Lion Air's chief executive has officially joined the National Awakening Party (PKB), he announced on Sunday, citing the influence of the late Abdurrahman Wahid on his decision to enter politics.
"I owe a moral duty to Gus Dur," Rusdi Kirana said in a press release, referring to Indonesia's fourth president Abdurahim Wahid by his nickname. "It's certainly impossible for me to repay him.
"However small [the gesture is], I want to thank [him] by joining the PKB, the platform of Gus Dur's political struggle for the development of this nation."
Rusdi cited Gus Dur's leadership and his push for pluralism as his political inspiration. Separate from his political career, was also a leader of the country's biggest Islamic mass organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).
"Gus Dur made me, as a Chinese person, feel equal to my brothers and sisters of other ethnicities in this country," Rusdi said.
Rusdi has been made the deputy chairman of the PKB, according to Indonesian news portal Detik.com. Last year, the Lion Air chief reportedly attempted to join the Democratic Party's convention, but pulled back at the last minute.
PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar welcomed the move, saying that Rudi would help strengthen the party's image as a more modern political organization.
"First, [his task is] to develop communication with all external parties, then fix internal management in order for it to be more professional," Muhaimin said. "Second, [he must] build a modern image for the party, as one who understands nationalism in order to be accepted by all members of the public."