Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – A Jakarta Legislative Council member said on Wednesday she had filed a Rp 1 trillion ($70.8 million) lawsuit against the Indonesian Solidarity Party, or PSI after her membership was terminated for allegedly inflating official expenses.
The termination means that Viani Limardi will soon lose her seat at the council. The woman dismissed the accusation as "character assassination and slander".
"This has damaged my career and the reputation of my family and my Jakarta constituents. The accusation of me inflating my official expenses is a smear that won't go unchallenged," Viani said.
She said the lawsuit was filed at the Central Jakarta District Court, adding that she is "very serious" with the legal move.
"There are attempts to destroy my political career so I cannot stay put," she said.
The PSI has reportedly prepared a replacement for Viani at the city council. Cornelis Hotman, who was ranked just under Viani in terms of votes during the 2019 election, is slated to fill the soon-to-be-vacated seat.
The party said they are ready to face Viani in court.
"We have had enough evidence we used as the basis of her termination. By filing a lawsuit to the court, Viani will only humiliate herself," said Elva Farhi Qolbina, secretary of PSI's Jakarta chapter.
Elva said the decision to boot out Viani was taken after a long process of an internal investigation and questioning with the accused, in which she was given a chance to defend herself.
Viani has allegedly inflated her spending on field programs to address constituents, amounting to Rp 302 million. Her feud with the party began after the media reported that she had challenged traffic policemen who ticketed her for violating traffic restrictions based on odd-even plate licenses.
She reportedly told the officers: "I will lodge a protest. It's me who makes the regulation."
PSI made its election debut in 2019 and managed to win legislative seats in several cities with progressive programs on clean government and gender equality. It also openly opposes polygamy to win significant support from female voters.
It won eight seats in the Jakarta Legislative Council, two more than those of the Golkar Party.
However, PSI failed to reach the parliamentary threshold for a House of Representatives seat.