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Jakarta Post

I helped Prabowo when he was 'abandoned' and 'stateless': Megawati

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, December 4, 2019   /   07:08 pm
I helped Prabowo when he was 'abandoned' and 'stateless': Megawati Respectfully yours: Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri (left) smiles as Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto offers a gesture of respect after a closed meeting at her residence on Jl. Teuku Umar, Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday. It was the first meeting between Megawati and Prabowo since the 2019 presidential election. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri has recalled how she helped Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto during a trying time for the former general.

Megawati, who also heads the steering committee of the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP), told the story during a speech before BPIP members at the State Palace on Tuesday, as an example of how she implemented the values of Pancasila in her own life. 

"People often ask why I'm friends with Prabowo Subianto," she said. "It's because that's what I consider to be my [application of] Pancasila, embracing opponents."

Megawati said that during her tenure as the country’s fifth president, she helped Prabowo who had an unclear citizenship status at the time. 

"I helped him when he was abandoned, as the president I was angry, [I asked] 'who threw him out so that he became stateless?’" she said.

"I got angry at the foreign minister and the [Indonesian Military] commander. ‘Whatever else, he is still an Indonesian, bring him home and give him responsibilities.'"

The chairwoman of the PDI-P, however, did not specify when the incident happened or what had made the Gerindra Party chairman stateless.

Read also: Megawati, Prabowo talk reconciliation over 'nasi goreng'

In the aftermath of the downfall of former president Soeharto in 1998, Prabowo ─ who was the head of the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) at the time ─ was discharged from the military after which he left the country for Jordan. He returned to Indonesia in 2001.

The relationship between Megawati and Prabowo, who was her running mate when she ran for president in the 2009 election, has seen ups and downs in recent years, especially after the PDI-P decided to nominate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as a presidential candidate in the 2014 election.

At that time, Prabowo ─ who challenged Jokowi in both the 2014 and 2019 presidential race ─ and his party Gerindra felt betrayed because Megawati had made a promise in 2009 to back his bid for the presidency in the next election.

Gerindra deputy chairman Sufmi Dasco Ahmad confirmed Megawati's story in a post on Instagram on Tuesday. 

"What Bu Megawati said is true and is not to be added to or subtracted from," he wrote. "We will never forget what she did for Pak Prabowo as a friend." (kmt)