President Joko Widodo chats with Prabowo Subianto on board a Jakarta MRT train on Saturday. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A.)

Better Late Than Never: Jokowi Finally Has Sit-Down Meeting With Prabowo


JULY 13, 2019

Jakarta. A long-awaited "reconciliation meeting" between re-elected President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his long-time rival Prabowo Subianto finally happened on Saturday on board Jakarta's brand new MRT train as the two leaders spent nearly 20 minutes traveling together from Lebak Bulus to Senayan.

Jokowi and Prabowo admitted the tightly contested presidential election had created unnecessary political division and now was the time to end it.

They described today's meeting as a meeting between "best friends and bothers."

The two appeared relaxed in public despite the fact the election had nearly divided the nation in half.

For months Prabowo refused to accept the official result of the election that showed a clear win for Jokowi with 55.5 percent of the total vote.

Supporters of the former Army Special Forces commander rallied on the streets of Jakarta on May 21 and 22 to protest the result. The demonstrations turned violent and ended in isolated riots that claimed nine lives.

Prabowo also launched an appeal to overturn the result of the election at the Constitutional Court. The appeal was dismissed on June 27 and Jokowi and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin were officially declared president and vice president of Indonesia for the next five years.

Saturday's kiss and make up meet-up between Jokowi and Prabowo is expected to finally ease political tension in the world's third-biggest democracy.

Belated Congratulation

Asked why he had delayed congratulating Jokowi for his re-election, Prabowo said, "I have to follow ewuh pakewuh, manners, a congratulation should be conveyed face to face."

"So that's what I'm doing now, congratulations," Prabowo said as he shook Jokowi’s hands.

"Enjoy your duties in the next five years. And congratulations for the new grey hairs," Prabowo said.

Jokowi laughed heartily at Prabowo's attempt at a joke.

Prabowo also said he will assist the Jokowi administration whenever he could, but will not refrain from criticizing the two-term president when necessary. 

"This meeting is a symbol that the presidential election is now, finally, over," Gajah Mada University researcher Nyarwi Ahmad told Kompas TV on Saturday.

MRT Date

Analysts are already offering their takes on the two leaders' "MRT date," during which Jokowi and Prabowo chatted amiably as they sat side-by-side on a Jakarta MRT train's shiny blue plastic bench.

"Since the meeting took place not in the palace but in a public transportation... this [can be read] as a reconciliation not just for the country's political elite but also for the public," Nyarwi said.

However, there has been no hint on what Jokowi and Prabowo discussed inside the train.

"We decided to take a ride on the MRT this morning because I know Pak Prabowo has not tried it," Jokowi said.

Prabowo said even though the meeting had a relaxed air about it, it should be recognized as an important moment in recent politics.

The executive director of political consultant company Charta Politika, Yunarto Wijaya, said the chosen venue for the meeting could be read as a hint of things to come.

"It was not an elitist meeting. It wasn't held in the palace or in a luxury hotel but in a public space… it wasn't just a reconciliation between Jokowi and Prabowo, but [also symbolized one] between the people," Yunarto told Kompas TV.

Gun Gun Hariyanto, a political analyst from State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah, disagreed, saying the meeting was still elitist because the two leaders refused to divulge what they had discussed. 

"[The optics] were all populist but in essence it was still elitist because we didn't know what was discussed and what had happened backstage," he said in an interview with Kompas TV.

No More 'Cebong' Vs. 'Kampret'

During a long year of campaigning that culminated in the country's first simultaneous legislative and presidential elections in April, Jokowi's supporters earned the pejorative nickname "cebong" (tadpoles) while Prabowo's supporters were nicknamed "kampret" (bats).

The two partisan camps traded insults, accusations and threats constantly on social media, leading to what critics feared was a permanent rupture in Indonesian politics.

Both Jokowi and Prabowo on Saturday called for an end to the destabilizing division.

"There's no more cebong or kampret. The only thing left is Garuda Pancasila," Jokowi said, referring to Indonesia's national emblem.

"I agree. There is no more cebong or kampret, all we have is the Merah Putih," Prabowo said. The Merah Putih (Red and White) is the national flag of Indonesia.

After briefly facing the press at Senayan MRT Station, Jokowi and Prabowo walked to the nearby FX Entertainment mall where they had lunch at Sate Khas Senayan, a restaurant specializing in Indonesian cuisine.

Satay and Court Jesters

Jokowi and Prabowo occupied a table at the restaurant with a background of punakawan shadow puppets.

Punakawan are court jesters in Indonesian wayang who symbolize understanding and friendship.

Prabowo and Jokowi both ate the restaurant's signature satay dish before saying their goodbyes.

"That was an impressive [meeting]... [because] they didn't use it to make any political deal," Gun Gun said.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, who was also at the meeting, said the two political leaders will hold other meetings in the future.

Saturday's meeting was also attended by National Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, the head of Jokowi's campaign team Erick Tohir, Prabowo's Gerindra Party secretary general Ahmad Muzani and Gerindra deputy chairman Edy Prabowo.

Shouts of "We love you!" were heard from the large crowd at FX mall as Jokowi and Prabowo walked away from a meeting that may spell the end of political partisanship in the country — at least until the next election.

Ahmad Muzani

Artikel ini telah tayang di dengan judul "Prabowo Nyatakan Siap Jadi Oposisi",
Penulis : Kristian Erdianto
Editor : Icha Rastika