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‘Crazy Rich Public Servants’: Indonesians use Twitter to out public officials who live ‘lavish lifestyles beyond their means’

A scandal looms over numerous Indonesian public servants after many of its citizens exposed some tax officials who are suspiciously wealthy, and for seemingly displaying their lavish lifestyle on social media.

For many weeks now, Indonesian citizens have taken to Twitter to name and shame some of the country’s public servants, who have been dubbed “filthy rich officials” by the local media, for displaying their flamboyant lifestyle and wealth that appear to be above the means of their modest pay.

In a slew of tweets posted by Twitter user @PartaiSocmed, multiple officials’ spouses and children were seen flaunting their luxurious cars, designer bags, and private jets, among others.

One of the public officials targeted by the mass is Sudarman Harja Saputra, the head of the East Jakarta Administrative City Land Office, as photos of his wife Vidya Piscarista’s ostentatious lifestyle surfaced on the internet.

Among Piscarista’s photos, which were posted on her now-deleted Instagram account, include posing with designer handbags, sitting in private jets, and traveling to many places for the holidays, including France, Italy, Slovakia, and Austria.

This has caught the attention of the Indonesian government agency Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which ordered an investigation on the couple and summoned them to clarify their assets. It was, later on, revealed that Sudarman has been removed from his post.

Another public official who has been under fire was SF Hariyanto, the regional secretary of Riau Province. Much like Sudarman’s case, Hariyanto’s wife was also flexing her designer bags, shoes, and clothing, and spending the holidays in Europe.

Amidst this, Hariyanto held a press conference to clarify the luxurious items her wife possessed where he claimed that all of them were just counterfeit.

“I have cross-checked the allegations. For example, the handbags were said to cost hundreds of millions of rupiah. That’s not true. These are fake,” he said.

He also went on to show the alleged counterfeit goods to the media and a photo of his wife wearing the shoes and bag to prove that they weren’t original.

He then added that his wife and her friends have also split the bill during their European holidays and only use public transportation while overseas.

Of course, eagle-eyed netizens have pointed out that the supposed knock-off items shown by Hariyanto weren’t the same products spotted in his wife’s picture.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Regional Secretary, [but] the [fake] Gucci shoes are different from the ones flexed by your wife,” @PartaiSocmed wrote on Twitter. “Those are Gucci Pearl Embellished Platform Sneakers. Maybe [you’re] in a rush to buy ‘evidence’ for the press conference?”

Hariyanto’s daughter was also not safe from the public’s criticism as photos of her wearing luxurious fashion items, such as a tiara, went viral.

Ministry of State Secretariat official Esha Rahmansah Abrar was also put in the spotlight after Indonesian citizens spotted Esha’s wife’s image of her buying a new car along with a receipt. She even had a post that seemingly showed Esha had given her gold bars.

Understandably, Esha and her wife’s lavish lifestyle had raised suspicions as Esha is still only “a low-ranking official.”

Since then, Esha had been suspended from his post.

The reason why many public officials are being exposed and scrutinized stemmed from an aggravated assault that took place in late February 2023. The said incident involved a son of a public servant who punched and kicked another boy for allegedly mistreating the former’s girlfriend.

As the video of the assault went viral, the public wasn’t only mad at the act, but the expensive vehicles he had driven—which included a Harley Davidson motorcycle and a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon—also sparked anger.

This then raised suspicions about his public servant father’s, Rafael Alun Trisambodo, wealth. Trisambodo was also reportedly removed from his position in the tax office.

His case only amplified internet sleuths to expose more public servants in Indonesia who are suspiciously wealthy.

Following the backlash from the public, President Joko Widodo released a statement in which he admitted that he understood the public disappointment against his officials’ suspiciously lavish lifestyles.

“[The people] believe the public service has been poor, and the government officials are behaving arrogantly, flexing their wealth, and are hedonistic,” Widodo said in a speech at the presidential palace.

He then ordered all ministers and heads of institutions to “discipline their subordinates” to avoid acting and displaying hedonistic behavior on social media.

“Don’t show off your power. Don’t show off your wealth, especially by posting on Instagram and other social media platforms. For members of the bureaucracy, this is really inappropriate,” he added.


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