The Jakarta Post
The chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Megawati Soekarnoputri, reaffirmed to the public on Wednesday that Jakarta Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo is 'the party's official', mandated to be a presidential candidate.
Speaking during the official declaration of an alliance consisting of the PDI-P, the NasDem Party and the National Awakening Party (PKB), Megawati said Jokowi could not act beyond the boundaries set out by the party.
'I made you [Jokowi] a presidential candidate. But you should remember that you are the party's official, with a function of implementing the party's programs and ideology,' former president Megawati said during the event, which was aired live by several television stations.
Megawati's remarks will likely fuel the widely held assumption among rival candidates that Megawati will remain superior to Jokowi if he wins the presidency.
The insinuation that Jokowi would become a 'controlled' leader was first made by presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto last month.
PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo was quick to clarify Megawati's statement, which may cement the perceived deficiency.
He said the term 'party official' was regularly used by the party to refer to all party members serving as public officials.
'It's a term used to refer to our politicians, who are serving as legislators, governors and president. They are tasked by the party,' he said.
In her written statement announcing Jokowi's candidacy in March, Megawati also referred to Jokowi as a 'party official'.
In another development, during the event, Megawati and NasDem Party chairman Surya Paloh refused to give the benefit of the doubt to the ability of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration to ensure a fair-and-square presidential election.
Megawati warned the administration to not abuse its authority by deploying the intelligence community in favoring certain candidates.
'The intelligence [community] should not meddle in the presidential election. The function of the intelligence is to protect the country, not to serve the interests of an individual,' she said.
She also warned the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Constitutional Court against bending any rules that might lead to the election being compromised.
Surya said in his speech that there were signs that the current administration had utilized state apparatus to defend its interests in the upcoming election.
'Do not jeopardize our democracy. The authorities should uphold fairness in this competition. If you are ready to compete then you should also have a big [enough] heart to accept defeat,' he said.
Several PDI-P politicians have complained about what they suspect to be an act of intelligence agencies, in which several unidentified men were seen regularly following Megawati and Jokowi's vehicles.
Jokowi revealed in February that his official residence and his office at City Hall had been bugged.
Three bugging devices were found in the governor's official residence ' in the dining room, living room and private parlor.
The National Intelligence Agency (BIN) has repeatedly denied allegations of spying on political parties, and has also pledged to uphold independency in the election.
During the declaration, PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar urged all Muslim communities to put their support behind Jokowi, on the back of perceptions that Jokowi and the PDI-P were not adequately accommodating the interest of Muslim voters.
'There are perceptions out there that Jokowi will not fight for the interests of us followers of Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) and others. I tell you all now that such beliefs are not true,' said Muhaimin, whose party is closely associated with the followers of NU, the country's largest Muslim organization, which is centered mostly in East Java.
Analysts have argued that Jokowi and the PDI-P are weak in their ability to woo support from Muslim communities, as the party is widely perceived to be home to non-Muslims and liberals.
Muhaimin's speech was seen as a major boost for Jokowi in garnering more votes from faithful Muslim followers.
According to a recent survey by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI), around 49.8 percent of Muslim respondents had no clear preference ahead of the presidential election, citing a lack of choices representing Islamic values.
Earlier this month, Jokowi began touring Islamic boarding schools in Java. On Thursday, he visited several iconic mosques and boarding schools, including the Edi Mancoro school in Semarang.