COMMENTARY – Indonesia President Jokowi is smarter than SBY in building political dynasty
Kornelius Purba The Jakarta Post Wed, February 17, 2021
President Joko Widodo (left) and First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo (center) stroll around the Bogor Presidential Palace accompanied by their son Gibran Rakabuming Raka and his wife Selvi Ananda and son Jan Ethes and daughter Kahiyang Ayu and husband Bobby Afif Nasution and their daughter Sedah Mirah on Dec. 8, 2018.(JP/Seto Wardhana)
JAKARTA – While President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will soon watch his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka and son-in-law Bobby Nasution assume office as the mayors of Surakarta in Central Java and Medan in North Sumatra, his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), has to witness his retired army major son Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono struggling to defend his Democratic Party chairmanship against an alleged “coup attempt”.
What will be your conclusion about Jokowi and SBY in preparing the political future of their children, especially when you relate it with the 2024 simultaneous elections that will include the presidential election?
I think neither Gibran nor Bobby will directly follow in Jokowi’s footsteps, while SBY’s son stands little chance of fulfilling his father’s ambition.
Of the seven presidents Indonesia has ever had, founding president Sukarno proved to be the most successful in having his offspring emulate him.
Sukarno’s daughter, Megawati Soekarnoputri, not only became the fifth president (2001-2004), but also fully controls the nationalist-oriented Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), now the biggest party in the country.
Megawati is now grooming her own daughter, Puan Maharani, to fill in her shoes not only as future PDI-P chair but also as a future Indonesian leader.
You can say anything you wish about Puan’s capacity, but the current House of Representatives speaker stands a great chance of contesting the 2024 election either as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate, simply because the PDI-P holds strong bargaining power.
After Megawati, I think, Jokowi will take his turn.
In 2024, his son will likely contest the gubernatorial post in Central Java or Jakarta, while his son-in-law may try his luck in North Sumatra.
Now the public is closely following Jokowi, who some media say is making concerted efforts to build his own political dynasty in order to keep his political clout intact after leaving office in 2024.
SBY has also been grooming his eldest son, Agus, to replicate his success in politics.
Jokowi and SBY, however, have chosen very different paths, which is understandable, given their contrasting background.
Jokowi comes from a middle-class family that had no connection at all with the country’s political elites, while SBY is a retired four-star general whose father-in-law was a legendary military general.
Agus stirred a controversy early this month for sending a letter of protest to President Jokowi, accusing several top government officials of trying hard to oust him as the Democratic Party chairman.
Agus was “practically” the crown prince who succeeded SBY in March last year as chairman of the party his father cofounded in August 2013, just a few months before running in and winning the country’s first direct presidential election.
Born on Aug. 10, 1978, Agus completed his stint at the Military Academy in 2000 as the best graduate. His mercurial military career, however, ended in 2016 when he was still a major.
SBY asked him to contest the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, but he lost.
The Jakarta governor post used to go to major generals or higher military officers.
SBY reportedly wanted Agus to run in the 2019 presidential election and after the elections were over held talks with Jokowi for a possibility to give Agus a ministerial post as a platform for his future political career.
SBY has denied the alleged scenario.
Presidential Chief of Staff Gen. (ret) Moeldoko was singled out by Agus’s inner circle as the mastermind behind the “attempted coup” against Agus.
Moeldoko, a former Indonesian Military commander, denied the accusation but admitted to having met with some Democratic Party executives who wanted changes in the party.
I am not sure if Moeldoko really wished to take over the Democratic Party, but if true, that would be understandable, because he needs a political vehicle ahead of the 2024 elections.
In building a political clan, Jokowi is realistic, while SBY may overrate his son.
Jokowi wanted his son and son-in-law to start from the lower rungs of the national political hierarchy, just like he himself did.
Jokowi started his political career as the mayor of Surakarta in 2005, before stepping up the ladder as Jakarta governor in 2012 and finally assuming the presidency in 2014.
Like father like son, 33-year-old Gibran will soon follow Jokowi’s footsteps as the mayor of Surakarta.
Meanwhile, 29-year-old Bobby will be inaugurated as the mayor of his hometown Medan.
Both Gibran and Bobby are medium-scale entrepreneurs, very much like Jokowi was before he turned to politics.
The three are affiliated with the PDI-P.
After serving for more than three years, both Gibran and Bobby will gain more confidence to run for governor in 2024, when Jokowi completes his second and final term.
And how about Agus? Many people said his father had blundered from the very beginning for stretching Agus too hard. No matter how smart Agus is, the very fact that he is a retired army major will continue to haunt his political ambition.
To me, Jokowi seems to be much smarter and more realistic in building his political dynasty than SBY, who has often criticized Jokowi in public. But 2024 is still three years away and anything can happen to the next generation of the current political elites and their ambitions.*** The writer is a senior editor at The Jakarta Post
SOURCE: The Jakarta Post, Indonesia Wed, February 17, 2021