Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – Ma'ruf Amin was anything but young and millennial – until he showed up for the first presidential debate on Thursday night.
When incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo picked Ma'ruf as his running mate, questions arose as to whether the 75-year-old cleric could help Jokowi court the so-called "millennial voters" – a demographic that will make up a large voting bloc in 2019. After all, a sarong and white sneakers hardly make for the killer outfit of the day.
Jokowi's camp realized this but stuck to its decision. Soon after Jokowi's announcement, Oesman Sapta Oedang of the Hanura Party said Ma'ruf could be called a millennial. "Millennial is not just about age. It is about actions and attitude," he said.
It turned out that what Ma'ruf needed to do was to show up as himself to finally gain the approval stamp from the millennials, at least those who were on Twitter during the debate. Donning a white shirt, white scarf, traditional black peci and his sarong, Ma'ruf soon became the talk of the town.
Some considered Ma'ruf a burden to Jokowi because of his quietness during the debate. According to kompas.com, Ma'ruf only spoke five times, for a total period of four minutes and 16 seconds. For comparison, Jokowi spoke 21 times and clocked up 23 minutes and 46 seconds of speaking time.
Half of Ma'ruf's speaking time was allocated to his explanation on terrorism, one of the main issues addressed in the first debate. The rest he used to reiterate his support for Jokowi.
Luckily for Ma'ruf, his relative silence was gold for netizens. Some were actually waiting for his turn to speak.
People when Pak Kiai finally saying something #DebatPilpres2019 pic.twitter.com/PqzJlzMrYW – dara?? (@daranida_) January 17, 2019
A user joked that Ma'ruf had left the chat, in reference to the ubiquitous group chats in Indonesia. Kyai Ma'ruf Amin has left the chat #DebatPilpres2019 – rico (@ricojames92) January 17, 2019
On Twitter, @ikramarki correlated Ma'ruf's silence to his religiosity. In a fictitious conversation, Ma'ruf was asked why he barely said anything. Ma'ruf answered, "Islam teaches us to avoid debate." Another netizen swooned over the user, responding with, "Masya Allah [as God willed]".
The moment that sealed the deal for netizens was when Ma'ruf was asked whether he had any additional comments after Jokowi finished his statement. Nonchalantly, Ma'ruf said, "I have nothing to add".
His response quickly became a meme, used as an answer in various hypothetical scenarios.
Me, every time when asked if I know any good restaurants of cafes to hangout: https://t.co/8UEleVQD5x – patootie (@chimneypainter) January 17, 2019
Me: can you add some sugar? Maybe 2 pumps? Coffeeshop barista: https://t.co/HMvsVJeoVk – Marilize Legajuana (@dhil_with_it) January 17, 2019
Me when my lecturer asked me to speak up during q&a session https://t.co/S2aJ0vrMK5 – Aulia Revi (@auliarv) January 17, 2019
Me during exam after i repeate the question on the answer sheet https://t.co/Pu446yW2yn – ??Trump?? (@roastmehoe) January 17, 2019
Apparently Ma'ruf struck a chord with students, since similar comments are abundant on Twitter. Another user, @farhanrdhana, likened Ma'ruf to himself during a group presentation.
That's me on every group presentation. pic.twitter.com/LchsdYhm6I-- Farhan Wardhana (@farhanrdhana) January 17, 2019
Similarly, user @gz_ahmad said, "Pak Ma'ruf Amin is basically me in every class discussion".
Pak Maruf Amin is basically me in every class discussion lmao cba-- GZA (@Gz_ahmad) January 17, 2019
User with handle @Ihsanrafd said, "If Maruf Amin [were] in a group presentation, his part would be changing the slides."
If Maruf Amin was in a group presentation, his part would be changing the slides. – slumpedog (@Ihsanrafd) January 17, 2019
Besides the jokes, Twitter user @oreogillis called for more appreciation for Ma'ruf, writing that, "I like that guy despite how little he spoke but how influential he was when he did".
Ma'ruf Amin represents all of us introverts-- Gennaro Jusuf (@gennarojusuff) January 17, 2019
Twitter user Gennaro Jusuf sums up in one sentence: "Ma'ruf Amin represents all of us introverts". (swd)