Ezra Sihite & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Celebrity lawmaker Tere, a pop singer who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2009, has resigned her post.
Tere, whose full name is Theresia Ebenna Ezeria Pardede, said she didn’t feel right missing so many meetings and legislative sessions while still remaining a lawmaker.
“I don’t want to be a hypocrite by often being absent but also signing the attendance list and receiving salary,” she told a press conference on Friday. “I don’t want to be like that.”
Tere, a member of House Commission X overseeing sports affairs, said that she had filed her official letter of resignation on May 21 to withdraw from both the Democratic Party and the House. Family problems and an unwritten thesis also contributed to her decision, she said.
“I’m aware that resigning is not popular,” Tere said. “But I’m sure this is in line with the political ethics that had been upheld by the nation’s founders.”
Political parties often seek to elect celebrities they can use as lame duck lawmakers, in order to increase their representation in the House. Most of the time, these lawmakers don’t play much of a role in legislative processes, if they attend the meetings at all, and they typically vote how their parties tell them to.
Not all celebrity lawmakers fit that description. Angelina Sondakh, a former Miss Indonesia, rose to the highest ranks of the Democratic Party, becoming its secretary general. She stepped down from that position, though, when she was named a suspect for graft.
Tere said that at first she was enthusiastic about serving in the House and expected that she could help bring about positive change. Along the way, though, she came to feel that she could not make a difference because the system in the House would not support her, she said, without giving any more details.
Personal problems also played a role in her decision, Tere said. The singer divorced her husband last year, and her mother died in April, she said.
“I deeply apologize,” Tere said. “The conditions are too difficult for me. Some psychological conditions brought me to make this decision.
“[One reason] I resigned [was] for the sake of my health and upon request from my parents to finish my thesis. In the future, I want to finish the thesis and write book. I remember my late mother said I could fight anywhere.”
The head of the Democratic Party’s faction at the House, Nurhayati Assegaf, said the party had approved Tere’s resignation and would find someone to replace her.
Political observer Ray Rangkuti said the resignation was an indicator of failure of political education.
“They consider being a lawmaker as equal to playing a role in a soap opera. Getting in and out easily, ignoring the voters,” Ray said. “Our law is also weak as it does not forbid people to resign for unimportant reasons.”
Tere released four albums between 2002 and 2008.
Additional reporting from Antara