Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – Sandiaga Uno attended an event hosted by the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, in Jakarta on Monday in a gesture of loyalty after being linked to a move to the United Development Party (PPP).
Wearing the party's white uniform and traditional headdress peci, Sandiaga said that party chairman Prabowo Subianto had invited him in person with a "special message" that he shouldn't skip the inauguration of the Gerindra-National Awakening Party (PKB) joint secretariat office in Menteng, Central Jakarta.
"I was invited with a special message from Mr. Prabowo that I have to attend," Sandiaga told reporters after the ceremony.
Asked about his potential move to PPP, Sandiaga replied: "There is no such a plan, it's all clear now as you see I'm wearing Gerindra clothes."
Rumors of his planned move to the PPP spread after he was seen attending several events hosted by the Muslim-based party while skipping a high-level Gerindra gathering.
Several PPP executives have revealed his intention to join the party as Gerindra leaders, including Prabowo, criticized him for being disloyal.
When Sandiaga arrived at the secretariat building at around 10:00 a.m., he saluted and shook hands with Gerindra executive committee chairman Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, who later said: "It's a sign that he remains a Gerindra man."
During the occasion, Sandiaga clarified his previous presence at PPP events.
"I was invited in my capacity as the [tourism] minister to work with communities on economic recoveries and Mr. Prabowo once said that we must honor the invitation by anyone if it relates to our job and duty," Sandiaga said.
Sandiaga reportedly has met with Prabowo and other leaders to clarify his visits to PPP events and it was agreed that "it's a normal thing" for any representative of Gerindra to communicate with politicians from rival parties as long as it's conducted in Prabowo's consent.
Sandiaga was Prabowo's running mate in the 2019 presidential election.