Audrey Santoso, Jakarta – There seems to be no end of surprises when it comes to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Now, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab's lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, has become a legislative candidate for the party of the white-snouted bull as the PDI-P is known.
The surprise news was revealed by PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto who said that the people of West Sumatra had asked that Ampera become a legislative candidate.
"Yes, as we stated, in our dialogue with the people of Sumbar [West Sumatra] they truly wanted a bridge to link with the PDI-P so Ampera has indeed been nominated by the PDI-P for the Sumbar electoral district", said Kristiyanto at the General Election Commission (KPU) offices on Jl. Imam Bonjol in Central Jakarta on Tuesday July 17.
Responding to questions about the news that Ampera has become a candidate for the PDI-P, Kristiyanto insisted that the PDI-P is open to any and all groups and welcomes any figure who wishes to talk and cooperate in building the nation.
"The PDI-P is building its identity as a nationalist home for Indonesia Raya [the national anthem] so those that join and declare that the PDI-P is a party which stands strong with the [state ideology of] Pancasila, so our dialogue has been going well", said Kristiyanto.
Responding to the news about his nomination, Ampera insisted that he has never met with Kristiyanto.
Ampera is Rizieq Shihab's lawyer and has actively defended Shihab until the pornography chat case against his client was dropped by the police last month.
Ampera recently criticised the Alumni 212 Brotherhood – a grouping of hard-line Islamic groups behind last year's protests against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – for removing popular West Nusa Tenggara governor Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB) from its list of legislative candidates after he declared his support for Widodo earlier this month.
These kind of opportunistic defections, which are taking place in the context of continued infighting within the organised Islamic opposition to the Widodo government and former general Prabowo Subianto's failure to cobble together a viable coalition of political parties to enable him to contest the 2019 presidential election, demonstrate, yet again, just how shallow the ideological and political differences are among Indonesia's political and religious elite.
See Max Lane's article The country with no left.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Bikin Kaget! Kapitra Pengacara Habib Rizieq Jadi Caleg PDIP".]