How Do You Solve A Problem Like Prabowo?

By N Mark Castro


We all know that the country is currently divided pending resolution on Prabowo’s expected legal challenge on the announcement of KPU declaring Jokowi as the 7th president of the Republic of Indonesia.

That said, what’s next for Prabowo?

Everything depends on how you can convert a loss or a crisis into your favor. In this case, Prabowo is actually in a strong position to become an elder statesman without even asking for it but, first, concede.

There is no loss of dignity in accepting the majority voice of the people. His 60 million voters are strong. He still enjoys the coalition parties that make up the majority of Congress.

With his military background, it’s not far-fetched that he be named Minister of Defense. With his international background, it won’t be surprising if he’s named Minister of Foreign Affairs.

His brother Hashim can even be named as Minister of Trade.

Imagine such a powerhouse cabinet!

joko-bowo-jokowi-prabowo-450x290So instead of dividing the nation further and being the favorite social-media entertainment of the country, it’s best to start the healing process and work with president-elect Joko Widodo.

1. Elder Statesman – Make no mistake. Just because Prabowo lost doesn’t mean he’s lost his vaunted power: financial, political, and societal. However, this could quickly disappear if he continues on the path of successive communications blunders that he — and his camp — has been making recently.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Prabowo has 6 coalition party members in Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR) or the House of Representatives, which is 353 of the 560 seats, or 63%.

Jokowi’s coalition comprises of 4 parties, led by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and has 207 seats, which makes them a minority.

Remember, no president in any democratic country can govern without Congress.

Prabowo’s camp had actually displayed their political muscle when they revised how DPR leadership is decided. Previously, it was an automatic transition granted to the dominant political party in DPR, spoils of the war so to speak, but now it will be an elective post among representatives and Prabowo has the numbers.

Moreover, Jokowi’s administration will need clearance and collaboration with Prabowo’s camp in DPR every time they want to sneeze, unless they want Jokowi’s presidential plans derailed because of congressional intervention.

Do it the Bakrie way!


Until recently, Aburizal Bakrie was the most powerful NON-ELECTED politician in the country. He managed to kick out former finance minister and reformist Sri Mulyani not just out of the cabinet but out of the country. Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) fell flat on his commendable move to cut off the fuel subsidy when Bakrie’s Golkar Party turned around at the last minute not to support it. This happened on SBY’s 2nd term, when he had a convincing and majority win.

That’s how powerful Bakrie is as chair of the Golkar Party. Naturally, Bakrie’s partymates smell blood in the water and are now out for his chairmanship seat since they lost in the presidential elections trying to support Prabowo. Worse, he failed to coalesce earlier to gain tractable momentum in leveraging their positions. He allegedly demanded too early with Jokowi’s camp and gambled heavily on Golkar’s chances.

He has dictated Golkar Party for far too long and a new leadership would soon be imminent. Of course, partymates would still welcome Bakrie …

revenge2. Minister of Defense – No one doubts Prabowo’s military career. It’s been said he’s a better military officer compared to another former military man, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. With his tactical military skills in once leading the dreaded but legendary Kopassus, Prabowo can easily become the tough face of Indonesia’s military might. That he’s been accused of human rights violations is a separate story altogether. Some quarters may even accuse him of his infamous temperament. So what? At least he’s directing it towards extremists wanting to exploit the moderate Islamic practice of Indonesia.

Let’s see if they would dare bomb anything under his watch.

Actually, I dare FPI to raid something while Prabowo is the Minister of Defense.

I double dare you.


3. Minister of Foreign Affairs – With Prabowo’s vast foreign education, Western-exposure, and impeccable knowledge of international affairs, he’s certainly qualified to deal with foreign countries and foreign investors. Since peacekeeping mission is a guaranteed obligation of Indonesians to the world as declared in the Constitution, Prabowo can easily divert his military skills into such efforts. He is well adept in English. He is firm once he submits a position and he can advance Indonesia’s foreign affairs.


4. Minister of Trade – As a bonus and to show the strength of the Prabowo camp, his very own brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, can be appointed as the Minister of Trade, after all, he’s a highly qualified entrepreneur who has quietly earned his wealth in the oil & gas and mining industries and has supported his brother’s political career. He’s been listed by Forbes magazine as among the richest men in the country, with rankings both in Asia and the world. He knows the problems hounding corporate owners, foreign investors, manpower challenges, and seeking new domestic and international opportunities for the country, to name a few.

I have heard the man speak several times and though his economic policies may sound ambitious and painful, it is definitely the right and tough choices to make towards elevating Indonesia’s economic status.

hashim-djojohadikusumoMake no mistake, people, despite our online criticisms of the communication strategy blunders made by the Prabowo camp, they are as qualified and highly educated as anyone, and have the same intentions as president-elect Joko Widodo in leading Indonesia to a brighter future.

Instead of depicting them as enemies that could derail the economic progress and political stability of Indonesia, they should be embraced as elders with great insights in helping the country.

You may disagree with them. You may not believe in them. You may not even like them.

What you can never do is ignore them …

Not with over 60 million voters that can help you preside over a vast and diverse country as the Republic of Indonesia with her 17,000 prestigious islands.

Now that the elections are over, embrace everyone.

That’s how you lead a nation.



About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on July 25, 2014, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. How do you lead someone who refuses to recognize your leadership???

    • As posited in the first few paragraphs:

      “…but, first, concede.”

      Nation building requires healing but first he must recognize the voice of the people if he wishes to be included in becoming a part of it.

      The potential scenarios are premised on his acceptance of Jokowi’s mandate to lead the nation.

  2. Anyone with malicious intentions to spew lies for selfish gains shouldn’t be given any positions with power, regardless of their self-announced intelligence.

    • That’s where their negotiations come in.

      In the end, you have a choice whether or not you want to disenfranchise 60 million voters of the Prabowo camp that can provide a headache in your governance and, worse, derail your legislative initiatives because they still have the numbers.

      Didn’t PDI-P just lost the chairmanship of the house simply because of a majority decision of the coalition of Prabowo?

      Scenarios posted are available to the Prabowo camp if the decide to leverage their power or work with the government. Remember, this is still politics, where there are never permanent enemies.

      It’s up to the incoming administration to mitigate their problems in the political arena as there are real problems that need to be addressed in governance, finance, education, among others.

      Can you imagine governing while left and right your congress isn’t with you, there are continuing protests on election, while 60 million people do t believe you because they have been fed with propaganda.

      True nation building is inclusive and not exclusive, especially in a country where loyalty matters above all else.

      It’s up to the Jokowi Administration how to decide on their governance and leasen problems. That’s their job. This post provided a glimpse of how the Prabowo camp can leverage their existing influence and power in a constructive way rather than obstruct Jokowi.

      As reiterated, you may not like them, you may not believe them, you may even hate them … But with 60 million voters and a whole lot of money, what you can never do is ignore them.

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