Many people in Indonesia were despondent at the news that Donald Trump had won the US presidential election in a stunning upset over Hillary Clinton. Many here are wary of Trump because of his fiery anti-Muslim rhetoric, which included a campaign promise to ban all Muslims from entering the United States (a statemet that has now been erased from his campaign website).
But there were at least two Indonesian politicians who seemed quite pleased with The Donald win the race – Golkar Party Chairman Seyta Novanto and House Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon.
It’s not surprising, given that both met Trump back in September 2015, when the US business tycoon was still just one of many candidates in the Republican presidential primaries. During an infamous appearance at one of Trump’s press conferences in New York City, The Donald brought Setya up to the podium to introduce him to the crowd and ask “Do they like me in Indonesia” to which the then house speaker replied, “Yes, highly.”
The incident was not only widely mocked here in Indonesia, it also caused a political scandal as many pointed out that Setya’s appearance could be construed as an endorsement of Trump by Indonesia.
However, Setya said he and a delegation of Indonesian politicians, which included Fadli, had simply met with Trump earlier in the day to discuss business opportunities. He claimed they had been invited to the press conference and were too polite to say no.
At any rate, that scandal passed, only for another scandal related to Freeport ending with Setya stepping down from his house speaker role, only for him to be given the position of Golkar Party chairman soon after.
Setya spoke today about Trump’s victory and, using his insider info from having met The Donald himself, declared that it was a good thing for Indonesia, dismissing Trump’s previous anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“I believe that Trump will not think like that after becoming president, and I am sure that Trump will think about [his position to Muslims] more positively, he told me so directly,” Setya said today as quoted by Okezone.
Setya went on to say that he thought Trump was appreciative of the fact that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country that is unified by Pancasila (we’re pretty sure Trump has no idea what Pancasila is but whatever…)
Meanwhile, Fadli claimed to have been sure the whole time that Trump would win the US presidency and also stated that he thought Trump’s anti-Muslim statements during the campaign would not turn into policies during his administration.
“I believe what he said during his campaign, which was about fear of Islam and immigrants, was just campaign rhetoric. He will not act on it,” Fadli said yesterday as quoted by Pikiran Rakyat.
Fadli also took to Twitter to congratulate President Trump on his win and taking the opportunity to repost the selfie he took with the now-US president last year.