TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Abdee Negara, 46, from the rock group Slank, turns out to be more than just a good guitarist. It seems he has a talent for mobilizing masses. Together with a number of his associates just days before the July 9 presidential election, he organized the 'Two-Finger Salute for Victory' concert at Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. "People were worried Jokowi could lose the election," said Abdee, offering his reason for hosting the event that is now being attributed as the reason for Joko Widodo's surge of popularity and his eventual victory.
How did you end up being a volunteer involved in political movements?
Musicians are volunteers by nature and they have the capacity to really see what is going on in their environment. Perhaps it's our trained sensitivity. I noticed that people were complaining but very little was being done. From that point I decided to volunteer.
Was that how the 'Two-Finger Salute' concert came about?
It all began with the objective to ensure that the Jokowi-JK ticket won. But trends showed a likelihood of their losing. There were 200 groups of volunteers involved, but only 115 of them really worked to make it all come together.
When you decided to support Jokowi, were any of the other Slank members upset?
Not at all. In fact, we discussed about the right way of supporting Jokowi.
But Slank is usually known for being apolitical. Were there no protests from your fans?
We were asked not to be involved in politics; we usually avoid it. But we must know about politics in order to keep from being depoliticized. I used to think of staying far away from politics, but because of that I don't quite understand politics. What if someone later approaches me for some political interest? But other Slank members did not question my support of Jokowi.
What did you do about the fans who disapproved of your declaration to support Jokowi?
We just ignored them. They're free to choose, Jokowi or not. Slank opted for Jokowi, but Slankers are free to choose whomever they wanted. It's their right.
What happened then?
After we declared our intention to support Jokowi, there was active discussion on whey we supported Jokowi. They wrote comments and offered all kinds of theories. Eventually, they went along and joined our stance. What they said was: Slankers support Slank's choice of Jokowi. That declaration came from 150 cities.
What did you do to mobilize other volunteers to join the 'Two-Finger Salute' concert.
We asked fellow volunteers to move like guerrillas and get others to join our cause, including Slank fans. They were all kinds of people: housewives, professionals and so forth. But none among them had professional backgrounds like us, especially in organizing concerts.
Are you still a Jokowi volunteer?
We are now back to normal. All our associates, other volunteers who took an active part have also gone back. But there seems to be a sense of responsibility about ensuring that Jokowi do the right thing because we went all out to support him. Some people feel the task of volunteers only goes so far as to escort him [to his victory] and to oversee him. It's good for the government if the public takes part.
Would you be interested in joining the government?
No need. We did a simple thing. If the government today tells us to throw out the garbage, we will do so. (*)