Prabowo revives friendship with Megawati for national unity

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A meeting between Megawati and Prabowo held in Teuku Umar on Wednesday, July 24. (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Jakarta – Following his meeting with President-Elect Joko Widodo, Great Indonesia Movement (Gerakan Indonesia Raya – “Gerindra”) Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto met with the General Chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”) Megawati Soekarnoputri at her residence, Jl Teuku Umar, Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday, 24/07/2019. The meeting between the two national figures was a simple social visit, and did not touch on the subject of distribution of seats as rumored. Jokowi, originally planned to attend as well, was absent because he had to receive the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, also the Highest Vice Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who visited Indonesia on the same day.

Prabowo attended the   social visit accompanied by Gerindra Party General Secretary Ahmad Muzani and Gerindra Party Vice General Chairman Edhy Prabowo. Mega and her children, Puan Maharani and Prananda Prabowo, welcomed them personally. PDIP General Secretary Hasto Kristiyanto, PDIP functionary Pramono Anung, and Chief of the National Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara – “BIN”) Budi Gunawan were also present. After a brief talk, Prabowo then went further into Megawati’s residence for a special lunch that she has prepared for everyone. “Our General Chairwoman has especially prepared everything to welcome Mr. Prabowo. The meeting was held in the spirit of brotherhood and with the long history between Ms. Megawati and Mr. Prabowo,” Hasto said.

After the two friends had lunch and cought up with each other for two hours, Mega walked Prabowo back out to the terrace to meet the press. At this opportunity, Prabowo stated that his visit is a familial visit. He praised Megawati for remembering her promise to cook him her special fried rice that he loves. “It was a great, I actually had second helpings. Ibu Mega had to remind me that I need to go on a diet,” he said.

Prabowo further stated that the meeting serves as a means to rekindle the old friendship they share between them. He expressed his appreciation of how Megawati always treates him properly and respectfully. “We may take different political stance at times, but we are both patriots. For us, it is NKRI – The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. Any difference is nothing unusual – we seek to maintain the ties of brotherhood and harmonious relations between us. This would help us resolve national problems,” he said. “Thank you for the fried rice Ibu. We wait for your visit to us in Hambalang,” he said.

As a response to Prabowo’s gesture, Megawati stated that the meeting should have been held earlier. However, due to her activities in preparing for the Elections and for the upcoming PDIP Congress in the coming 8-11 of August, she could not spare time to meet with Prabowo until now. She was glad that Prabowo loved her fried rice, and joked that “fried rice politics” is especially successful against male politicians. “He kept on badgering me about my fried rice, because it is very delicious. Anyone else who eats my fried rice also said the same,” she smiled.

Similarly with Prabowo, Megawati also stated that difference of opinion between friends is nothing unusual. However, with the end of the Presidential Elections, such differences must end. “Why continue? We go back together; we maintain our friendship for the sake of the country and nation. We can perform our discussion any time you want; just come visit me,” she said.

Megawati further stated that if Prabowo wishes to meet again with President Joko Widodo, he can inform her about it. “If he wants to meet the President, naturally I would love to bring any message that he wishes. However, I think that if he wants to talk directly to Mr. Jokowi, he would accommodate the request for sure,” she said. “There is no formal position of Government coalition and opposition in Indonesia. Furthermore, dialog is necessary for us to be able to develop the nation in the future. However, issues about the future direction of the Government must be decided by the President-Elect, because it is his prerogative.”

Ujang Komarudin, Al-Azhar University Indonesia’s Political Observer, sees Prabowo and Mega’s meeting as something positive, as it denotes the existence of good relations between two great figures of the nation. They have been on opposite sides of the fence during the Presidential Elections, and now we see how they maintain good relations. They naturally reunited for a greater interest: the interest of the Unitary Nation of the Republic of Indonesia (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia – “NKRI”) – in the interest of unity and brotherhood. “They were close friends ever since the day they ran as Presidential Candidate Pair together. This closeness would make it easier for them to be sociable and to share with each other. This meeting was of course held for the sake of a better Indonesia. After all, the Presidential Elections are over. The important thing is for the elites to unite, as this encourages the people to unite as well,” he said. 

Ujang believes that their meeting was mostly for social purposes, with a bit of political lobbying mixed in. This is natural, because they are national figures and they might discuss power sharing. “Power sharing is not exactly prohibited – it is something ordinary in politics. This is why the Chairman of the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional – “PAN”)’s Honorary Council Amien Rais mentioned a 55%-45% share of votes in relation to Jokowi and Prabowo’s reconciliation. This is not an issue in the context of political theory, as long as it is mutually agreed between the parties,” he said.

He further stated that just about all democratic countries practice power-sharing in one way or another. For example, when Barack Obama competed with Hillary Clinton in America and Hillary lost, he then appointed her as Secretary of State. “This is an example of political power sharing and reconciliation in a foreign country. As long as it is done to maintain the ties of brotherhood and unity, as long as it is in the interest of the nation instead of the interest of a specific party or group, it is valid,” he said.

Ujang is quite sure that it is the direction they would eventually head to, because Prabowo’s recent meeting with Jokowi is a gateway towards reconciliation. However, the route towards reconciliation has many stops. Jokowi’s coalition parties must be approached for that purpose. Megawati is the most senior of the Party General Chairmen in Jokowi’s coalition. Therefore, it is entirely correct that Prabowo should visit Mega. Other than their old friendship, this is the most direct line of political communication for reconciliation in the future. (Dan, Eka)