Before we jump back into the Aceh election violence that “keeps increasing and is no longer normal,” according to the NGO Aceh Democratic Forum,
(http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/activists-declare-state-emergency-election-violence-wracked-aceh/), I’d like to return briefly to something a little lighter, but in a way indicative of the divide between Aceh and Jakarta: and that is Ipodgate.
My friend Wati is still getting a kick out of the wedding hijinx of the Supreme Court Secretary.
Apparently, so is the Indonesian press, who followed up the story of the Ipod-laced nuptials with an attempt to get the Judge to explain himself, and Wati translated it for us.
“This is so sad . . .
“Nurhadi, Secretary of the Supreme Court, ‘defends’ the gift polemics as follows:
1. The price of each iPod was less than the $44 maximum value allowed by law to be given as a gift to a public official (they would have exceeded that amount but they were bought wholesale from the US. Appropriate paperwork has yet to be filed).
2. Even though the 2,500 IPods purchased as reception gifts for guests were directly imported from the US at $42 each, totaling $105,000, they shouldn’t really be considered gifts per se, since all the guests were high-ranking officials and judges [and so presumably would consider this more like a netted bag of candied almonds than a fancy piece of electronics?]
3. And they were only $42 each so should not be totaled together, and that’s why he shouldn’t have to have an importer’s license to get them all at once, or pay duty on them
4. And anyway it was his son-in law-the businessman who bought them, not Nurhadi (who as the court employee with the highest salary grade makes about $76,500/year and “it would be impossible to pay for such an expensive wedding on his salary,” said Indonesia’s Corruption Watch officials.)
“Then Nurhadi just laughed at reporters and said ‘Let’s stop this. This is not an important issue.’
“Can you imagine what you could do for the poor of this country with what it cost to give those wedding guests an Ipod that was considered so small as to not even be a ‘gift?’
“Oh, Indonesia . . . ”
[NB: Current Supreme Court Judge Gayus, who defended Nurhadi, has made headlines in recent months for his high-profile defamation suit against celebrity illusionist Deddy Corbuzier over claims that the justice had received bribe money from dangdut singer Julia “Jupe” Perez. And in February, former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar was charged with three counts of bribery and two counts of money laundering in connection to election disputes he stands accused of fixing.]