US President-elect Donald Trump, right, stands with Setya Novanto, the speaker of Indonesia's House of Representatives, at Trump Tower in New York. (Reuters Photo/Lucas Jackson)

Indonesia’s House Speaker Makes Unexpected Appearance at Trump Rally


SEPTEMBER 04, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia’s parliamentary speaker and one of his deputies made a surprise appearance at a campaign event by US presidential candidate Donald Trump in New York on Thursday, in a stunt both the House and the Foreign Ministry said they were not aware of.

Both Setya Novanto, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and Fadli Zon, a deputy speaker, were seen standing in a group of people behind Trump as he spoke at the Trump Tower.

Business Insider reported that after he finished speaking, Trump walked away from the podium only to return with Setya, whom he introduced to the crowd.

“The speaker of the house of Indonesia, he’s here to see me. Setya Novanto, one of the most powerful men and a great man,” Trump said as quoted by Business Insider.

“And his whole group is here to see me today. And we will do great things for the United States is that correct?”

“Yes,” Setya said.

Trump then asked “Do they like me in Indonesia?”, to which Setya responded, “Yes, highly. Thank you Very much.”

A Business Insider reporter later spoke with the considerably more articulate Fadli, who said Trump was a popular figure back in Indonesia.

“I think we like him because he’s also invested in Indonesia. He has some projects in Bali and West Java, so he’s a friend of Indonesia,” Fadli said.

“I think he is also very famous with his show and, of course, Indonesian people, when they talk about a millionaire or billionaire, what will pop up in their minds first is Donald Trump.”

The report did not say why the Indonesian politicians were at Trump’s press conference, although a House member in Jakarta said they were supposed to be in New York representing Indonesia at an inter-parliamentary gathering hosted by the United Nations.

“It’s very unethical for them to meet with a presidential candidate and even show up at a campaign event for the candidate,” said Charles Honoris, a House member from President Joko Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

“Their presence could be interpreted as Indonesia’s endorsement [of Trump]. They must explain themselves to the rest of the House members and to the people for this embarrassing incident,” he added.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the presence of the politicians at the event, where Trump signed a pledge not to run as an independent candidate, should not be construed as any form of support or endorsement by Indonesia for the billionaire’s presidential bid.

“From what we understand, the House speaker was in the US for a series of meetings,” Arrmanatha said at a weekly press briefing in Jakarta on Friday.

He said Setya, Zon and the three other deputy speakers were scheduled to attend the conference at the United Nations, as well as meet John Boehner, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, and speak with members of the Indonesian diaspora in the West Coast.