Mixed reaction to Indonesia's celebrity candidates

Actress-model Nia Ramadhani is a star attraction at the rallies.

Political parties are trying to gain as many votes as possible during the open campaign period ahead of the April 9 legislative election, including fielding celebrities to secure a 3.5 per cent electoral threshold at the House of Representatives.

In a move seen as upping the ante, a number of political parties are fielding sexy models, not just simple celebrities, as legislative candidates. Their candidacy has been met with mixed reactions from the public, ranging from approval to strong opposition.

Destiara Talita, 26, a former adult magazine model, is running for a legislative seat for the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI), vying against other candidates in Electoral District West Java VIII, which comprises Cirebon and Indramayu regencies as well as Cirebon city.

In addition to Destiara, who studies law at Indonusa Esa Unggul University, the PKPI has also nominated dangdut singer Camel Petir.

Destiara is not the only legislative candidate with a controversial career running for election. Angel Lelga, a B-movie actress and swimsuit model, has recently also been in the spotlight for her candidacy with the Islamic-based United Development Party (PPP).

PPP chairman Suryadharma Ali said Angel wanted to join the party because she wanted to complete her understanding of Islam and associate with Muslim communities.

However, she faced public criticism after she gave stuttered responses to questions posed by a talkshow host on a private TV station.

Celebrities seeking election draw various responses from the public, from welcoming such lawmakers with racy backgrounds to outright rejection.

Fisella Mutiara, who comes from a corporate legal background, said as long as long as the candidate did not rely solely on a sexy image to win the seat, she would not question her candidacy.

Meanwhile, electrician Temor said even though he could accept a celebrity legislative candidate, he would not vote for those who used to be sexy models.

Former actress and lawmaker from the Democratic Party, Venna Melinda, said it was normal for people to question celebrities' political campaigns. However, for her, the most important things were good intentions and a willingness to improve their knowledge if they were elected.

Responding to the recent development, the General Elections Commission (KPU) said it could not respond as its remit only concerned administration.