Garut Regent Aceng Fikri, who has been faced heavy criticism for marrying an 18-year-old native Garut girl, identified only as FO, in an Islamic marriage ceremony on July 14 and then reportedly divorcing her via text message four days later, has publicly apologized to the girl, his family and the people of Garut in West Java.
“If what I did was wrong, even though it was allowed by Islamic law, then I deeply apologize to my family and my ex-wife,” he said after a meeting with West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan to clarify the issue at the Pakuan Building in Bandung on late Monday.
Aceng added that he had never intended to be disrespectful to women, saying that making mistakes is only human.
The regent decided to marry the girl in July while he was still married to Nurrohimah, with whom he has three children.
Commenting on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s instruction to investigate the case Aceng said that he fully accepted it.
“I welcome anyone, especially my superiors, to scrutinize and reprimand me. In terms of sanction [by the Home Ministry], as long as it is proportional and follows the law, then there is no problem,” he said.
Ahmad, meanwhile, said that the regent had violated the ethics code as well as being indecent by marrying and divorcing the teenager.
“Marriage is supposed to be honest and not concealed. Marriage is for eternity. Aceng, however, only married her for four days. This is not appropriate,” he said.
Ahmad added that findings from the meeting with Aceng would be forwarded to the Home Ministry, which holds the authority to punish the regent.
Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said he could not remove the disgraced regent because, under a 2005 government regulation on the election, inauguration and dismissal of regional leaders, only the regional legislative body of the respective region could impeach a regional leader.