President Jokowi: Leaders Should Not Inflame Situations
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Not because he and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin are placed in a winning position above the rival ticket Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno by the majority of the survey groups, but rather because the post-truth politics has overridden the well-regarded methodology. “We’ve lost our rationality,” he lamented. Jokowi, 57, felt it was time to speak up after he read the editorial of the April 25 issue of the Koran Tempo newspaper which he had cut out and kept on his office desk. Titled ‘The election fraud propaganda’, the article accused the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair of deceiving the public with their call to dismiss the quick count results.
During the interview with Tempo’s Budi Setyarso and Reza Maulana at the Bogor Palace on April 26, he read the editorial out loud with occasional high intonation. “Why didn’t anyone dare to speak like this before?” he asked.
The President regretted that certain quarters have created public opinions by claiming victory and caused confusion among the public in the process. “I really shouldn’t be speaking with candor during interviews,” he said while shooting a glance at Bey Machmudin, the deputy for protocol, press and media of the presidential secretariat, who accompanied him throughout the interview. “But I can’t help it, no.”
The interview, initially scheduled by the palace’s protocol for 15 minutes, went on for 45 minutes. Jokowi also talked about his futile attempt to meet Prabowo, the 2019-2024 work plan and the planned cabinet shakeup.
How did the Koran Tempo editorial attract your attention?
We appreciate the writers’ courage in writing articles like this. Why didn’t anyone dare to write like this before? Let’s take a look, ‘All the propaganda to delegitimize the 2019 general elections results must end. Repeated accusations of fraud without evidence can erode the public’s trust in the election results.’ In the post-truth era like now, this is dangerous.
Like it says here, ‘The unsportsmanlike or even dirty attitude can endanger democracy.’ That is very true. The public have already participated in the elections. We’ve spent Rp25 trillion for the elections only to be undermined by actions like these. There also emerged the term ‘structured, systematic and massive’ (TSM) cheatings, as if cheating has been everywhere. The term TSM has been used in the 2014 presidential election. Now it added with ‘brutal’. Good grief! Poor public. They are confused.
Were there not a number of frauds that indeed occur?
Yes, there were but not like the accusations that say cheatings were everywhere. Legislative candidates, for example, also want to win if there are opportunities.
If so, why didn’t you counter them? I want to speak bluntly when I am interviewed but my team, Bey (Machmudin), doesn’t allow me to do so. He said, ‘Please don’t, Sir. It will heat up the situation.’ But when I see and hear words like structured, systematic and massive—now added with brutal—I can’t help myself, no.
Do you read all the editorials of the media?
I like to keep clippings of positive articles for reading. No one has the guts to speak like the Koran Tempo editorial. The media and also non-formal leaders must be able to clear up public discourses. If not, fake news makes all of us dumb and we lose our rationality. This post-truth situation is real. When we keep hearing lies, they affect our subconscious mind. The longer people are exposed to lies, the harder it is to cure them.
Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno’s team urged the public not to trust the presidential election quick count. What is your reaction?
Quick counts have consistently given fairly accurate results. Surveys may miss the mark but the quick counts usually don’t. We ask the public to think logically and scientifically.
How deeply do you believe in quick counts?
I remember the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election (Joko Widodo running against incumbent Fauzi Bowo). At 3:15 pm (the second round of polls took place on September 20, 2012), after the quick count results came out, Pak Fauzi Bowo called and said, ‘Congratulations, Pak Jokowi. You are the winner. On Monday, I’ll take you to City Hall to see your new office.’ Let us not cover up the things that we already know. Everything is already clear.
But you instead asked your supporters to wait till May 22 when the General Elections Commission (KPU) will announce the official result.
Yes, once again, be patient. We must wait for the official result.
Did you also tell the 25 world leaders, who congratulated you, to be patient?
(Laughs)...I just thanked them.
What measures have you taken to reconcile the public that have been bitterly divided over the presidential election?
We assigned Pak Luhut (Maritime Affairs Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan) to meet with Pak Prabowo. It is great if the meeting can take place and the public see it proving that friendly ties continue after the competition. After all, after the race, we are no longer the supporters of presidential candidates but Indonesia. I believe it is a good political education. But Pak Luhut has only spoken with Pak Prabowo via telephone at this stage.
Did you try to meet with Sandiaga Uno?
Well, we will try one by one. Pak Ma’ruf wants to see him.
So now you can only wait for Prabowo Sandi’s readiness?
The Prabowo-Sandiaga team said there is no need for reconciliation as they don’t believe there is division among the public.
If they think it’s not necessary, then we cannot meet, (laughing)...But we do wish to meet.
Why do you feel the meeting is important?
To cool the atmosphere after the heated elections. That’s a leader’s job. Not to inflame the already peaceful situation.
Read the full interview in Tempo English Magazine