Vice chair, Board of Trustees, CSIS Foundation
On Saturday, April 13, there was a lot of commotion around Jakarta’s main stadium, Gelora Bung Karno, since daybreak. It was the last day of a three-week open campaign period that lasted from March 24 to April 13, and a big “people’s concert” was being prepared where the incumbent presidential candidate, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was to appear in the grand finale of his campaign.
Come mid-morning, thousands of Jakartans along with many more from different provinces in Java and outside Java streamed in to fill in all available seats in the tribunes and the circular grounds of the stadium. The estimated number of people in the crowd inside and around the stadium was about 300,000. This was not counting the estimated hundreds of thousands that inundated the outside area of the stadium up to near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. This big gathering was seen as festive and unprecedented, even when compared to any major soccer match or the historic opening of the 2018 Asian Games.
The atmosphere inside and outside of the stadium was also wonderful. Those who were present were jubilant about the aura of harmony and anticipation of a great day ahead. In addition to all the people, buses were neatly lined up in their proper places. People wished to be with Jokowi, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, and vice-presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin, to give them their support.
The feeling of togetherness that sprang that day gave a lot of hope to what Indonesians expect for their future, and what Indonesians of goodwill would like to see happen. People were courteous to each other, young and old, from every part of society, be they Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Betawi natives of Jakarta or people of other ethnic backgrounds, as the capital is a melting pot. Indonesians of Chinese, Arab, and Indian descent, a few foreigners from embassies and the foreign media all felt united, peaceful and full of courtesy and love — yes, love — toward each other.
There were no worries about security and crime and no fights or brawls as people were helpful to each other. There was not even a sniff of any cigarette smoke in the stadium. The peaceful atmosphere showed the character of a perfect society of Indonesia as we used to know it. We had not seen the customs and traditions of treating your own people as family, full of love and respect, in so many years due to political factionalism.
Hopefully, the picture that we saw that Saturday can become a model for all of us, not only in occasional situations but in everyday life. This is what unity based on Pancasila can do to our pluralistic society with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the majority. That is what Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) is all about: we are one amid our
This is made possible just because the majority of society allows it to happen, setting a good example of how Indonesians should behave.
The organizers of the April 13 event need to be lauded as they should be for such an atmosphere that is expected under the leadership of Jokowi and his two vice presidents. The presence of Slank, a popular band, and other entertainers and celebrities made the atmosphere sublime. Jokowi gave a speech that was short and pointed as befits such a mass gathering. He thanked Kalla for his support as the vice president in his first presidential term, and welcomed vice-presidential candidate Ma’ruf. He also recognized the support from his coalition partners among the political parties present.
For once following the long, tense campaign period that began on Sept. 23, we had a festive and peaceful day that everybody could enjoy and experience due to people’s respect for each other, and the wonderful job done by the security establishment, both the police and the military. It was like peace to the world.
It was indeed a beautiful occasion; despite the fact that we still have challenges to face that sometimes make us feel helpless, this special event and the atmosphere where people were so friendly and open to each other among so many people of different walks of life gave us not only hope, but also certainty that it can happen again and again in every circumstance as a way of life for all Indonesians.
The peaceful atmosphere was felt again on the day of the general election on April 17, to the relief of all Indonesians. Peace to Indonesia, and peace to all people of good will.
The writer is vice chair, Board of Trustees, CSIS Foundation.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.