Hatta admits 'secret' meeting with Jokowi, denies political negotiations
Bagus BT Saragih
The Jakarta Post
Former vice presidential candidate and National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Hatta Rajasa admitted that he had met with president-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, but denied that any political negotiations had taken place.
Hatta claimed that the meeting was merely for silaturahim (maintaining good relationship) with 'my good friend Jokowi.'
'We can be different [in political stance] but we don't [have to] stop saying hello to each other. What's wrong with me having silaturahim with Jokowi after the [presidential] competition?' Hatta said.
Along with other politicians that endorsed the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta presidential ticket, on Tuesday Hatta met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the latter's residence in Cikeas, West Java.
Hatta said that he had planned to meet with vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla as well.
Hatta's meeting with Jokowi was held "secretly' at the house of NasDem Party chairman Surya Paloh in South Jakarta.
Journalists who expected to report on Jokowi's meeting with Surya, claimed to be surprised when they saw a man believed to be Hatta walking out of Surya's front door.
Appearing taken aback by the group of reporters, the man quickly entered the house again.
Hatta was no longer seen until Jokowi left the house around 9:30 p.m.
Several security officers claimed that Hatta had never visited the house that day. NasDem politician Charles Meikyansah, who was also at the house, told reporters that no meeting had taken place between Hatta had Jokowi.
However, a middle-aged woman believed to be working as a domestic helper at Surya's house, said that Hatta left about an hour before Jokowi did. '[Hatta] left via the back door,' the woman said.
Asked for confirmation regarding the woman's statement, Charles admitted that Hatta had been in Surya's house for about an hour before Jokowi came.
'[Jokowi's meeting with Hatta] was very brief. He left after Jokowi came,' he said.
According to him, Hatta was accompanied by PAN executive and Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan.
With this meeting, Hatta becomes the first leader of a political party in the Red and White coalition supporting Prabowo-Hatta to meet with Jokowi after the Constitutional Court upheld Jokowi's election victory late last month.
Jokowi met with Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali last week, but in the latter's capacity as President.
Although Hatta and Zulkifli have denied that the meeting at Surya's house was political, it has intensified speculation that PAN might join the Jokowi-Kalla camp. Zulkifli, a PAN politician, has been touted as a potential member of Jokowi's Cabinet.
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