INDONESIA: Top Golkar official quits over sex video
Religious affairs committee head Yahya Zaini will remain a party member, keep Parliament seat
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
By Devi Asmarani
Jakarta --- A senior official of the ruling Golkar party resigned from his post after being linked to a sex scandal that tarnished the image of the party.
Mr Yahya Zaini, 42, the head of the religious affairs committee in Golkar's Executive Board, had been identified as the man seen in a steamy video cavorting with a singer in a hotel room.
Golkar's deputy chairman Agung Laksono said the party has accepted Mr Yahya's resignation, which was tendered on Monday.
But he added that Mr Yahya will remain a party member and retain his seat in Parliament while a probe is being conducted.
"Yahya has asked for forgiveness and expressed regrets for what happened," Mr Agung said.
Mr Yahya, who is married, could not be reached for comment. A rising star within Golkar before the scandal surfaced, he has not appeared in public since his return to Jakarta from a parliamentary study trip to Australia last week.
The widely circulated video shows a naked Mr Yahya in bed with a little-known dangdut singer, Ms Maria Eva, who shot the video with her cellphone.
Talking to reporters on Monday, Ms Maria admitted that she shot the video but denied that she had distributed it. Mr Yahya kept the file, she said.
Wiping away her tears, she said their relationship ended two years ago. She claimed that she had been terrorised and intimidated by various people, including Mr Yahya's wife.
She said she became pregnant but decided to abort the baby. Ms Maria's lawyer, Mr Ruhut Sitompul, said that some Golkar leaders had sent her an open plane ticket and told her to leave for Singapore for her safety.
"I loved YZ and I believe he loved me too," she said, referring to Mr Yahya by his initials.
The Golkar leader is the first politician here to resign because of a sex scandal.
Extramarital affairs are common among Indonesian politicians but even during the rare occasions when they face legal claims or complaints from women involved, the issue rarely becomes the subject of public debate and is often settled privately.
The media attention this time has led to speculation that rival political forces could have played a role in blowing up the issue.
"One of my guesses is that the video leak was part of an internal rift -- the three factions in Golkar are trying to outmanoeuvre one another," said political analyst Sukardi Rinakit.
He was referring to the factions led by Mr Agung, former party boss Akbar Tandjung and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla. Mr Yahya is closely linked to Mr Akbar.
Date Posted: 12/6/2006