Indonesia’s deputy speaker of the house, Fadli Zon, was once one of Donald Trump’s biggest fans in Indonesia after having met the then-US presidential candidate in 2016 (alongside former house speaker Setya Novanto, who is about to face sentencing in his corruption case).
After that meeting, Fadli spoke highly of Trump, congratulated him on his election victory and even tried to apply his “Make America Great Again!” slogan for his party Gerindra and its chairman, Prabowo Subianto.
— Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) February 8, 2017
But after Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in December, Fadli was forced to join the chorus of other Indonesian and Muslim politicians denouncing the US President’s controversial decision. Fortunately for Fadli, he seems to have a new polarizing political figure to pour his admiration into, and his name is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Klu ingin bangkit n jaya, RI butuh pemimpin spt Vladimir Putin: berani, visioner, cerdas, berwibawa, nggak byk ngutang, nggak planga plongo.
— Fadli Zon (@fadlizon) March 30, 2018
If you want us to rise and be victorious, Indonesia needs a leader like Vladimir Putin: brave, visionary, intelligent, wise, not too many debts, not clueless
That’s certainly a… unique way to characterize Putin, the former KGB agent who others have described as something more akin to an evil genius who has allegedly used terrifying tactics like intimidation, hacking, psy-ops, criminalization and assassination against his opponents to ensure his continued rule over Russia through a sham democracy (and possibly help Trump win the US presidency).
Unfortunately for Fadli, Putin cannot take over Indonesia, but he does know somebody who he thinks would be perfect to take Putin-like charge over the government.
PUTIN can also be an abbreviation for PRABOWO UNTUK INDONESIA (Prabowo for Indonesia). God willing he will help Indonesia rise up instead of going bankrupt.
Gerindra Chairman Prabowo, who is widely expected to challenge President Joko Widodo once again in the 2019 elections, certainly does share some similarities with Putin. For example, many feared that Prabowo would have become an authoritarian strongman figure like Putin had he won the previous presidential race in 2014. Both Putin and Prabowo have also been accused of human rights abuses.
But Prabowo, whose 2019 run is still less than certain, has recently been leaning hard on a message of economic nationalism and populism, arguing that the country’s future was in serious threat of dissolving by 2030 (based on a sci-fi novel’s prediction – see #GhostFleet) due to Indonesia’s greedy elites buying up most of the country’s land and selling off its natural resources to foreign powers.
If anti-elitism is really the message Prabowo wants to go with, then comparisons to Putin’s Russia, which studies show is currently the most unequal major country in the world with almost two-thirds of its wealth controlled by millionaires, is not one that the Gerindra chief should want anybody to make.
Naturally many found fault in Fadli’s Putin tweets and admiration for the Russian president. Andreas Hugo Pareira, the chairman of ruling party PDI-P’s central executive board, had the sharpest response, telling Fadli to “just move to Russia.”