics while we take care of the family firms," said Furqan, the youngest child of Golkar lawmaker Firmandez.

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