A Kinder, Gentler and More Law-abiding Leader

07 August 2014

by Wimar Witoelar

Broadcast: July 8, 2014 on The Indonesia Channel, Channel 32, First Media


Dalton Tanonaka: Global interest has focused on who will become the country’s seventh President in its history. On the ground here, it’s been the most heated debate  since the fall of Suharto. Wimar Witoelar was the former presidential spokesman for President Abdurrahman Wahid, now a fervent Jokowi supporter. Viva Dewi is a Prabowo campaign team leader. Thank you very much both for coming in. Both of you I guess are very confident facing tomorrow. What factors lead you to believe that your candidate will sin tomorrow?

Viva Dewi: Thank you, Dalton. I think Indonesia needs a good leader who has a vision, domestic and international. I think Prabowo has that. I think he has discipline and he is smart. And he has a vision for the poor people, for the farmer, for the fishermen all over Indonesia. I think we will win, I think our country will change dramatically. I believe in that, okay? 

Dalton Tanonaka: What are Jokowi’s strengths and pluses? Why do you think he will win, Wimar? 

Wimar Witoelar: Well, I walk around on the streets. I have a fairly large circle of communities that I work with. There’s so much energy to vote for a person who comes from the masses who is one of them, one of us. It is a refreshing change from people who have led Indonesia in the past decade, sometimes to a terrible fate. We hope we will have a clean future, less corrupt and certainly with a more open dialogue. That’s Jokowi. 

Dalton Tanonaka: What has your candidate been doing well in this campaign, and what could he have done better? 

Wimar Witoelar: Well, I don’t know what he did well in his campaign, what he did in his life, in his career. He is very clean. Has been his whole life. He has managed the modest city of Solo almost impeccably. He has created change for Jakarta. He did not flunk out, he campaigned on several debates. He won on several points on substance if not on style. The debate results are questionable but his record is clear. He is a kind gentleman, open and communicative. 

Dalton Tanonaka: Is being kind and communicative enough? What has your candidate been doing perhaps better in your opinion (Viva)? 

Viva Dewi: Prabowo’s style is different from Jokowi’s style. We know our country needs a strong leader. For Prabowo’s style is: We do care for the people, we just don’t blabber about it. I’ve been traveling everywhere. I know Jokowi well. He is very humble. People from Central Java are humble. It’s their lifestyle. It’s not something new. But we need a President who is a leader. He needs to be a strong person. Jokowi is a good person. I know him. But I went to Solo recently. The economy is the same, nothing has changed. The market is the same. Solo people like him but everything is about public relations. 

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Dalton Tanonaka: Of course Jokowi supporters say that Solo is better off now. 

Wimar Witoelar: The great thing about these elections is also what’s great about Indonesia. We have a democracy. People can have different opinions and sit nicely side by side. I hope we will still be friends after the elections. We’ve had strong leaders in the last. We’ve had Sukarno who ruled for twenty-something years and led the nation to economic bankruptcy and international humiliation. We became an international pariah. The only friends we had were North Korea and Cambodia and Cuba. And then we had a very strong leader, Suharto whom I endorsed in the beginning but ended up presiding over a huge record of human rights violation and corruption. And some of the perpetrators of corruption and human rights violation are still running around. In fact they are running for office. Now, let us have a kinder, gentler and more law-abiding leader.

Dalton Tanonaka: What is the tightness of the race, the tightening according to surveys mean for each side? What does it tell you that some people are calling it too close too call? 

Wimar Witoelar: Since it’s too close to call, I will not call it. I’ll just wait till tomorrow and see the results. 

Dalton Tanonaka: What does it mean? Does it mean that people are undecided?

Wimar Witoelar: It means the pollsters have their own methods of measurements. I don’t see it on the streets. I don’t see it in the crowds. I don’t see it in the concerts. I don’t see it among young people; I don’t see it among musicians who almost all endorse Jokowi except those who play for pay.

Dalton Tanonaka: Are you encouraged Viva, by the tightening of the race?

Viva Dewi: The way I see it, Prabowo is the party for the young and PDIP is very old. People are getting smarter now. I think it’s going to be very close. It’s going to be very dangerous. There’s going to be a lot cheating. But God will help. God save Prabowo.

Dalton Tanonaka: Last question for both of you. If your candidate does not win, what will happen on Thursday morning? 

Viva Dewi: We’ll see. 

Wimar Witoelar: That is ominous. That is frightening. What do you mean, “we’ll see”? 

Viva Dewi: Well, we’ll see. I think we’ll gonna see, so nothing will happen. 

Wimar Witoelar: If Jokowi loses, we will all go back to work. We have no threat of any disruption; it is just an electoral process. We have submitted a clean candidate to the nation. If the nation votes for the not-so-clean candidate, so be it. We will not protest. I keep hearing this ominous saying: “Losing is not an option. We will not lose.” That is frightening, isn’t it? 

Viva Dewi: Well, I think everybody is saying that. But I think Prabowo asks us to play it cool. I think we understand that. I think the media change everything. 

Dalton Tanonaka: Nice to blame the media. We are just the messengers. Well Wimar Witoelar, Viva Dewi, thank you for coming in.

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