An Indonesian politician drew backlash on local social media after an image of him kicking a group of police officers in the chest during their appointment ceremony went viral.
Mataram Mayor Ahyar Abduh of West Nusa Tenggara appointed a new batch of members to the city’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), during a ceremony held Wednesday, when he lined them up and gave each of them a kick in the chest, Kompas reported via Coconuts Jakarta.
The apparent display of abuse of political power shocked not only the people in attendance, but also those who saw the image online.
This isn’t the first time Mayor Ahyar, a known martial arts practitioner, has done such a move. A video footage taken from another public event last year shows the politician lining up officers and kicking them one by one for pleasure.
Netizens have dubbed Ahyar’s one-sided martial arts exhibition as an act “unbecoming of a high ranking politician.”
“Good thing his pants didn’t rip. [He showed] the mentality of thugs. If he wanted to show mental and physical strength, he should’ve shown it with his work and assertiveness. Not by beating up people. If only the Satpol PP officers could give some back,” one commenter wrote.
Mataram Satpol PP Chief Bayu Pancapati defended the mayor for his blatant power trip by saying it is normal to kick subordinates.
“Not only my subordinates but even I was tested by the mayor. It’s normal for him to do that, to test our strengths. Even I have often had my physique and self-defense skills tested by the mayor. It’s not because the mayor is angry, it’s normal, the Satpol PP officers are actually happy [they’re being kicked],” Pancapati told Kompas in an interview.
The police chief then dismissed criticisms against the 57-year-old mayor as a black propaganda campaign to discredit him for his upcoming election for the office of the governor this year.
“It’s not appropriate for a regional official, especially in public and in this current political climate,” said local journalist Muhammad Kasim, noting that Ahyar has been showing off his martial arts abilities for many years now.
Ahyar, who is in his second five-year period as Mataram mayor, has yet to comment on the controversy.