Jakarta politicians turning to sorcerers for help

They seek from dukuns cures for illnesses, protection from black magic and spells to destroy rivals.

Politicians in Indonesia are increasingly turning to dukuns, or sorcerers, to bail them out of their troubles. Forget conventional strategies of fighting foes in parliament.

The political elite prefer turning to the spirits and black magic to ward off potential threats and attempts to undermine them.

One legislator that The Straits Times talked to wore a white cloth around his waist with what he described as sacred black stone beads to keep the evil spirits away.

He had a diverse range of objects on his study table – incense, flowers, nails and razor blades – as protection. Also displayed prominently on the wall was the kris, a Javanese bronze dagger, to ward off evil spirits.

“I need to see the dukun once a week for spiritual advice,” said the politician from the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P).

“There are several people who are trying to do harm to me. I am afraid of black magic.”

He claimed that spirits and the dukun were holding sway over several parliamentarians these days because of pervasive fear that their political lifeline would be cut by scandals or power struggles within their parties.

Most of the legislators who were interviewed, and who declined to be named, said they sought spiritual healers merely for protection.

None said they visited the dukun to engage in black magic.

Said one Golkar legislator: “There are people who turn to evil spirits to do their bidding for them, but not I.

“I only see the dukun to make sure that nothing bad happens to me or my family.”

The dukuns have interesting stories to tell.

Ms Naniek Sri Sumarni, a spiritual healer in Yogyakarta, said she received a request recently from a prominent Jakarta politician to perform black magic on several of his parliamentary foes.

“He wanted me to make them very sick with the hope that they would die,” she claimed. “But I refused.”

Ms Naniek, known here as Mbak Naniek, said there was a discernible increase in the number of politicians visiting her.

This week alone, she had 10 of them visiting her – double the number compared to the same period last year.

She keeps three mobile phones handy to cope with rising demand.

The 38-year-old, who is secretary-general of the Indonesian Association of Paranormals, makes between 500,000 rupiah (S$88) and 2 million rupiah per consultation, depending on what she has been asked to do.

Dukun Suryo Sumirat from Solo revealed that one PDI-P legislator even gave him a car because he had healed him of sickness: “He was so happy and gave me the car as a gift.”

The belief in the spiritual world goes down to the grassroots, where the dukun is treated like a king.

The average Javanese, however poor, would rather pay for the spiritual adviser to treat his sick child than see a doctor for free.

But politicians, with their power and money, have greater access.

Former president Suharto, at the height of his power, reportedly had a team of 10 dukuns from Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra to advise him.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri is also said to consult a spiritual healer in Bali and Klaten.

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