BTV, Jakarta – If there's a person who best understands the calamity endured by Anas Urbaningrum, it must be Angelina Sondakh.
Both were once the shining stars of the ruling Democratic Party in 2009-14 until corruption scandals kicked them out of the party. Anas and Angelina have paid their dues by spending more than nine years in prison without remission.
It's only natural that Angelina came to Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung to welcome Anas' release in person on Tuesday.
The former Democratic Party chairman was given parole ahead of the expiration of his sentence, having been behind bars since January 2014.
"I and Brother Anas have followed a very similar path. He served nine years and three months, I did nine years and nine months. We both weren't given remission, no sentence cuts except for the parole," Angelina told BTV news anchor Fristian Griec.
She said she was moved by Anas' statement as he addressed hundreds of supporters at the prison's entrance. "His speech in the prison made me weep. I haven't heard a speech like that for years," she said.
"What I have learned from Brother Anas is how to forgive, while keeping the fight for justice and truth without beating the war drums," the 2001 Miss Indonesia Beauty Pageant winner said.
"He has endured a tragic journey, falling when he was at the top of his career and receiving relentless insults and abuses. Even after all of this, bullies out there will continue to target him."
I Gede Pasek Suardika, who left the Democratic Party after disagreements with party founder Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and after many senior members were left behind amid corruption scandals, said his friendship with Anas holds true until today.
He said he was stripped of the chairmanship of the House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs for defending Anas in 2013-14.
"It cost me the Commission III chairmanship because I stand for Anas. To put it into context, no Balinese politician has ever become chairman of the commission in the House history before," he said in an exclusive interview with BTV.
Pasek founded the Archipelago Awakening Party, or PKN, which passed the eligibility requirements to participate in the 2024 general elections. He said Anas could become a central figure to attract voters in the upcoming elections.
"I believe Brother Anas went out of the prison without grudges. He's only fighting for truth and justice so the public can understand what really happened behind all of this," he said.
Pasek added that Anas has been "criminalized" by the inner circle of the Democratic Party, but he declined to cite names.