Yahya Zaini (a senior Indonesian politician and the parliamentary secretary of Golkar, the biggest political party in Indonesia and the largest member of the coalition Government of the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) has resigned from his position after he was featured with an Indonesian “Dangdut” singer, Maria Eva, 29, on a steamy sex video that was widely circulated over the internet. The video shows Mr. Zaini (the head of Golkar’s religious affairs committee, which has responsibility for moral issues) and dangdut singer naked in a hotel room. Ms. Eva is seen lying on a bed partially covered with sheets as she laughs and talks to the politician, who was standing naked next to her. The scandal erupted last week when the less than a minute long video was sent to various handphones and e-mail addresses.
Mr. Zaini, who was in Australia for a parliamentary study tour was forced to fly back at the weekend as news of the tape spread.
The video has grabbed headlines over the last few days in Indonesia. The country is generally conservative on matters of sex and not used to the sort of sex scandals that have affected politicians in other countries. The Golkar Party chief, and Indonesia’s Vice-President, Jusuf Kalla, approved immediately, when Mr. Yahya Zaini submitted his resignation from the party. Indonesians are paying particular attention to this scandal because Islamic leaders and political parties have recently been campaigning strongly for tougher morality laws, including outlawing pornography and public display of affection.
The singer, Maria Eva, aka Maria Ireva, has admitted making the film but denied distributing it. She said, “Actually it is an old story. I know the recording of the indecent scene was two years ago.” During a tearful press conference, Ms. Eva said she had loved Mr. Zaini, but their affair ended two years ago. She said she had been pregnant and was pressured to have an abortion by him and his wife. Ms. Eva also said that Mr Zaini had financed her first album. “He asked me to marry him, but I declined the offer as I don’t want to be his second wife,” said Ms. Eva to The Jakarta Post. It is understood the video was shot when the pair were campaigning for Golkar.
Ms. Eva has been active in the Golkar Party for a long time. She is said to belong to the youth wing of Golkar and has made herself useful at a number of Golkar events. Ms Eva’s lawyer, Ruhut Sitompul, said Golkar party figures had sent her an open airline ticket and told her to leave for Singapore for her safety, but he advised her to stay in Jakarta so they could work out how to deal with the situation. The Jakarta Post reported that a senior Golkar official has denied suggestions that the plane ticket had been issued through an official party decision. “I attended no meeting that approved of such a decision for her exile.
Maybe one of our members sent the ticket without our notification,” said Mr Tadjuddin Nursaid, a member of Golkar’s central board. Meanwhile, members of Ms. Eva’s family said they were shocked by the video and were facing difficult times since the pictures surfaced. Ms. Eva’s mother Sri Sundari, who lives in Sidoarjo, East Java, was reported to be acutely depressed after learning about the scandal.
“Mother can’t receive any guests now. She has locked herself in her room and has suffered from severe depression after what happened to Maria Eva,” Edy Muhaeni, a brother of the singer, told The Jakarta Post in Sidoarjo. Edy said the family was depressed about the “ugly” way the media had portrayed Maria Eva, who he said was a pious and simple woman. He said, “This is unfair, why was Maria the only subject of the media coverage as if she is responsible for breaking up the family of Yahya Zaini. We believe that this scandal is politically-motivated.”
Regarding on Ms. Eva claimed that she had an abortion after discovering she was pregnant through an affair with married lawmaker Yahya Zaini, the Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said, “We’re summoning her for questioning Friday.” However, Police did not say when they would summon Yahya Zaini, The Jakarta Post reported. MP Yahya Zaini, a member of the country’s biggest party and also the former head of its religious affairs department, gave up his seat after meeting party leaders late on Thursday.
“After he became news although there has been no legal process, he gallantly resigned. We are concerned on how a private matter could enter the public realm,” Andi Matalatta, a senior member of Zaini’s Golkar party, told Elshinta radio.
Zaini became headline news after a shaky, one-minute video that appears to show him frolicking naked with Indonesian pop singer Maria Eva made it onto the Internet. Eva, whose celebrity status has soared since the video became public, has admitted to taking the footage with her mobile phone, but denies distributing it on the Web. She also said she had lost her mobile phone. Zaini could not be reached for comment and has not made any public remarks since the clip spread like wildfire in Indonesia.
The video is one of several incidents that has shocked mainly conservative Indonesia recently, where sex remains a taboo topic. News of a popular Islamic cleric taking a second wife has triggered a public debate in Indonesia over polygamy, while this week has also seen the start of an indecency trial against the editor of Playboy’s franchise. Indonesia has also been debating for years a draft anti-smut law, which opponents say could proscribe kissing in public and censor art and cultural activities, laying bare deep divisions within society.
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