Chairul Fikrie & Bayu Marhaenjati
Actor and TV presenter Raffi Ahmad and several other celebrities, including artist-turned-Jakarta councillor Wanda Hamidah, were arrested early on Sunday for possession of marijuana and ecstasy pills, potentially adding to list of popular figures facing legal troubles over drug use.
Antidrug activists were quick to raise concerns that the arrests highlighted what they claimed was the rampant use of drugs among celebrities, undermining the country’s fight against the drugs due to the social power of the celebrities.
Benny Mamoto, deputy chief of the National Narcotic Agency (BNN), confirmed that his detectives had arrested 17 people at Raffi’s house in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta, on Sunday morning.
“We had been following and investigating them for three months. So we have known the activities of a group of celebrities that were involved in a drug party. Early Sunday at around five [a.m.], we raided the house of R.A. [Raffi],” he said on Sunday.
“Beside Raffi, we also arrested actress Zaskia Sungkar, actor Irwansyah and politician Wanda Hamidah,” Benny said.
Wanda is a Jakarta Legislative Council member from the National Mandate Party (PAN), and Raffi, 25, has been approached by the party to stand as a candidate for the party in next year’s elections.
Benny said that police found marijuana and a drink mixed with ecstasy pills.
“We are still interrogating them, and we will decide on their status later,” he said of those arrested.
Raffi’s maid, who did not want to mention his name, confirmed that 15 police officers came to her employer’s house and took away everybody who was in the house.
Meanwhile Amy Qonita, Raffi’s mother, appeared shocked when informed that her son was involved in drugs and was being detained by the BNN.
She rejected the allegation of drug use, saying that her son could not use illegal narcotics.
“I was informed by my maid this morning. I really did not expect this as I am very sure that my son would not do something like this,” Amy said. “I think this is a set up.”
Subsequent urine tests of the 17 arrested people revealed only five positive results for using drugs. It was not immediately clear whether Raffi was one of them.
Police said that they would continue to check hair and blood samples of the arrested to determine whether they used drugs.
Raffi is a presenter of the popular music television show “Dahsyat,” broadcast on national network RCTI.
Many celebrities in Indonesia — and abroad — have previously faced legal problems over drug use.
Senior Indonesian rocker Ahmad Albar was convicted of drug use and was sent to jail for several years after his arrest in 2007. Composer Fariz RM also was jailed for consuming drugs after being caught with marijuana the same year. Young actress Sheila Marcia was arrested by the police during a drug party in 2008.
Activists and lawmakers claim the arrests represented only a small proportion of the drug use among celebrities.
“It’s time for the country to seriously root out drug users among celebrities. It’s very dangerous if we just turn a blind eye to this because many people will see that it’s cool to use drugs because their idols use it,” said Taufik Kiemas, speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly.
He said that as drug use among students and youths increases, all segments of society must support antidrug campaigns in schools and strict enforcement of drug laws and harsh penalties, especially against those who smuggle drugs into the country.