The Rise of Nusantara (Part 4)

Mahathir and Jokowi were seen laughing together as answering the press.

As I am writing this entry, the results of the Indonesian Presidential Election has just been announced by the KPU. Joko Widodo, or popularly known as Jokowi has been given another mandate to lead over 260 million Indonesian citizens for the second time.

Honestly, I am delighted to receive this good news. Bapak Jokowi, in my opinion, has the caliber to be a good leader at least for the Indonesian people. At the same time, the New Malaysian foreign policy is actively promoting “Prosper Thy Neighbour” slogan, so regardless whoever wins the election in this populous Muslim nation on earth, we Malaysian, would still remain as the closest friend of Indonesia, as we are from the same root.


This picture of Jokowi who was seen crying during his final speech in front of his supporters before the election day could probably be the real turning point. The videos and pictures of him went viral and turned the tides towards his direction.


Before the election day, I watched the final presidential debate between the two contesting participants for the Indonesian top post. I spectated the live telecast co-hosted by the mainstream media giants in Indonesia, the CNN, and Metro TV with great enthusiasm and interests. Although the debate was not that heated up as expected, the candidates presented their aspirations boldly without conflicts. Probably, at that moment, both sides seemed to have strong confidence that they were going to win the election.

At that time, I had hoped to see some changes in the trend, probably the turning point which can give Bapak Jokowi a chance to turn the tide towards his direction. I could see what was happening after he gave his final public speech in front of his supporters at the Bung Karno stadium days before the election. I could see that at that time, Bapak Jokowi could have a chance to win, provided that the “silent majority” was able to understand the real politics in Indonesia and at the international stage. It is not personal, but this is for some strategic reasons.


Malaysia is considered as a small-brother to Indonesia, similar to Singapore and Brunei. Hence, what happens to one side, will somehow impact the other hand, be it in socio-economy, politics, security, or even cultural sensitivity. That is why leaders from both countries are always in close contacts regardless of any issue, especially the problems related to religious sensitivity and also the economy.


For us to understand the psychological mantra of the Nusantara people, we have to follow the sentiment of “anti-colonialism,” which Prabowo-Sandi camp has successfully brought its attention to the majority of rural and conservative voters. They made the public believe that Indonesia is still under the influence of “foreign powers” (though they did not specifically name the foreign powers).

The hopefuls at that time, in my opinion, had won the war of perception and hence it was more than a mere pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia by Bapak Jokowi before the election day. With the gesture and blessing of the Saudi Arabian King, he had already won some international allies’ support and also from some of the locals. That means, Bapak Jokowi also understands the necessity to gain the trusts from conservative supporters to back his presidency, or otherwise, Indonesian politics will be imbalanced and crumble. The moderate Muslim votes had already been secured, but he had to do something so that he could be seen “as religious” as possible because Indonesia is a Muslim majority country and the most populous Muslim nation in the world.


Jokowi and Erdogan
It has been reported by the media that one of the leaders who immediately congratulated Jokowi when the news of his triumphant in the election results was Erdogan of Turkey. Other leaders who did the same were Tun Dr. Mahathir, Emir of Qatar and President of the United States of America.


It is already evident by then that the Jokowi-Maaruf team has managed to polish Bapak Jokowi’s image as a very highly respected leader in the Muslim World. This is because they said that he received the invitation to perform the umrah directly from the elites of Saudi. At that time, most people must have assumed that Jokowi was sincere to seek God’s blessings before the most crucial day in Indonesia’s history which perhaps could even change the course of the world’s future. What was more important is to manage people’s perception, and that was what he did.

Bapak Jokowi had no choice but to win. Almost all Muslim leaders have the same rule of thumbs, which can be used from their “book of politics” or “manual” to survive. It becomes more critical when you were accused of something (that is) very damaging, with all of the negative campaigns from the opposition blocks. That could always be the last-ditch effort to salvage the support of the masses, by visiting the holy cities of Mekah and Madinah.


jokowi tinjau
This picture shows Jokowi scouting the proposed sites for the new capital of Indonesia, or should we say, the administrative capital of Jakarta. This concept is similar to Putrajaya when it was first mooted by Tun Dr. Mahathir before the 1992 general election. It is not surprising for Indonesia to follow the footsteps of Malaysia, as the country is now ready to jump forward, with a stable economy and democracy as its foundation.


As an example, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia had also visited Saudi Arabia before he was “miraculously defeated” by the people of Malaysia in the last 14th General Election. It is actually not so big deal for the 190 million voters of Indonesia to decide for a similar result during a PILPRES, because Indonesian Muslims are from the Shafie school of thoughts and prefer to be independent in their conduct of religion. However, as we could see, in the case of Indonesia, Jokowi had successfully escaped from the possible defeat and moving towards becoming the “Father of modern Indonesia“! I bet that Tun Dr. Mahathir is smiling when the news of Jokowi winning the election reaches Putrajaya, as now Indonesia is on the right track to be prosperous, God Willing, and meeting the standard which Malaysia has set, in it’s long-term “Prosper Thy Neighbour” philosophy.

Let’s be fair to the Indonesian President Jokowi! He has done quite many mega projects which have benefited specific segments of middle-income Indonesians. He has also brought the prestigious Asian Games to their soil and brought up the economy of Indonesia from a “fail-state” in 1998 towards a more democratic and open society.

The only reason I put my bet on Prabowo-Sandi in my previous entries was that I wanted to see the changes in Jokowi’s camp. They had to do something to win, and one of the things they must do was by collaborating with the moderate scholars.

Jokowi must be independent (from any foreign influences), become more critical to international issues impacting the Muslim ummah and able to champion some common issues beyond the boundary of Indonesia or the Nusantara world. Indonesia must see a much stronger Jokowi to lead the region, with New Malaysia as her excellent neighbor, to begin his second term as President.

With stronger Indonesia and Malaysia, the South East Asian region can have a much better chance to balance the influence of certain emerging economic giants within the area such as China and India. It is challenging to produce great leaders but after rising from a great challenge, small-minded person could possibly turn himself or herself as a hero, like David versus Goliath and the story of Sang Kancil who kicked a hunting-dog into the river, which had made the legendary Malay King naming a small village near Sungai Melaka as Malacca after that miraculous event. Then, the mighty trading Empire emerged and withstood the tests of time until today.


Mainstream media in Indonesia used this picture when they reported the congratulation message which was made by Tun Dr. Mahathir to Bapak Jokowi after the official results were announced by KPU on the 21st May 2019. Regardless whether it is true that this picture of Tun M giving a quick call to President Joko Widodo, the Prime Minister of Malaysia is well-known for his close communication with world leaders either via phone or hand-written letters.


The rise of Nusantara is inevitable. Regardless of the results of any elections at any country within this region. Nusantara is not only about the Malays or Muslims, but the population of South East Asian region, which can be mistakenly seen as weak and incapable, but with modern technology and swift flexibility as their strengths, this region is set to rise and become the dominant market in the future.

Once again, I now take this opportunity to wish all of my Muslim readers from Indonesia, a Ramadhan Al Kareem, and Eid Mubarak. Congratulations!