INDONESIA: As President Joko Widodo approaches the end of his term, allegations of political dynasty-building have surfaced.
These accusations stem from the recent developments involving his sons, Kaesang Pangarep and Gibran Rakabuming Raka.
However, when questioned about these claims during a public event, President Jokowi responded with laughter, emphasizing his distance from their political endeavours.
Kaesang Pangarep, Jokowi’s youngest son, recently assumed the position of Chairman of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI).
Simultaneously, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the President’s eldest son and the current Mayor of Solo, Central Java, is being considered as a potential running mate for Prabowo Subianto in the upcoming Presidential Election.
President Jokowi’s distancing from son’s political activities
When asked about these developments during a rice harvest event in Karanglayung, Sukra, West Java, on Friday (13 Oct), President Jokowi shook his head and claimed not to be privy to his son Gibran’s political activities, noting that they hadn’t met in several months.
“For several months, we haven’t met,” he remarked, acknowledging the distance between them. He also deferred the allegations to the public, stating, “Let the people decide.”
This controversy surrounding a possible political dynasty was partially fueled by Denny Siregar, a social media influencer and vocal Jokowi supporter. In a video titled ‘Surat Cinta untuk Bapak Jokowi’ or ‘Love Letter to Mr. Jokowi,’ Denny critiqued and offered political advice concerning the actions of Jokowi’s children.
In the video, Denny discussed the legal challenge regarding the presidential and vice-presidential age limit that was associated with Gibran Rakabuming and also commented on Kaesang’s elevation to the leadership of PSI.
He conveyed his concerns for President Jokowi, whom he deeply admires.
‘Love letter to Mr Jokowi’
Denny later explained that his ‘Love Letter to Mr Jokowi’ video was a manifestation of his affection for the president and a call for constructive criticism. He emphasized the importance of criticizing when necessary and praising when deserved as a sign of genuine concern.
Denny also distinguished between criticism and attack, warning against those who merely praise without substance and loyalty, comparing them to Harmoko, a politician during the New Order era, who initially supported President Soeharto but later abandoned him when the situation changed.
Meanwhile, Prabowo Subianto awaits the Constitutional Court’s (MK) decision on the age limit challenge for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, which is scheduled for Monday (16 Oct).
After the verdict is announced, Prabowo is expected to reveal his choice for a running mate, with many speculating that Gibran Rakabuming could be his pick.
Pro-Jokowi campaign chief dismisses political dynasty claims
However, Panel Barus, the Chairman of the Pro-Jokowi Presidential Campaign Team (Projo), reassured that there is no political dynasty taking shape, even if Gibran were to become Prabowo’s running mate.
Panel emphasized that Indonesia follows a highly liberal political model, where the decision of who leads the nation ultimately rests with the people.
Therefore, Panel Barus urged that the narrative of the political dynasty be put to rest, stating it is not relevant in Indonesia’s liberal political landscape. He highlighted that there are no legal restrictions preventing family members of public officials from entering politics and participating in elections.
To illustrate his point, Panel cited several examples, such as Puan Maharani, the daughter of PDIP’s Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY), and Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono (Ibas), the sons of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the Chairman of the Democratic Party.
He underlined that the decision to elect or reject such candidates ultimately rests with the electorate, making the assertion of political dynasties moot.
Prominent party leaders advocating for transparent and inclusive political participation
The discussion around political dynasties initially stemmed from a legal challenge filed by the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) concerning the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, arguing that it was in the best interest of young people’s constitutional rights.
Komarudin Watubun, Chairman of the Honor Council of the Central Board of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), expressed his strong opposition to the idea of political dynasties, stating that the public would not approve of such attempts in modern Indonesia.
He emphasized that modern democratic Indonesia was founded on principles that oppose the dynastic rule and favour open and inclusive political participation.
Komarudin drew a parallel between contemporary politics and the rejection of the New Order era due to allegations of corruption and nepotism, reinforcing the importance of a transparent and inclusive political process.
He also stressed the need for a rigorous process of political education and leadership development before individuals take on leadership roles. Komarudin highlighted that even in the United Kingdom, prospective heirs to the throne must meet basic requirements before ascending, emphasizing the importance of maturity and organizational experience in political leadership.
Komarudin pointed out that the PDIP, the party under which Jokowi ran for the presidency, does not promote political dynasties. He cited the example of Megawati Soekarnoputri, the Chairperson of PDIP, who provided opportunities for various individuals, including Jokowi, to lead and did not prioritize her family members for high office.
The controversy surrounding the allegations of a political dynasty in Indonesia continues to spark discussions across the political spectrum. While some contend that these concerns are unfounded in the country’s liberal democratic system, others believe that addressing them is essential to maintaining transparency, accountability, and fairness in the political process.
As the nation awaits the Constitutional Court’s decision on the age limit challenge, the debate is likely to persist and shape the upcoming political landscape.
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