Party of former Kopassus commander has strong network, massive funds

Sindo – October 29, 2008
Gerindra Party chairperson former General Prabowo Subianto (Tribune)
Gerindra Party chairperson former General Prabowo Subianto (Tribune)

Jakarta – The results of research and a political study by Charta Politika (Political Charter) has revealed that the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) has three sources of strength to help it win the 2009 legislative elections.

Strong support for the Gerindra Party will come from the mass network and supporters of retired General Prabowo Subianto, who is also the chair of the advisory board to the party with the Garuda bird as its symbol. According to the Charta Politika Executive Director Bima Arya Sugiarto, there are five key sources of mass support that are directly headed by Subianto.

These five networks could become a permanent source of votes and at the same time a mass base of support for the Gerindra Party. The five networks include, among others, the Indonesia Farmers Association (HKTI), the National Farmers Mainstay Group (KTNA), the All Indonesia Association of Market Traders (APPSI), the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) and the Supersemar Foundation founded by the Subianto’s former father-in-law, the late President Suharto.

“If Gerindra is able to take care of these mass networks, it could become a threat, including for the big parties,” said Sugiarto said explaining the results of his research in Jakarta yesterday. Furthermore, according to Sugiarto, the second strength that the Gerindra Party has in addition to Subianto’s background as the head of these five strategic organisations, is as a businessperson and also his military experience as the former commander of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) and the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus).

The third strength for the Gerindra party is strong financial support, primarily coming out of Subianto’s own pocket. Among other positions that he holds, he is the CEO of Nusantara Energi, which has assets valued at US$1 billion. Nusantara Energi is active in the forestry, plantation, mining, fisheries, pulp and paper and professional services sectors.

The Charta Politika research also noted that there was financial support from Subianto’s brother Hashim Sujono, the owner of Nations Energy, which has assets valued at US$2.3 billion. According to Sugiarto, the popularity and support for the Gerindra Party will grow and be sustained if Gerindra is able to strengthen its advertising campaign through socialisation, strengthening the grassroots base and the party’s social networks.

The party must also be able to translate the big concepts about economic nationalism, food security and industry into issues that are local in character. Sugiarto also said that Subianto as an individual figure has a huge influence over the pace and popularity of the party and organisational networks that are both strong and extensive. “Not to mention the non-stop ‘air attacks’ or advertisements that are concrete and grounded”, he said.

Gerindra Deputy Chairperson Fadli Zon meanwhile said that Gerindra and Subianto are like two sides of a coin that cannot be separated. “It has to be admitted that without Prabowo, Gerindra’s pace [of growth] would be slow, but indeed it is preferable if voting for a party that it is packaged as one with its presidential candidate”, he said. (fahmi faisa)

[Translated by James Balowski.]