Kornelius Purba, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta,Thursday January 29 2015
When my father died on Jan. 11, 1991, at the age of 69, he left his six children a strong political message: do not ever abandon the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI)! He was a staunch member of the Sukarno-inspired party. When my mother passed away on March 12, 2008, she also told us before her death: you should always be loyal to your father’s party!
Their message had been repeatedly conveyed to their in-laws and grandchildren. We have always obeyed their last wish, like millions of Indonesians in the grass roots who blindly support the party. But now we are asking ourselves: should we ignore our parents’ instruction, because they were probably wrong?
As my parents sometimes come visiting in my dreams, how should I tell my father that Sukarno’s daughter, Megawati Soekarnoputri, has shown her true character: a power-hungry politician, who apparently wants to make her protégé Joko “Jokowi” Widodo her puppet? My father would likely not believe his own son.
How should I describe Megawati to my mother, given that I regard Megawati now as a staunch supporter of corrupt people? My mother would cry, because she believed Megawati was a messiah for Indonesia and not a monster.
They believed Megawati would act like her father in creating a peaceful, prosperous and corruption-free nation, as they perceived Sukarno’s deeds. My parents were very excited when they heard that in my capacity as a journalist, I followed the political safari of Megawati to several cities in East Java after then president Soeharto allowed her to join the PDI in 1986. She was driven, if I am not mistaken, in a Mitsubishi Pajero with party chairman Suryadi.
Megawati was treated as the only possible savior for the nation by her supporters across the country, at least until Indonesia held its first democratic legislative elections in 1999.
Amid growing concerns that Megawati is now acting more like an iron-fisted empress than a stateswoman, should I answer my visiting parents’ smile and pretend that Indonesia has flourished because of Megawati’s role? I don’t think I would have the heart to tell them the truth: that Megawati’s role is crucial in the creation of corruption-haven Indonesia!
The stubborn and nearly shameless attitude of Megawati in pressing, if not forcing, President Jokowi to promote her former adjutant Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as the new National Police chief, even after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) declared him a graft suspect, was a very strong warning to the nation.
Megawati now is and will remain the most painful burden for the President, rather than Prabowo Subianto, his rival in last year’s presidential election, or the Red-and-White Coalition, which opposes the government.
It is very clear that the insistence of the chairperson (and de facto owner) of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) on Budi’s appointment was just the beginning of her determination to fully control Jokowi’s government.
But Megawati needs to remember that although it is true that Jokowi could not have become the country’s seventh president without her party’s support, it was the people who chose Jokowi as their leader in the presidential election, not just the PDI-P and its coalition partners such as the NasDem Party.
Megawati may think she inherited Indonesia from her father. The fact is, she is simply luckier than Myanmar’s opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of that nation’s founding father who will not likely become Myanmar’s leader any time soon.
Jokowi won the election because Indonesians had lost their trust in the current political leaders — including former president Megawati — and wanted him to enact positive changes. Megawati failed in two presidential elections in 2004 and 2009. She apparently intends for her daughter Puan Maharani to be her successor, but so far Puan has achieved little in Jokowi’s Cabinet.
Most of the 70,997,833 people who voted for Jokowi did not come from her party, which won just 23,681,471 votes in the April legislative election. Even when all votes for the Great Indonesia Coalition are counted, they total just 41,105,832 votes. That means Jokowi himself got 19,892,001 votes. Jokowi became president not because people loved Megawati so much; in fact, his victory had almost nothing to do with Megawati.
Jokowi should not betray the people’s mandate just because as a Javanese he finds it very hard to say “no” to Megawati and others, such as NasDem chairman Surya Paloh.
I believe — hopefully I’m totally wrong — that Megawati genuinely thinks that Indonesia would collapse without her. She has become a liability to her own people.
What if my parents asked me to talk to Megawati and demand that she make herself accountable to voters?
I am pretty sure that Megawati would repeat her remarks to the victims of bloody attacks against her die-hard supporters by forces loyal to Soeharto on July 27, 1996: “I never asked you to fight for me.” She might add, “Who asked you to vote for my party?”