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By the way: The picture of politics, there it goes again…

Duncan Graham

The Jakarta Post

Malang, East Java  /  Fri, April 5, 2019  /  09:05 am
By the way: The picture of politics, there it goes again…

Indonesians will go to the polls on April 17 to vote for representatives and the president. (Shutterstock/Bakhtiar Zein)

Look here, glance there: Just gaze at my face on these huge posters and linger; you’ll instinctively understand that I’m the right candidate for you in the upcoming election.

My generous smile says I’ll make a fine politician able to accomplish much during my first term. Yes, it’s true, I did have sunspots, worry lines, birthmarks and blemishes, but all are erased by the clever Photoshop people. 

They said imperfections repelled voters; as I’m going to represent you and other interests in the highest debating forums in the republic, I must look perfect. Which I am.

Obviously, you’ll want to know about my faith. I can’t be specific because that might turn off some electors who think politics should be secular, so I’ll send hidden messages. That means covering or uncovering my hair, or including a symbol on a necklace.

And to ensure this remains gender-neutral, let’s be frank. Or rather, Frank. Should I wear a peci, the rimless black Javanese cap, to signal that I’m a true red and white nationalist?  Or would a kopiah skullcap be enough to suggest I know where Mecca is located?

The experts tell me that you dupes, sorry, canny folks in voterland, want to know whether I go to a mosque, church or temple, though I don’t think it should matter, to be honest. Hey, isn’t that a funny word? Don’t hear it much nowadays.

Actually, I don’t worship much outside my mirror, as I’m a bit of a freethinker, as they say in Singapore, where I have several bank accounts and two apartments. 

Of course that information isn’t on my poster; do you think I’m stupid?  Forget that question. When you’ve been number one all your life it’s sometimes difficult to be meek and humble. Thank goodness it’ll soon be April 17 so I can return to my normal self. Well, for five years anyway.

You’ll never know any of this, unless some muckraking journalist does a bit of digging and reveals all. I’m not worried. I’ll say its fake news. It works for the US president, so that’s OK. 

That’s what my appointed advisor suggests. I call him my dalang – it’s a joke because he says he’s not a puppet master but a professional psephologist.  He’s studied techniques used in those overseas centers of democracy and stability. Places like Australia, which I read somewhere, has had seven leaders in the past decade, while we’ve just had two. 

I’ve been there a few times to catch up with my kids at university, so I’ve learned a bit about the folks Down Under. Do you know they have compulsory voting? If not, maybe no one would bother. Can you imagine – most prefer the beach to malls.

Here we’re free to shop or stay home, like 25 percent did during the last election, or head to the polling booth. Here’s my advice: Only make the journey if you’re going to put a nail through my name. Otherwise take it easy. Check the supermarket specials – it’s a holiday.

So what else should I have on my poster? There’s no space for the policies of the party I’ve recently joined. I must keep repeating its name – suppose I had a slip of the tongue and mentioned the one I favored until they found a candidate with more money?

I know – a list of the academic qualifications I’ve bought, I mean earned, through years of diligent study. Do you know what the title BS means? Neither do I, but it sounds impressive.

They gave me that award when I spoke in Australia – apparently something to do with bovine digestive systems, so possibly an agricultural degree. Someone said it meant poppycock, but that’s horticulture. 

What do I fear? Well, losing obviously, though we’ve spent huge sums to make sure that doesn’t happen.

My real concern is the other candidates. I’m told some pitching for the 20,000 seats are serious and want to be elected so they can make the country better and improve the lives of the poor.

That made me laugh. We never thought politics was for altruists when Pak Soeharto ran the show. Ah, those were the days. Maybe the general will bring them back. (ste)

 

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