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Hasto Kristiyanto: Some Want the PDI-P to be More Islamic
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto. Tempo/Egi Adyatama
Tuesday, 09 January, 2018 | 14:30 WIB
Hasto Kristiyanto: Some Want the PDI-P to be More Islamic

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Hasto Kristiyanto has been much busier in the past few days ahead of the registration for governor and deputy governor candidates in the 2018 simultaneous regional heads elections. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) secretary-general has had to go from one place to the next to meet with, among others, President Joko Widodo at the Bogor Palace in West Java, the management teams of other parties, Muslim leaders, not to mention doing his own media safari tour. 

Hasto explained why his party opted to back candidates who are likely to win. He also responded to attacks against his party's election candidates, such as the moral issue leveled against East Java deputy governor candidate Abdullah Azwar Anas, and the suspected involvement of Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo in the electronic ID card (e-KTP) corruption case. "We proposed them and we take responsibility," said Hasto, 51.

He also spoke bluntly about the 2019 presidential election, a likely vice-presidential candidate, and on who will one day continue the work of Megawati Soekarnoputri at the pinnacle of the PDI-P party's leadership. "When it concerns leadership, the hand of the Almighty will be at work," said Hasto, who began his political career in the PDI-P in 1999.

Last Friday, Hasto called in at Tempo's headquarters in Palmerah, Jakarta, accompanied by the party's Central Management Board chair Djarot Saiful Hidayat, Andreas Hugo Pareira, as well as Putra Nababan from PDI-P's communications team, among others. Their two-hour discussion was followed by an additional interview by Tempo reporter Angelina Anjar Sawitri on the group's journey back to the PDI-P Board office in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Of the 171 regions holding regional head elections this year, how many are you targeting for victory?

Only after the General Elections Commission announces candidate pairings can we then map it out. Of course we do have a target, but we must consider changing conditions, other candidates, etc.

What lessons has the PDI-P learned from its 44 defeats in the 2017 simultaneous regional elections?

In the recent elections, our basic capital was admittedly not that great compared to the 2015 elections. From there we looked at the overall wins and losses as a benchmark. We noted that some cadres did become regional heads. In comparison to the previous term, the number of PDI-P members elected as regional heads rose significantly, from 211 to 256.

But the PDI-P lost in several strategic regions, for instance in Jakarta and Banten.

That's not a problem. In politics, does one always have to win? Even if you lose, it's only for five years, right? We can consolidate and participate in the next regional head elections. The capacity to compete must be demonstrated in one's work, not simply in victories. In Jakarta, the people can evaluate how well Basuki Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat performed their work in comparison to Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno.

How does one go about comparing them? 

Even in terms of staff, Ahok-Djarot was more competent. They didn't need a large staff because they had truly prepared their people. They didn't need to burden the regional budget by adding too many people in their staff. So their victory should not be measured merely at the ballot box. Their win will be time-tested. In five years, we'll see whether it's their leadership that resulted in a better performance (of Jakarta's regional government).

Why were you defeated in Banten?

We lost because of our political beliefs, because of how we were pushing for a clean leadership. We didn't want to back a candidate who was already named suspect. In Banten, we didn't want to support Atut's family. Of eight regencies, we won in six. We lost in the two others because we didn't want to get into money politics.

Including getting ‘dowries'?

I do understand that we need money, which is why we drafted regulations for the party. We wrote that candidates need to make a contribution. One example is in Polewali Mandar, West Sulawesi. I calculated that we would need Rp5 billion to win the regent position. I asked the candidate, how much money do you have? He said he had Rp1 billion. So we blocked out that Rp1 billion. That wasn't a deposit, you understand. It was to ensure we would have the funds to pay our witnesses and so on. We collected the remaining Rp4 billion by helping each other and by suppressing costs as much as possible. The problem is that people are still concerned about taxes, and object to announcing their contribution. But we've prepared a mechanism for this. There's a public accountant who does the audit.

Why does the PDI-P continue to support Ganjar Pranowo in running for Central Java governor, when he is suspected of involvement in the e-KTP corruption case?

We have the greatest respect for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). If Pak Ganjar indeed strayed, he would now be enjoying a lavish lifestyle. It's possible that some House of Representatives (DPR) members did accept ‘envelopes' when they had to travel. We still believe in a room for tolerance. He's a good leader. The public's perception is positive. He has even received an award from the KPK. So we're still giving Pak Ganjar a chance to hold office. Unless he's named a suspect. Anyone caught red-handed in a KPK operation will be fired. If a potential candidate is corrupt, we will not give our support. Including official suspects. So Pak Ganjar still has priority. The issue of winning or losing because of that affair, it's part of the risk that the party takes.

Is it true that Puan Maharani asked Ganjar not to pair with his current deputy Heru Sudjatmoko?

One may call it ‘input'. But it's not just Mbak Puan. Even I want someone else for deputy. I said to Pak Ganjar, "Jar, don't take him as your deputy. We're under attack."

A deputy governor from the Muslim camp?

There are some who want the PDI-P to be more Islamic. People who attack us say that the PDI-P is not Islamic enough. This is why I need the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the United Development Party (PPP). Like it or not, winning does require some political bargaining. Mbak Puan was only voicing the public's wishes. Kiai Said (Aqil Siroj, Nahdlatul Ulama [NU] General Chair) and Kiai Ma'ruf (Amin, chair of the Indonesian Ulama Council/MUI) called and said, "It would be better to join the PKB and NU. Abang-ijo (the PDI-P and the Islamic parties coalition) would be ‘cooler' because we're currently facing an attack (by intolerant groups)." Even the NU is uneasy, let alone the PDI-P.

Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine.

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