Son's presence brings out Prabowo's fatherly side
Margareth S. Aritonang
The Jakarta Post
After years of refraining from publicly talking about his only son Didit Hediprasetyo, presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto publicly and proudly embraced his internationally-renowned designer son after contender Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo mentioned the development of creative industries as part of his economic program during a televised debate last Sunday.
The defensive nature of the struggle between Jokowi and Prabowo was apparent during the debate, with one trying to corner the other, until Jokowi of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)-led coalition, in response to Prabowo's view on the creative economy, criticized the government's lack of support for creative industries, which involve many young Indonesian people.
'In regard to the creative economy, my only son is working in that industry. He is a globally known designer. Thus I support your ideas on the matter,' Prabowo, a former commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) said in a choked voice as he touched on Jokowi's plan to further develop creative industries.
Prabowo said he was defying the instructions of his own advisors to never express any agreement for anything Jokowi said during the debate, but he could not resist the temptation to agree when the non-active Jakarta governor talked about the subject.
Before stating his response, Prabowo was seen nodding frequently during Jokowi's presentation on the matter while occasionally gazing out at his supporters, seated among whom were his son Didit and his former wife Siti 'Titiek' Hediati Hariyadi, the daughter of former president Soeharto.
'I've chosen not to listen to my advisors. I agree with Joko Widodo,' said Prabowo with a broad grin.
Unlike Jokowi who has frequently brought his wife Iriana and their two children along during campaign events, the debate last Sunday may well have been the first occasion when Didit and Titiek, a Golkar politician, have publicly appeared together to show their support for Prabowo.
Prabowo's son Didit is a designer residing in Paris. Although not so popular as a designer in this country, Didit, who graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York and later studied in Paris, has earned a respected place among designers overseas.
German car producer BMW selected him as one of the designers of the interior of the ultra-exclusive BMW Individual Series 7, of which only five models were produced worldwide.
During a break in the debate on Sunday Prabowo was seen to approach Didit and Titiek on the sidelines of the debate and warmly embrace both.
Didit gave only very brief answers when journalists asked him about his relationship with his father and the possibility of his parents reuniting.
'It has been in the form of prayers and encouragement,' Didit replied when asked about his father's support for his career.
'No,' was the one-word reply he uttered when reporters asked whether he was interested in becoming a politician like his retired-general father.
Some observers have interpreted Titiek's appearance alongside Prabowo as a sign that they might reunite as husband and wife. They were reportedly divorced not long after Soeharto ended his 32-year dictatorship on May 21, 1998. Senior Democratic Party politician Melani Leimena Suharli, for example, suggested that the couple should reunite before the presidential election in July 9.
Meanwhile, Prabowo spent Monday attending ceremonies marking declarations of support from his supporters in Jakarta. Jokowi and his running mate Jusuf Kalla separately toured around Java to rally supporters in various localities.
On Monday, Jokowi went to Karawang, West Java, to visit local historical sites and later greeted his supporters during one of his well-known impromptu visits to a traditional market.
The non-active Jakarta governor is scheduled to visit several cities in Java during the week; while Kalla is scheduled to greet voters in eastern parts of Indonesia.
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