Last Wednesday, Mayor Ahyar Abduh of Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, appointed several new officials to the city’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP). Then, in what came as a surprise to both the people at the appointment ceremony as well as the general public after the photo above went viral, he lined up a few Satpol PP officers and kicked them square in their chests.
If may look like a scene from a kung fu movie (in which Ahyar turned out to be the deceptively powerful final boss), but it seems that those moves are very real, as Mayor Ahyar is known for being an expert in the martial arts.
A video taken last year also resurfaced recently showing that Ahyar does indeed get a kick out of kicking Satpol PP officers. Back then, also at a public event, he lined up officers and kicked them one by one, while someone off frame can be heard shouting, “lock!” to the officers, telling them to tighten up their core before literally getting the boot to their chests.
Ahyar’s martial arts showcase inevitably drew criticism online, with many commenting that the act is 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 showed it with his work and assertiveness. Not by beating up people. If only the Satpol PP officers could give some back,” wrote one commenter on the video.
Answering the critics, Mataram Satpol PP Chief Bayu Pancapati said that for Ahyar, who is trained in the Indonesian martial art silat and boxing, kicking his subordinates is normal.
“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],” he said, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.
Bayu added that the negative criticism launched at the mayor because of the photo and video is just part of a black campaign against the latter’s gubernatorial election hopes this year.
Ahyar himself has not released a statement answering the criticisms.
Muhammad Kasim, a local journalist, told Kompas that Ahyar has showcased his martial arts abilities in public a couple of times in the past, such as in 2015 when he wowed an audience after a dagger failed to pierce his chest.
“It’s not appropriate for a regional official, especially in public and in this current political climate,” Kasim said.
Ahyar is currently serving his second five-year period as Mataram mayor having been reelected in 2016. He is currently in the running for the 2018 West Nusa Tenggara gubernatorial election and will have to vacate his mayor post if he wins.