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Jakarta Post

Prabowo grandstands in his party'€™s military-style rally

  • Margareth S. Aritonang

Posted: Mon, March 24 2014 | 09:17 am

Eyes on a higher post: Gerindra Party leader and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto rides a horse during an election campaign event at Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Sunday. AP/Tatan Syuflana

Prabowo Subianto, the chief patron of the Gerindra Party, sent a clear message on Sunday regarding his ambition to nationalize foreign assets in addition to attacking the credentials of his main rival in the presidential election.

In an event at the Bung Karno Sports Center in Central Jakarta, Prabowo showed party members who was boss by making them wait hours just to witness his dramatic entrance into Gerindra'€™s military-style open air campaign.

The gathering, which kicked off at 9 a.m. initially appeared as a regular outdoor campaign with a female dangdut singer gyrating on stage to energize the crowd, which had packed the stadium by noon.

For several hours the campaign announcer repeatedly called on the crowd to clear the stadium'€™s center field to prepare for Prabowo'€™s arrival. Finally at around 1 p.m. his helicopter began its descent toward the stadium.

In order to energize the tired Gerindra supporters who had to endure another delay, as Prabowo'€™s chopper had to land outside the stadium, singer Djamal Mirdad, who is also a legislative candidate from Gerindra, entertained the crowd with his popular songs from the 1980s such as '€œSuka-suka'€ ( As You Like It ).

At the end of the song Prabowo made his long-awaited entrance in an open-top jeep, standing and waving to the swelling crowd.

At the end of his lap around the stadium, Prabowo mounted a horse and examined the red-hatted ceremonial troops, which was followed by a brief demonstration of his horse-riding skills with another lap around the stadium before finally delivering his speech.

Speaking through a vintage microphone, a replica of the ones used by the country'€™s founding fathers pictured in history books, Prabowo delivered jabs to some of his political opponents throughout his speech.

'€œ['€¦] Democracy means that the people rule. But, what is happening in Indonesia now is kleptocracy. Klepto means thief, while cracy is derived from the Greek word for power, kratos. Kleptocracy thus means that the republic is being ruled by thieves,'€ Prabowo said in his opening lines.

He later told party supporters in the stadium to use their right to vote in both the legislative and presidential elections, before he laid out his nationalist vision for the country, which in his opinion, was being controlled by foreign countries due to its rich natural resources.

Prabowo pledged that he would take over assets controlled by foreign entities if he was elected president.

'€œ['€¦] Today, Gerindra hereby declares that Indonesia is not for sale. We will no longer allow them to undermine this nation. We want change. And Gerindra is ready to lead the country toward that goal,'€ Prabowo said.

He further called for support from the audience to help him win the presidential election on July 9.

'€œYou have to work extremely hard in the remaining 16 days before the [legislative] election to ensure your neighbors and loved ones make the right choice [in the election]. Tell them that the country is in crisis. Tell them to not let Indonesia continue to be sold [to other countries],'€ Prabowo said.

Prabowo also directed a thinly veiled attack toward Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo of the PDI-P for his decision to run as the party'€™s presidential candidate.

Prabowo delivered the criticism in what he called Pantun, a traditional Malay-style poem.

'€œ['€¦] You can lie as long as you do it politely. You can cheat as long as you do it politely. You can be corrupt as long as you do it politely. You can break your promises as long as you do it politely. You can sell this country as long as you do it politely,'€ he said, in the couplets that apparently did not rhyme very well.

After wrapping up his speech, Prabowo stepped down from the podium before being carried on the shoulders of his personal bodyguard to greet his supporters while party executives sang and danced to a dangdut song promoting Prabowo'€™s presidential bid.

'€œFadli Zon, now it'€™s your turn to sing!'€ Prabowo ordered the party'€™s deputy chairman, toward the end of the song.

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