Commentary: Does Megawati’s Son Intend to Avenge Jokowi’s ‘Betrayal’?


JUNE 15, 2015

Jakarta. Supporters of President Joko Widodo have denied allegations that the recently released song “Traitor” by Prananda Prabowo, a son of Megawati Soekarnoputri, Joko’s political patron, is directed at the president.

Sihol Manulang, the head of the Jokowi Volunteers Front (BaraJP), claims the song is directed at officials who have failed to fulfill their promises to the people at large, and that Prananda is not targeting the president, who rose to his position because of the nomination of Megawati’s the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

To agree with such claims, we need to carefully analyze the lyrics of Prananda’s song, made with his band Rodinda and which has been uploaded on Youtube, where it is attracting a curious public. The song is in Indonesian, but its translation is roughly as follows:

"Surrendered have I all my soul To be the breath in your struggle But you a traitor You blow the war trumpet The two aces You think because of your power You render me unmovable Deception is your promise Deceitful your intoxicating smile Enough my wounds My hatred preserved Remaining time my altercation You a traitor A benign-face traitor You a traitor Behold your actions It’s time for you to depart It’s time for you to depart Your end has come A shameless human Deception is your promise Deceitful your intoxicating smile Enough my wound My hatred preserved Remaining time my altercation You the traitor A benign-face traitor Behold your actions Your end has come A shameless human Wait for the time It surely will come When I make my day To avenge the betrayal."

Before Prananda released the song, the relationship between the president and Megawati’s family had presumably deteriorated over a number of reasons.

The latest incident was when Joko erroneously referred to Blitar instead of Surabaya as the birthplace of Megawati’s father, founding president Sukarno. Before this, Puan Maharani, Megawati’s daughter and the coordinating minister for human development and cultural affairs, labeled Joko “an assigned executive of the party,” effectively saying that he was answerable to a higher authority.

Prior to that, Megawati had issued a strongly worded statement warning anyone unwilling to abide by the party’s hierarchical stipulations to leave.

Prananda starts his song with a resentful expression as his backing chorus shouts out the word “traitor.”

As a new rising star in the PDI-P constellation, Prananda is not known to have launched any big political agenda, to which an obstruction could justify a sudden outburst of anger to be publicized in that manner. Is he actually echoing Megawati’s anger? But even so, against whom?

Megawati’s family has no reason to fire such political shots at anybody; their only opponent was presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who has since the election embraced Joko and promised to support his presidency until 2019.

No single politician in Indonesia today is so dangerous to Megawati to be the reason for plotting revenge. So where can we find a rational reason to defend the notion that Prananda is not aiming at President Joko?

The lyrics clearly suggest that the so-called “traitor” should be brought down because the composer believes the time has come to end his rule. Who else would best fit the message conveyed by the song?

In uttering the phrase “It is time for you to depart,” Prananda used the Latin phrase “tempus abire tibi est.” The complete phrase of this Latin expression introduced by Quintus Horatius Flaccus is: “Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti; tempus abire tibi est,” which translates as, “You have amused yourself, you have eaten and have drunk enough; it is time for you to depart.”

Depart from where? Only a person in power can be expected to leave his position. And “betrayal” is a word that, according to Free Dictionary by Farlex, has two meanings: first, to give aid or information to an enemy, commit treason against; and second, to inform upon or deliver into the hands of an enemy in violation of a trust or allegiance. defines the word “betrayal” more comprehensively as: “To deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty; to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling; to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to; to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence; to reveal unconsciously [something one would preferably conceal]”; and “to deceive, misguide, or corrupt.”

Meanwhile, the dictionary defines the word “traitor,” which is repeatedly used in Prananda’s song, as “a person who betrays another, a cause, or any trust; a person who commits treason by betraying his or her country.”

This lyric is extraordinary because the composer must have identified the the kind of person who fits his description before including such precise words as “traitor” and “betrayal” to justify his conviction. The phrase “deception is your promise” suggests that the so-called “traitor” has betrayed his oath of allegiance.

If indeed this song is directed at the president, Megawati, being a highly respected public figure, needs to come forth with a clear explanation so as not to arouse wilder speculation.

The public does not need another aimless political tug-of-war between her and the president at a time when stability is required to ensure successful execution of the government’s agenda.

Anybody in Joko’s position as it is right now would not be able to maneuver freely as president because he is surrounded by so many conflicts of interests. Some of these originate in the political parties that put him in the chair, others from business powers whose approaches are hard to resist.

Joko has even revealed that some oil mafioso had failed to force him to fire Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti even though they tried in to bribe him with up to Rp 5 trillion ($375 million).

Joko is heading a country that is infested with anacondas, rats and tigers. The newly appointed chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Maj. Gen. (ret) Sutiyoso, was right: when Joko was running for Jakarta governor, Sutiyoso had warned that unlike Solo, Central Java, where Joko served as mayor and where people were more obedient, the capital would be a dangerous jungle full of beasts.

If becoming the top leader of Jakarta is like trying to rule over a jungle full of beasts, it is more so now that he rules the country, a much bigger and more dangerous jungle, from which he probably does not know how to maneuver safely.

But that is not what the nation — the public at large — is waiting for. Our economy is not performing well as the rupiah continues to plummet against the dollar, food prices are on the rise, the household burden soars along with unemployment, and regional competition has caught us unprepared.

Indonesia’s public figures and politicians need to be aware that the countly would face a larger crisis unless the government can perform well. What is tragically lacking, unfortunately, is a sense of urgency to solve, instead of attack, those myriad problems.

Pitan Daslani is director of Managing the Nation Institute in Jakarta. He can be reached at