🇮🇩 The home stretch now

Jokowi hosts the biggest party in town

Hello friends!

Almost there! Quiet campaign time, all that’s left is the TNI-Polri banners calling for a safe pesta demokrasi.

There’s loads of ‘what to expect’ / ‘how it goes’ pieces floating around so I probably won’t do another blast until Wednesday evening. We should have an idea fairly early I think given how polling is looking, but I expect a bit of argy-bargy particularly after this Malaysia news.

And of course, SkinnyIndonesian’s rematch rap battle is out. His budget is much bigger than 2014! It’s weirdly catchy too. Jokowijokowijokowijokowijokowi pasti kerja. The Prabowo bit too. And there’s a very familiar feature. Omg, he just killed this.

Stay safe out there and see you Wednesday!
Erin Cook

Okay, first: mea culpa. I didn’t go to the Prabowo rally. A few reasons, the big one being that I’ve been to rallies with some of those groups before and usually it’s fine but when it’s bad vibes it’s bad vibes. Secondly, it freaking started before dawn. I’m too old to be out that late but too young to be up that early.

I did go to the Jokowi one on Saturday though. It’s an exciting day of walking around a lot, meeting cute babies and listening to everyone say ‘just here to get some colour’ over and over. I worked in politics back home and I used to think some of those events were real big and exciting. I thought standing room only in Moonee Ponds for Gillard was a stunner — and then I spent an hour crushed between pals and strangers waiting for Pak Presiden himself.

Here is a list of my thoughts: holy smokes, that is some lax security. The Indomaret trucks are so cute! Most young men were there specifically for Slank, not Jokowi. Indonesia loves a drone. A young bloke climbed up the side of stage right to the top to fly an Indonesian flag to absolute rapturous applause but his quick race down almost killed my heart I was so stressed. A lot less PSI paraphernalia than I’d expect and a lot more Hanura. I don’t know how many people were there but it was at least three times the One Direction show I went to there a few years back.


Aduuuh. This is the last thing the Jokowi camp needs. KPU and Bawaslu reps headed to Selangor Friday after their counterparts in Malaysia reported the finding of marked ballots. The ballots were pro-Jokowi and coalition party Nasdem. Malaysian police have teamed up with Polri to investigate but have already confirmed no Malaysian laws have been violated. We stan an Asean that works together to ensure the robustness of electoral institutions.

This is still under investigation and I guess we should learn more later today. For now though, the Jakarta Post writes in an op-ed, don’t let it deter you from the polls if you’re eligible.


We won’t get into the debate on account of I didn’t care about it. I did CACKLE at the fresh Democratic Party beef though. Prabowo says Indonesia’s economy is weak but: “I don’t blame you [Jokowi]. This is a big mistake of presidents before you. That’s my opinion.” Well, uh, you mean the decade of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono then?


Kate Lamb at the Guardian got the hottest ticket in town — a foreign media one-on-one with Prabowo. How did it go? Well, she’s confirmed legend status now. “Don’t come and teach me democracy! Don’t teach me politics of identity, I know! I was a commander, I had Christian soldiers, Hindu soldiers, die under my command. You think I am going to betray them?”


Friend of the Letter Resty Woro Yuniar and her gang at SCMP joined Prabowo’s running mate Sandiaga Uno in Lampung for a sit-down. When it comes to China investment I’m not really sure how his take is too different from the incumbent, tbh. I don’t know what he’s on about when it comes to Indonesia’s far right and far left though. Oh, Sandi. Get used to his face.


So much of this on former Poso jihadist Yono running for the legislative assembly with the Tommy Suharto Berkarya Party is quotable. ‘When asked why he joined a party formed by a member of the Soeharto family rather than one represented by a reformist figure, he retorts: “Who are the reformists today? Surya Paloh? Amien Rais? Or Ibu Mega [Megawati Soekarnoputri] and SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono]?” For Yono, Tommy Soeharto is no different to the other party leaders of the reform era.’ There’s a lot to unwind here but I want to do it properly so jog on.


Eha Soleha is running for the PPP. I don’t know if she’ll win the vote but she won my freaking heart!!! This is so moving to me and I don’t know what her personal views and things are and don’t razz me if she says something bad, but this is really exciting. Also don’t razz me about women being run lower down on the ticket. Semoga sukses to Eha Soleha and all candidates who truly represent their community.


A gender reckoning is coming. ‘The new challenge for feminists is located in the rise of a religiously conservative women’s movement, which works to actively challenge feminism from within the system.’


There was a lot of scoffing at Prabowo’s claims to be ‘more TNI than the TNI’ (Indonesia’s military) during the fourth debate. It struck me as a bonkers thing to say regardless, but I am not a military kinda gal. Thankfully, Evan Laksmana is a military kinda scholar and has us here at NYT. He lays out the case simply that a potential Prabowo win could promote the role of the military in public life we haven’t seen post-Reformasi. But, it’s not going to be cruisy under Jokowi either, he adds. Jokowi’s closest advisors are former military and he does not have the capacity to exert much control. I’ve heard some other takes on why a Prabowo win could be chaotic to the TNI but that’s a real spicy one, so consider this a cute side-eye and if you know more please email me back.


Let’s follow this one up with Friend of the Letter Febriana Firdaus who looked at the TNI for Al Jazeera. Her angle is more what the organisation wants than the politics of Our Candidates. This is the perfect story to get across the different threads and you could totally do the Homeland-sticking-things-to-the-wall thing with it because it gets complicated.


This ‘Chinese workers are stealing our jobs’ thing isn’t going anywhere. We’ve talked about it here before, but this from the sorely missed Rebecca Henschke at BBC is the perfect resource. While Chinese workers make up a relatively teeny-tiny portion of the workforce, it is the largest faction of foreign workers and growing quickly.


Let’s strengthen these institutions! This one in NAR from Vikram Nehru I think says what no party or candidate can or will say because it’s hardly a winner: “Such fundamental shortcomings cannot be fixed in a single five-year presidential term. The reality is that complex, interdependent and competent institutional systems take time to build and secure. The forces protecting the status quo are powerful and well entrenched. They will not be budged easily. Only cumulative progress through small, incremental improvements, over decades, will result in fundamental transformation.” How do you fit that on a t-shirt?