When 575 lawmakers were sworn in to represent the people at the House of Representatives (DPR) on Tuesday, one of them clearly stood out for representing a controversial yet commonly accepted aspect of Indonesian life: polygamy.
Achmad Fadil Muzakki Syah, also known as Lora Fadil, is a politician from the National Democratic (Nasdem) party representing East Java at the DPR. On Tuesday, before he was sworn in as a member of parliament, he was photographed outside the DPR building with his three wives: Siti Aminah, Yeni Kurnia, and Novita Kusumaningrum.
Lora’s popularity skyrocketed after that photo went viral, and especially so after another photo showing him dozing off during a recent plenary session made the rounds. While his having three wives may not have anything to do with him sleeping on the job, it was inevitable that many made that connection, jokingly or otherwise.
Speaking to the media regarding his newfound fame, Lora explained that he has been married to his first wife — with whom he has three children — for 22 years. He then married his second wife in 2007 and then his third wife in 2011, with whom he has two children each. The 40-year-old lawmaker said he treats his wives equally well and that none of them have any problems with their marital arrangement.
“My [marriages] to my three wives are legal in accordance to religious and state laws. We got married at the Religious Affairs Office (KUA). Our unity and harmony was apparent [at the inauguration] so everything came naturally,” Lora Fadil told Kumparan yesterday.
Lora said he wanted to promote polygamy through the viral photo and to dispel assumptions that polygamous marriages lead to jealousy. Lora even claimed that he and his three wives regularly sleep together in one bed, including in the hotel they were staying at for the inauguration.
“Since the beginning, I wanted to be an example that polygamy can be good and harmonious. If that’s possible, why do we have to hide? There’s no need for nikah siri (marriage that follows religious norms but is not recognized by the state) or having affairs. We’re proof that we can just get married,” he said.
Regarding the photo of him sleeping during the plenary session, Lora said he barely had any sleep the night before and regretted that it was caught on camera. He also said he only “closed his eyes for a while” during the closing prayer.
Lora was previously elected as a member of the DPR for the 2009-2014 legislative session, during which time he only had two wives.
As harmonious as they may be, according to DPR Secretary General Indra Iskandar, it’s likely that only Lora’s first wife will be entitled to receive financial allowances from the state in accordance to the law.
The law only allows for spousal incentives to be given to one person because, officially, polygamy is not explicitly recognized in Indonesia’s marriage laws. However, a legal loophole exists in that religious courts may give concessions based on religious norms, which have allowed for polygamous marriages and underage marriages to be sanctioned by the state.
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