07 January 2008

Republik Mimpi

It seems that the parody of Indonesian political life of present and past politicians, particularly Presidents and Vice-Presidents will soon become the stuff of parody itself. The popular television show "Republik Mimpi" or the Republic of Dreams has found itself in the position where one of the comedians has found himself in some serious legal trouble.

Jarwo Kuwat who impersonates the current Vice-President, Jusuf Kalla, is alleged to have committed a rather large fraud of some IDR 200 million. The fraud stems from the presentation of a cheque that subsequently bounced, a complaint by the person who received the cheque (Alex Cokro), and then Kuwat's failure to answer the three separate summons. The final of these was issued by the police in November 2007 which followed up two earlier summons issued in December 2006. This has in essence forced the police's hand and an arrest warrant is imminent.

Now the legal process will take over and run its course.

This is not the first time the show has been the center of a legal stoush. However, the earlier legal issues really went to the heart of the type of freedom of expression supposedly guaranteed under the Constitution. Unfortunately, at least for Jarwo Kuwat, this is a personal legal issue but one that nevertheless will impact on the show.

Political parody of the type seen in the Republic of Dreams is an important means and mechanism for developing political debate in Indonesia. Even though it is in its very essence comedy and its primary objective is to humor those that watch it, a secondary and equally important function is that it serves to educate. In amongst the humor is information on democratic rights, democratic ideals, reflections on current events and developments, to name but a few.

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