Indonesia’s Two Presidents Both Right-Wing Candidates Claim Victory in April Election

Andre Vltchek

In Indonesia, both presidential candidates have declared victory, just a few days after the elections that were held on 17th April, 2019. Both of them are pro-business, both Muslim, and both insist that the Communist Party should continue to be banned. Neither of them is even thinking about stopping their country from committing one of the bloodiest genocides on earth, that in West Papua; or ending the unbridled plunder and environmental disaster on the third largest island in the world, Borneo (in Indonesia known as Kalimantan).

The country is tense. The final results will be announced on May the 22nd, but anything could happen before that, including violence and clashes between the two camps.

If both candidates are pro-business and anti-Communist, then what is the fuss about, really? What makes these elections so different from the previous ones, and what makes the situation so volatile?

The explanation is simple: while the current president ‘Jokowi’ (his real name is Joko Widodo) is a former furniture-maker from a city in Central Java – Solo (also known as Surakarta) – who first became the relatively successful mayor of his city and then governor of the capital Jakarta, before being elected as Indonesian president in 2014, his rival Prabowo Subianto is the Indonesian answer to Bolsonaro: a man who was trained in the United States at Fort Benning, and who was deployed in East Timor in the early 90’s, becoming the commander of Kopassus special forces, committing mass murder there, and using the notorious hooded “ninja” gangs, during the so-called operation “Eradicate”.

His murderous career did not end there: In 1996 he embarked on terrorizing villages in the occupied and plundered West Papua.Two years later, in 1998 his troops kidnapped and tortured at least nine anti-Suharto activists.

His military career ended there, after he publicly took responsibility for the kidnappings.

But in Indonesia, brutal deeds are hardly ever condemned or punished. The killers who participated in the 1965/66 US-backed coup and consequent mass murder of between 1 and 3 million leftists and intellectuals, are still proudly appearing on Indonesian television shows, bragging about committing monstrous assassinations, raping women and children, and about ‘saving the country from the Communist menace’. They usually receive standing ovations, as documented in Oppenheimer’s film the “Art of Killing”.

Most likely, Jokowi won by approximately a 10% margin, but against him, there is an entire force of increasingly influential right-wing Islamist groups and movements. They want extreme capitalism, they want strong conservative rule, they want a physical crackdown against the leftists (particularly ‘hidden Communists’), some want Sharia Law and a Caliphate; in brief, they want Prabowo.

The election campaigns were dirty and low. Prabowo’s people tried to accuse President Jokowi of being a closet Communist (and a secret sympathizer of the once powerful political party PKI, that was crushed in 1965 and banned until now), and of being a ‘non-Muslim’.

In Indonesia, these are extremely dangerous accusations. People blamed of siding with the ‘Communists’ or even leftists, are often confronted by physical violence and could face prosecution in the courts, and then lengthy prison terms. Without exception, they are banned from participating in political life. Being ‘non-Muslim’ or even worse, being branded as ‘anti-Islamic’, means that a person has all doors slammed in his or her face. To illustrate the point: the extremely successful governor of Jakarta, ‘Ahok’, was both Chinese by blood, and progressive by political belief. As a result of his socialist reforms, he was thrown into jail after being accused of ‘insulting Islam’, a ridiculous and never proven charge.

The fact that Jokowi is interested in participating in China’s BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), has gained him an avalanche of accusations from Prabowo’s camp, that he is ‘pro-China’, and therefore a Communist.

In extremely racist Indonesia, which perpetrated three genocides and countless pogroms against its minorities in little more than half a century, being ‘Chinese’ is another ‘crime’. Between the 1965 coup and the reign of President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) who lifted the ban, everything Chinese was forbidden: from spoken and written language, to films, names, traditional lamps and dragons, to cakes.

The West, of course, has been admiring and supporting all this, from 1965 until now. It cherishes fascist, anti-Chinese, extremely capitalist Indonesia, ruled by brutal military and increasingly radical (pro-Western) Wahhabi Islamists; a country that allows, even encourages the unrestrained plunder of its own natural resources; enriching North American, European and Australian companies,while impoverishing its own indoctrinated, uninformed religious and obedient population.


Prison where Ahok was held

President Jokowi is no hero. While pushing for some very moderate reforms in such areas as medical care and slowly although reluctantly improving Indonesian infrastructure, he is refusing to defend victims of Islamism and of regressive local culture, which brutally oppresses and intimidates both minorities and women, and which still bans both ‘atheism’ and many of the left-wing ideals as well as all Communist movements.

“He is Javanese,” a local architect explained. “He never confronts his enemies directly.”

But some are now beginning to question: “How much compromise becomes really ‘too much’?

Not long ago, Jokowi stepped back and let his friend and political ally, Ahok, be tried unfairly, consequently ending up in prison.

When a lady teacher got sexually harassed by her superior and publicly denounced abuse, demanding justice, she was arrested, tried and thrown into jail. Not her tormentor, but her! Instead of stepping in and ordering her immediate release, Jokowi cowardly remained ‘impartial’, and even refused to ‘pardon her’.

He also does absolutely nothing to stop the genocide and plunder of West Papua. Instead he is building new roads there, to help to move the loot extracted by the foreign and local mining and timber companies. The Papuan opposition and freedom fighters are hunted down, tortured and killed.

On the island of Kalimantan, unbridled plunder and the environmental destruction goes on and on, unchallenged and unquestioned.

In the meantime, draconic laws are curbing free flow of information and are now muzzling all potential left-wing opposition.

The extremely low level of education and knowledge (after the demise of the greatest Indonesian [Communist] writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the country does not count one single world-class thinker, writer or scientist) is happening to uphold the depressing status quo. It often looks like the country of 300 million is basically involved in only two major activities: the plunder of its minerals and timber, and the ‘business’ (selling all that is being looted).

It is important to repeat again: this is precisely where the West wants to have Indonesia, since 1965. And this is where it has it now.

So what is the response of Jokowi, when he is accused of being ‘pro-Chinese’, or a ‘Communist’, or ‘non-Muslim’?

The response is shameful: Whenever attacked, he truly ‘bends’, and immediately begins officially distancing himself even further from left-wing ideals. He makes ridiculous gestures (like not going to the 2nd BRI Forum in Beijing, whereas both the Malaysian PM Mahathir and the president of the Philippines, Duterte, are proudly attending). Or, he goes to Mecca periodically, to show how devoted he is. He publicly leads prayers, and above all, he had chosen as his running mate Ma’ruf Amin, a former Indonesian Ulama Council leader.

Earlier, in 2016, Jokowi appointed General Wiranto (another murderous military cadre from the Suharto’s era), a Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, an extremely powerful position. What next, ‘appeasing’ the Indonesian fascist, regressive forces? Nobody knows.


In the past, perhaps the most important Indonesian artist, 82-year old Djokopekik, had survived imprisonment, isolation and censorship. Now he lives with his wife and eleven dogs, on the outskirts of the historic Javanese city of Yogyakarta, on a vast compound, near, as he says, a ‘ghost infested river’.

Political and ‘red’ to the core, Djokopekik appeared in my feature documentary, about the 1965 massacres. Now, predicting that Jokowi gained the majority of votes, he appears to be cautiously optimistic:

Of course, the victims of this government’s slowness are already mounting… but Jokowi never had it easy. You see, he used to be just a small businessman, and then a mayor of Solo. Only in Jakarta, after teaming up with Ahok, he learned about the politics. There and then, all that hate was thrown at him…”

Jokowi was born in 1961, and in 1965 he was only 4 years old. Like others, he was greatly influenced by Suharto’s ‘New Order’ propaganda. He is not yet a political animal; not savvy yet… But if he would be really brave and determined, chances are that there would be another 1965; another coup.”

Just to illustrate to you how bad are things here: If Prabowo would win, many of Jokowi’s supporters would be gone; killed…”

So, what do the supporters of Prabowo say?

Mr. Reza Esfan Asjoedjir, former General Manager of a fertilizer producing company, Pusri, shared his thoughts for this essay:

Maybe Prabowo is not the best candidate. But in more than 4 years, the performance of the government of Jokowi is far from good. Whether when it concerns economy, or good corporate governance… and they don’t care about the interests of the Muslims. I am sorry, but the indecisiveness towards the PKI (former Communist Party of Indonesia), is irritating, too. After all, we still have the laws that ban the Party, right? Also, Jokowi opted to be close to the People’s Republic of China.Other issues include his positive attitude towards LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transgender). Also, he already broke many promises.”

Now in Indonesia, many families are bitterly divided over politics. Arif (not his real name), an up and coming filmmaker from Central Java, is not hiding his disgust with the present situation in Indonesia:

I am ‘golput’ (against voting). But my family not only voted for Prabowo; they are actually actively campaigning for him.”

Prabowo secured a clear and decisive victory in Aceh, West Sumatra and West Java, the strongholds of Islamism, conservativism and backwardness.

In most of the villages of Central Java, including Plaosan (known for its ancient temple complexes), most of the local farmers are supporting Jokowi. However, the ‘other side’ often comes and intimidates them.

Ms. Rum, a small coffee and noodle stall owner:

There were many visitors to the temple asking me whom I voted for, but I did not tell them. I just laughed, noncommittedly. But I voted for the candidate that has already proven to be able to rule, which is our current President. During the 2014 elections, there were many issues that were thrown in Jokowi’s face, such as being anti-Muslim, or a member of the PKI, and many other things. But we were not convinced hearing such things. During these elections, they did not dare to use those issues anymore; at least not here. But they said that ‘how come Jokowi who comes from such a humble background could become a mayor, then governor, and then president; that is, if he is not using ‘black power’.”

Ghosts; Indonesia is too obsessed with ghosts, with black magic and other irrational beliefs.

Now, many farmers at least get some help from the state; not much but at least some, and some food, if they are in need. And this goes a long way here, in a still desperately poor Indonesia.

Ms. Ponirah, craft-maker and seller:

I voted for Jokowi. He is the best, especially for the ‘little’ people like us here. During the previous administration of SBY, what we received as aid for the poor people was only very bad-quality rice. We couldn’t even eat it. Now we get good rice and also some other basic necessities. In this village, Jokowi won! Jokowi Yesss!”


All this is still very far from ‘real changes’; far from where other countries in Southeast Asia that have broken away from the traditional ‘client states of the West mentality’ are right now: Vietnam, and even the Philippines.

But it appears that the ‘worst scenario’ has been prevented: the ‘Bolsonaro development’, or worse still: a scenario that would take Indonesia back to the days of the military dictatorship of the murderous imbecile – General Suharto.

If his re-election is confirmed, Jokowi should toughen up and do what the deposed left-wing President Abdurrahman Wahid (a progressive Muslim cleric, a socialist, and until his death, my dear friend) tried to do on behalf of Indonesia; to apologize to the Communists, to tell the truth about the genocides of 1965 and in East Timor, to stop the on-going genocide in West Papua, to halt the plunder of natural resources all over archipelago, to curb savage capitalism, legalize both Communists and atheists, and thoroughly reform education, upholding the secular Constitution of Indonesia.

Like in South Africa, Chile, Argentina and elsewhere, those who collaborated with the West, murdering and torturing their own citizens, should be exposed, arrested, and tried for treason and violation of basic human rights, instead of being allowed to join the government, or to run for office.

For Indonesia to prosper or at least to get out of the horrific state it is now in, it has to return to the pre-1965 era, and resume an independent, patriotic and socialist course, the sooner the better.

It is clear that Jokowi will not have guts to do all this. But at least he should create conditions for others to do what he, perhaps, does not even dare to dream about, yet.

In the meantime, the regressive forces have to be stopped.

Indonesians should not allow themselves to be reduced to the level of Afghanistan, where the West has implanted and then supported the Wahhabi Mujahedin, in order to destroy socialism.

Right now, the two presidential candidates of Indonesia are claiming victory.

Polls are indicating that this time, again, Jokowi is the winner. However, at least 40%, and perhaps more, voted for a former fascist and murderous general.

First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook


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May 18, 2019 3:53 PM

You can have Whizzo Soap Powder or Whammo Soap Powder.
You can have Tweedledum or Tweedledummer.
You can have Big Bag of Bugger All 1 or Big Bag of Bugger All 2.

I’ve just had a “Vote for Tommy Robinson” leaflet through the door.
Amazing what you can do with £10,000 a month Zionist money.

May 16, 2019 5:36 PM

A binary choice between two flavors of the same thing; how American can you get? Sounds like all those decades of “exporting democracy” have finally paid off…

May 16, 2019 10:23 PM
Reply to  Ash

But there seems little doubt that Prabowo is the ultimate thug: a mixture of Pinochet, Galtieri and some mad mullah from Saudi Arabia.
There’s no doubt that Islam is a festering menace, effectively blackmailing the whole country with the threat of civil war.

May 16, 2019 2:07 PM

Interesting and sobering reading, thank you. However this paragraph is way off

“Like in South Africa, Chile, Argentina and elsewhere, those who collaborated with the West, murdering and torturing their own citizens, should be exposed, arrested, and tried for treason and violation of basic human rights, instead of being allowed to join the government, or to run for office.”

In South Africa the Truth And Reconciliation Commission, led by Desmond Tutu, did very little to bring past criminals to justice, preferring instead to forgive but not forget. I won’t argue the merits or otherwise of this but do feel that the author should stand corrected.

May 16, 2019 6:27 PM
Reply to  KarenEliot

I’m so glad you chose not to defend the TaRC. That is because it was a literal sham PR exercise. At least two of F W de Clerc’s regime went on to serve in the Mandela regime. The neoliberalism went on unabated. Under the ANC: South Africa remained the sub-imperial regional outpost of the imperialist Washington Consensus it had been under Apartheid. Which it still is: contra the anti-imperialist pretensions.

Which is an object lesson in how imperialism works. Make a big brouhaha about letting a falsely imprisoned ANC leader out of prison, unban the countries liberation organisations, enter in to democracy, award a share of the Nobel Prize, make some films, fix the Rugby World Cup, make some other films, create a fairytale about all the progress, reforms, and freedom from oppression …whilst literally nothing changed. Except for the colour of the oppressor. For the average black South African, once the singing was done – things went from bad to worse to worse still.

Post-Mandela: if you include ANC support of Chad’s dictator, deployment in the DRC to secure the oil, and support for Mugabe …alongside the neoliberal exploitation of African by African – I think Andre is about right. Mandela should have entitled his book “The Long Walk to Unfreedom”.

Professor Patrick Bond has chronicled it all. I can recommend “Elite Transition” …the subtitle says it all – “From Apartheid to Neoliberalism” …to sub-imperialism – and beyond.

May 16, 2019 8:11 PM
Reply to  BigB

It’s me who needs to stand corrected as I misread that paragraph. (It seemed to be saying the wrongdoers -had- been brought to justice. I still think it’s poorly written but yes it is factually correct)


Am under no illusions of what a sham the T&RC was. No doubt the toothlessness was a design feature.

I spent a number of years growing up in that horrible place and to see people like not very secret policeman Craig Williamson essentially walking free is very upsetting even all these years later.


Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
May 16, 2019 12:08 PM

Is it delusions of grandeur, a god complex or a sexual macho assertiveness that drives (mainly) men to commit such acts of evil and exploitation ?
God knows, but it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

May 16, 2019 9:35 AM

This is Andre at his best: telling it like it is …being eyes and ears in remote places that the MSM does not cover (unless they want a new favoured despot and they begin by demonising the old).

Indonesia is the perfect example of the resource curse – where not just the surplus value, but the total value – of conflict minerals (gold,copper), timber, and palm oil …are extracted by International World Capitalism (global neoliberalism). Once that value is in the world markets, Lord knows where it ends up …but it benefits everyone – except the Indonesians. Apart from the ‘two’ Presidents , and the compradore elite.

There is also a hidden future expectation here – palm oil is a chief source of biofuel. Biofuel consumption that can only increase as the major capitalist economies decarbonise to ‘clean fuel’. Not so clean if it has Indonesian blood in it. But champagne socialists and crypto-fascist capitalists do not care about climate colonialism …only extending their resource hungry imperialist lifestyles beyond the point where they become parasitic on indigenous West Papuans, or those Dyaks from Borneo who have to suffer slow genocides – from 1967 to present and beyond.

This is the sort of caveat the Labour manifesto should come with. A government health warning – we support slow genocide to provide you with ‘net zero’ prosperity. We – the party of business – support HSBC, who make the loans for the palm oil plantations (pointed out by Bill Odie, of all people).

This cannot change. The Indonesians cannot change. The palm oil plantations will get bigger. The orangutans will die out, or survive only in captivity. This cannot change, unless we change. Until we say ‘no’ to techno-progress and the ersatz prosperity imaginal – the slow genocides get faster, the species die quicker, the mineral extraction poisons humans and wildlife alike become more widespread – all so we can have champagne socialism, and ‘party of business’ statist capitalism.

Out of sight should not mean out of mind. Andre makes the invisible visible. World capitalism is slow-genocidal and biodiversity omnicidal. Even its supposed alternative – actually existing socialism – costs the earth. This is the hidden cost that socialist utopians like Bastani and Mason never account for. And self-absorbed champagne socialists never allow for. We can no longer say we did not know.

May 16, 2019 9:18 AM

It used be so easy for the average bourgeois shit-kicker in Indonesia. Following the US imposed coup, Indonesia had become a one party state. Golkar (the one party) decided who would be president and local thugs would be employed to ensure that everyone in Java and Sumatra was ‘encouraged’ to vote for the approved candidate.
Right across the vast archipelago that is Indonesia average shit kicker knew exactly whose portrait to hang on the wall, how much his/her enterprise should ‘donate’ towards the local administrators and how much to send to Jakarta, but like all political structures which are allowed/insist upon staying around too long, types down a few rungs in the Golkar Party became impatient with the increasingly moribund ‘career path’ through the structure. They began employing thugs (well more poverty stricken young men prepared to do anything to keep putting food on their families table) to challenge the official standover men and advance the interests of the pols in a hurry.

Pretty soon the sociopaths in charge of the establishment structure developed hit squads to murder these impoverished young men guilty of trying to feed their families. Life also became dangerous for the ‘ballot-fodder’ who were needed to vote for who they were told and then disappear in between ballots. Examples had to made to ensure that the masses stuck to their designated role.
I remember a particularly horror filled trip to Jakartaback in those days, when taxi drivers, car park attendants, bell hops and food sellers had dreadful festering wounds on their forearms and the backs of their hands, caused by using whatever they could find to burn the tattoos which identified their particular ‘self defense club’ off themselves.

Meanwhile the instigators of this dystopia slept comfortably in their warm DC dormitory suburb beds.

IMO the people of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are the most quick-witted, peaceful and caring human beings I have had the pleasure to know, yet in all three cases they have paid by far the heaviest price for living somewhere jealously considered a material possession by the amoral and greedy bottom feeders of the US political class.
Some very capable people in all three nations resisted the comparatively light-handed treatment meted out by Japan to indigenous populations, but what always amazed the old fellas of these lands was the way the the USA gave those brave men the flick then replaced them with the same corrupt arseholes which the Japanese had recruited for their empire. “We were told we had been freed” one old fella said to me, “we couldn’t understand it since the same thieves they liberated us from were the people who the americans put in charge.

It is too easy to blame Indonesia for the horror that is West Irian, but as we learnt in Timor Leste the americans and australians are behind the insistence that Indonesia remain in control of resource rich Indonesian provinces. The Australian Labour Party is just like the US democrats, off the record insistent that oppression continue because Australian corporations are making it like there is no tommorow in West Irian, just as it was Australia who copped the lion’s share of the oil in the Timor oil deal between Australia and Indonesia.

Most of that knowledge was acquired post Timor-Leste’s escape from Indonesia. None of us can know exactly what the invoice the US gave the Netherlands post ww2 was, but we can be pretty certain from what has happened to Indonesia, that the so-called ‘Dutch East Indies’ were part of the recompense america demanded.

May 16, 2019 1:28 PM
Reply to  UreKismet

Well report from western journalist to defend and protect western’s interest in Indonesia for years that is now busted by Jokowi.

May 16, 2019 2:23 PM
Reply to  wahyu

You can thank Obama’s mother for the condition of Indonesia today. Subianto is one bloody handed creep.