Wealth Blog

Jakarta pile-up – where were the parents?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 6:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 6:12pm

Sunday’s horrific car accident in which a car allegedly driven by a 13-year-old in Jakarta was involved in a pile-up where six people died and nine were seriously injured gets more extraordinary by the day.

You couldn’t make it up. Jakarta papers reported that Abdul Qodir Jaelani, 13, youngest son of popular Indonesian rock musician Ahmad Dhani, 41, was driving a black Mitsubishi Lancer home after dropping off his girlfriend early on Sunday morning. That’s right; a 13-year old boy was driving his girlfriend home in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

The accident happened when the Mitsubishi sports car, moving at high speed on the Jakarta-bound lane, apparently struck a road separator, jumped into a different lane and collided with two other vehicles.

The Mitsubishi had been given to him as a birthday present. That’s correct, someone, presumably his parents, had given him, or allowed him to be given, a powerful car for his 13th birthday. Most rich kids that age get iphones, but no, this one got the keys to a potentially lethal set of wheels.

Local outrage

This has sparked outrage in Jakarta and a huge debate on the excesses of the rich and famous, as well as underage driving. The child himself did not escape unscathed and is injured in hospital with a broken leg.

Jakarta police have reportedly named him as a suspect for reckless driving, an offence that carries up to six years in jail. Jakarta police told reporters that statements will be taken from the boy's parents, who are divorced, on how he learnt to drive. Traffic police said a urine test on Abdul Qodir, known as Dul, found no trace of alcohol or drugs.

If this was my kid, I’d get down to the nick pretty fast. Upset as he must have been, the boy’s father was nevertheless able to be interviewed on TVOne, on Monday night.  But no, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday that Ahmad Dhani didn’t to show up at the Jakarta Police’s traffic directorate in Pancoran, South Jakarta, for questioning. Police said he could’t attend, because his son, who has a broken leg, was having an operation.

Everything about this story is astonishing. The phenomenon of the spoilt scions of rich dads being let loose behind the wheel of sports cars is nothing new, especially in China, but this must be the youngest yet. Where were his parents on Sunday night? Who allowed him to drive the car? Who even gave him the car, in the first place? Who was keeping an eye on the kids? What were his parents thinking? How did he learn to drive? How could the girlfriend’s parents – assuming she was about 13 as well – allowed her out unchaperoned in the early hours of Sunday morning, driven by another kid?

He should marry the widows

I like the thinking of Farhat Abbas, a local lawyer known for his controversial comments on Twitter, who has voiced strong support for the crash victims.

In his Tweets, Farhat says it would be fair for the victims and family for Dhani to marry the widows of the accident victims. He is reported as saying, presumably in a translation: “I’m concerned about Dhani’s intentions and promises to help finance the education of the victims’ children. I will only trust him if he marries their mothers,” he said on his Twitter account, @farhatabbaslaw, posted at 6:27pm on Monday.

Farhat was also reportedly unimpressed by Dhani’s interview statement on Monday on TVOne, in which he apparently said that: “everyone should share in the blame,” including the occupants of the other cars and the state highway operator, (for not telling police when his underage driver son entered the toll gate.) Whatever happened to the idea that parents are responsible for their children?

Best of all, the Jakarta Globe reports police saying that in light of the accident, parents would “no longer be allowed” to give cars as gifts to their children if they were under the age of 17 and thus ineligible to apply for a driver’s license. “No longer?”  Does this mean it was OK before this accident?