Indonesia’s Vice President Wary of Playboy

Kat Khan
JAKARTA — Indonesia's vice president Jusuf Kalla has added his voice to a growing row over Playboy’s upcoming launch in Indonesia, after 1,000 members of the Muslim Movement against Vice chanted slogans and ceremoniously burned bundles of erotic magazines outside the Hotel Indonesia in the centre of Jakarta on Thursday.

The protest was the latest in a series of movements against erotic magazine, since Playboy announced its intended launch, despite the promises of Ponti Carolus – whose firm bought the rights to the new version of the magazine – to tone down the contents.

"Here we are not in the U.S. – even in Singapore they have opposed it," Kalla said, adding that the March launch is "an error."

The imminent arrival in the majority Muslim nation of a magazine that made its name by publishing portraits of naked women, has triggered a row that shows no signs of diminishing. Yet even as the moralizing continues, local sex shops have reported a boom in business. Such attention is unwelcome in Jakarta, where the pornographic industry is reportedly thriving.

Local tabloid publications such as Boss, Expose and Dugem, which show semi-nude local beauties on their covers, can be found on newsstands throughout the country. Such magazines cost $0.17, compared to the $2.55 Playboy will ask for its magazine, targeting a more specific niche than the general population.

Additionally, the Indonesia parliament is discussing possible amendments to its pornography law. Among the proposed modifications are deeming kissing in public and wearing very revealing clothes as illegal.