Wimar Witoelar on the presidential race

02 June 2014

Wimar Witoelar on the presidential race between Prabowo and Jokowi

with Dalton Tanonaka and Marissa Anita on "Today's Indonesia", The Indonesian Channel, June 2, 2014

DT: How close is this race?

WW: Getting closer, but it’s still not close. I will not cite the figures. Everybody knows the figures. But as is usual in the last phase of the election, he’s catching up. Prabowo is catching up to Jokowi, but I don’t know if he’ll make it.

MA: The PDIP is the party of the daughter of founding father Sukarno. Do you think Megawati will be the power behind the man if Jokowi wins?

WW: I don’t think so, because people are ready to move on beyond the old symbols, beyond the old names.

DT: But is she ready to move on, that’s the question.

WW: She will be after the election is done. Because the presidential election is about one man one vote for the President. So she’ll have to shape up. It is between Prabowo and Jokowi, not between Gerindra and PDIP.

DT: But she says things like [Jokowi] is a man of the party, not the man of the people.

WW: Let her say what she wants, it is her right. And it’s the people’s right to demand accountability from the President.

DT: Critics say that Jokowi’s lack of leadership at this level is a negative. Other people say it’s positive. It’s a fresh option. He is untainted.

WW: And also he has shown leadership in fixing up this very messy market at Tanah Abang, in firing one of the mayors of Jakarta because he was not doing well, and also firing his transportation head. He has done a lot of action. Prabowo has been decisive in 98 for things he still he has to explain. Jokowi has done maybe little things, but concrete things.

MA: Prabowo and his social media followers know very well that you’re not a fan.  

WW: I’m a friend but not a fan.

MA: Exactly. So what is your main objection?

WW: My main objection is.. Why should we pick someone who has been problematic in the past when we have a candidate who is clean? All Prabowo has to do is explain what he did in 98, why he went to Jordan, and what he has done since, campaigning here. It’s a bit opaque, not transparent

DT: The general has not been brought up on charges. But you feel he hasn’t satisfactorily answered the questions.

WW: He hasn’t satisfied the Human Rights Commission when they invited him. And he hasn’t subjected himself to critical scrutiny. I don’t know if the reporters – you being one of them- have had a chance to ask him. If I was he, and I am not he, I would grab every chance to explain myself before plunging in. It’s good that we have a democracy and that it’s functioning very well up till now. One the election is done there will be no second guesses. If people vote against him, that’s it. He doesn’t have to explain himself, nor will he rise up again. If he wins…. That’s hypothetical.

MA: But if we give him the benefit of the doubt, do you think he could surprise you and turn out to be the decisive and fair leader that Indonesians say they want?

WW: That would be a big surprise. To be honest, he would surprise me. I hope he will, but well.. That’s hypothetical.

DT: But if he wins, do you think that as residents of this country he won’t be as bad as his harshest critics say?

WW: I would say, may the best man win. If he wins, all glory to him, but let him not take away our civil liberties away, freedom of the press, and all..

DT: You don’t think he would do that? That’s going back to pre-New Order days.

WW: I’m just afraid he might.  If people raise a fuss, he will say, “enough of this noise, let’s control the stations.”

DT: Let me ask you this last question. What qualities are needed to lead this country during its growing role in politics and the economy?

WW: The quality that we need most of all is being able to listen to the people, and being able to lead by example., both now as well as historical. Let him be steered by the people through direct interaction. Communication. I think communication is the secret.

DT: Moving closer to true democracy then

WW: Yes, and I think we’re getting there. This election will be testimony to the success we have achieved in 

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