NasDem Party Chairman Surya Paloh delivers the opening speech during the party's congress in Central Jakarta on Friday. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak)
Surya Paloh Inaugurates Himself as NasDem Chairman
NOVEMBER 11, 2019
Jakarta. As many have expected, media magnate Surya Paloh was reelected chairman of the National Democratic Party by acclamation during the last day of its national congress at the Kemayoran Expo building in Central Jakarta on Monday.
"All 34 NasDem regional chapters by acclamation asked the supreme council to declare Mr. Surya Paloh chairman for the 2019-2024 period," NasDem executive Ahmad Ali told reporters.
Ahmad was appointed deputy chairman in the new organizational structure, which also included Surya's son, Prananda Surya Paloh, as head of the party's election campaign team.
After announcing all party executives for the next five years, Surya inaugurated the new leadership team — including himself.
"All delegates, with your permission allow me to inaugurate myself and the other executives. Do you all agree?" Surya asked from the stage to a supportive audience.
NasDem, a key ally in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's coalition, had caused upset among Jokowi's supporters after late last month Surya visited and hugged Sohibul Iman, the chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the main opposition to the government.
They warned Surya against being a "double agent" and urged him to remain at the coalition or leave.
"If [NasDem] wanted to join the opposition camp, the coalition will show them the door. And they should recall all their ministers in the cabinet," Dede Budyarto, a former member of Jokowi's presidential campaign team, said at the weekend.
Even President Jokowi made a joke of Surya's meeting with Sohibul during last week's event to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Golkar Party in which Surya was among the guests.
"Their hug was a bit unusual. Brother Surya has never hugged me as tight as he did Sohibul Iman," Jokowi said to laughters from the audience.
But when he opened the NasDem congress on Friday, Surya reiterated the party's loyalty to the Jokowi government.
"If we want to win more seats [at the House of Representatives], we must be consistent between our words and actions. When we say we are loyal to the president, that's not just lip service," he said.
Surya, 68, founded NasDem in July 2011. The party was the only debutant among ten parties competing in the 2014 legislative election when it managed to win 36 House seats. It did even better in April's election, winning 59 seats.
Surya, the owner of news network Metro TV, has been leading NasDem as chairman since January 2013.