Lebak. Activists have slammed the outgoing head of Banten’s Lebak district for discrimination after he painted the province’s Baduy community as “stupid,” while stumping for his daughter prior to the weekend’s election.
The case centers on remarks made by Mulyadi Jayabaya last Tuesday at Ona Market in Rangkasbitung, the district capital, in which he called on voters not to pick a “stupid leader.”
“If you want to be stupid, vote for a Baduy. If you’re already stupid, vote for someone from Kanekes,” Mulyadi was recorded as saying in the local dialect, referring to the district’s main Baduy village.
“Baduys don’t go to school, they’re all stupid. Do you want to be led by a stupid person?” he added.
Abdul Rohman, the chairman of the district chapter of the Islamic Students Association (HMI), said over the weekend that the district head’s statement was deeply offensive and should be roundly condemned by all parties.
“To have that kind of statement come from a district head is a huge blow to the dignity of the Baduy community, which is part of his constituency,” Abdul said.
“If he doesn’t apologize, then we and representatives from the Baduy community will stage a massive rally.”
The Baduy are known for their strong adherence to ancient ways of life and for largely shunning modern technology and education. They also practice Sunda Wiwitan, a syncretic faith that predates the advent of Islam in Indonesia.
Jaro Daenah, the chief of Kanekes village, said he was deeply offended by Mulyadi’s remarks.
“A leader shouldn’t be stoking electoral tensions to the point that things become this ugly,” he said.
“A leader should keep the peace, not make uneducated statements like that.”
He added that in the wake of the speech, he had intended to lead a group of around 400 Baduy to the Lebak district legislature in protest, but dropped the plan out of concern that the demonstration could turn violent. “We had to call off our plan because we were afraid that our people’s anger could get out of hand. We nevertheless plan to seek legal redress in this case,” Daenah said.
Repeated calls to Mulyadi for comment went unanswered.
The offensive remarks were made just days before last Saturday’s election for district chief, in which Mulyadi’s daughter, Iti Oktavia Jayabaya, was running. Exit polls indicate that she went on to secure a comfortable win with around 60 percent of the vote, although the official results are not expected until next Monday.
Mulyadi’s stab at the Baduy was believed to be an attack on his daughter’s closest rival, Amir Hamzah.
Amir is the current deputy district chief under Mulyadi, but ties between the two have been strained for several months — in part because of Mulyadi’s choice to support his own daughter over his deputy in the election.
Amir’s running mate, Kasmin, is a member of the district legislature and a prominent Baduy figure.
The pair won around 36 percent of votes, according to a quick count conducted after polls closed on Saturday. The Jakarta Globe