Prabowo: If he accepts the results without protest, he is a statesman.
22 July 2014
Wimar Witoelar on Election Final, with Dalton Tanonaka
July 21, 2014 on The Indonesia Channel
Dalton: Like a song, the end is near. Or is it?
Wimar: I think so. The Indonesia made sure that the end will be graceful and immediate.
Prisma: The Election Commission already showed that Jokowi is ahead. Did you see anything surprising?
Wimar: No. I am just surprised - and happily relieved, actually – that the threats that had darkened the electoral skies turned out not to be there. Now I think we are proceeding to a soft landing.
Dalton: Now for the breakdown by provinces, how did they appear out to you? Certain places for Prabowo-Hatta, and certain domination in places by Jokowi?
Wimar: I guess I’m not that close a student of the breakdowns, but I notice that in the capital of Jakarta which in the first estimate had been conceded to Prabowo, after the recount turned out quite strongly for Jokowi. It seems the more they do recounts, the more Jokowi gains strength.
Prisma: A number of supporters of Prabowo have made statements conceding defeat. But Prabowo himself is refusing to do so. How will that work out for the coalition going forward?
Wimar: This is the most interesting feature of this episode of the drama. Members of the coalitiom, one by one have considered defeat in their public statements, but later on they said they were misquoted. But if you look at the recordings of their statements they were not misquoted. This creates confusion as to what is the true stance of these coalition members. Be that as it may, I think the coalition is damaged. The PAN is unclear. Amien Rais, the founder of PAN, has declared himself not in support. Prabowo has no choice but stand firm . Actually I sympathize with him, because to a certain extent he has been done a disservice by his coalition members. These people are all more street smart than Prabowo, so if they gave him the wrong impression, that really did him a disservice.
Dalton: In an essay you wrote in the Jakarta Post today, you called for a licensing of presidential candidates. Explain that, because it seems kind of unwieldy, actually.
Wimar: Well, there was so much energy lost and some acrimony generated when they discussed this issue of human rights violation alleged against Prabowo. A lot of people believe that for a fact, that it is just a matter of legality to prove it, while Prabowo thinks he is not guilty. So they spend a lot of energy on the matter, while this is actually a prerequisite, if you will. If you take an exam in political science in the university, you get graded on your results, but you must have passed a prerequisite like a high school diploma. To be a presidential candidate, you must have no doubt on your record vis-à-vis human rights violations, and no doubts on corruption as some people have in the coalition. Once the candidates are clean, you can have an intelligent choice.
Dalton: Licensing might not be the correct thing because politics might enter the picture. Like who is going to do the licensing? Maybe you mean like the candidates should have resolved the issues in the courts beforw running.
Wimar: Yes, that’s what I was trying to say.
Prisma: You also called on Prabowo Subianto to be a statesman. Will you be able to call him that tomorrow?
Wimar: If he acepts the results without asking for a recount, without going to the Constitutional Court, then in my book he is a statesman. Because he will have made up for all the accusations against him for not being one. By going through this exercise in democracy he will have proven that he is a democrat. Is he ambitious for the presidency? Yes, that’s fine. But he has not gone about it in violent means or extra-constitutional means. If he goes with the election results and accepts them, then he is a statesman.
Dalton: Wimar, you were a presidential spokesman for President Abdurrahman Wahid. If you were writing Prabowo’s acceptance speech, how would you write it, what would you write for him to say? What would make him be even more popular than he has ever been?
Wimar: “Ladies and gentlemen, I express my sincere gratitude for accepting me once again into the mainstream of Indonesian politics. I have long sought to restore my credibility and your trust in me as a patriot, and you have done so. I lost by a small margin. For me as a humble soldier that is very encouraging.”
Dalton: And if he said that, you would be ecstatic?
Wimar: I would be ecstatic, and I would like him even more. I like the guy, I just didn’t want him to be a president under these circumstances, with these shadows hanging over him.
Dalton: Wimar Witoelar, thank you.