cloudyn.png
Friday August 14th, 2020 3:57AM

Asian Games stir Indonesia's pride, boost Jokowi's campaign

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's hosting of the Asian Games and a record haul of gold medals have swelled national pride, boosting the re-election campaign of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The 2-week games ended Saturday with Indonesia fourth on the medal table behind China, Japan and South Korea. A good chunk of its 31 gold medals were in obscure sports held only at the Asian Games, and none was from swimming or athletics.

But for Indonesia, which has won only seven Olympic gold medals — all in badminton — it was a landmark haul that outdid its modest ambition of sneaking into the top 10.

A well-received opening ceremony, an absence of major organizational problems and Jokowi's surprise announcement Saturday that Indonesia would bid for the 2032 Olympics have fueled feel-good nationalism that analysts say is likely to lift Jokowi in voters' sentiments heading to an April election.

That would widen his already substantial lead over former general and ultranationalist politician Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi's challenger for a second time.

The games will "certainly have a positive impact on Jokowi's electability," said Syamsuddin Haris, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. "The spectacular opening ceremony became a successful campaign for the incumbent, especially to attract swing voters and millennials whose numbers are very significant."

Jokowi was compared to Barack Obama when first elected in 2014, and he and his advisers have cultivated a "cool cred" around his presidency.

That was evident two weeks ago in his cameo at the opening ceremony before a crowd of 40,000 and a national television audience.

A slickly choreographed video showed Jokowi stuck in traffic — a humorous nod to one of Jakarta's major challenges in hosting the games. He donned a black helmet and raced through the city's backstreets on a motorbike to reach the stadium on time.

Then the motorbike shown in the video sped into the stadium and its helmeted driver disappeared into a tunnel moments before the real Jokowi appeared in the VIP area to thunderous applause.

It resembled part of the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, where Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond appeared to skydive into the stadium.

In another moment that riveted Indonesians, Jokowi was shown enthusiastically grooving to music blasting across the stadium, a stark contrast to the morbid formality of most Southeast Asian leaders.

Haris said the games also positively highlighted ethnic and religious differences in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with more than 260 million people, making it harder to exploit those divisions during the election campaign, he said.

"The Indonesian people saw how the athletes are fighting for victory, for gold medals, and the winners are not only Muslim, but also of Chinese descent, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist," Haris said. "This will certainly dampen the sectarian and ethnic issues used in the 2014 presidential elections."

Despite Jokowi's prominence, Subianto wasn't totally deprived of oxygen.

As chairman of the Pencak Silat association — a local martial art included in these games — he was shown on national television presenting some of the 14 gold medals that Indonesia won in the discipline, and in a group hug with Jokowi and one of the winners.

But he was also mocked online with a mercilessly effective meme that juxtaposed a recent image of a shirtless and flabby Subianto against the washboard abs of an Indonesian heartthrob who jubilantly tore off his shirt after winning gold in the men's badminton singles.

Young Indonesians make up 35-40 percent of voters and will play a "decisive" role in the 2019 presidential race, said Hugo Brennan, Asia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a business and political risk consultancy.

"Jokowi's motorcycle stunt during the opening ceremony was widely shared on social media and will have burnished his 'cool credentials' among this important constituency," he said.

The PR win comes less than a month after Jokowi unexpectedly chose a conservative cleric, Ma'ruf Amin, as his running mate, dismaying moderate and liberal supporters but likely neutralizing damaging criticism that he isn't sufficiently Islamic.

Most of his five-year term has been spent balancing the demands of his moderate base, powerful Islamic conservatives, a complicated parliamentary coalition and the military, which has never completely accepted its diminished role following the end of the Suharto dictatorship two decades ago.

Improving Indonesia's creaking infrastructure has been Jokowi's signature policy — the Asian Games indirectly highlighted some of the progress — and he enters the campaign the clear but not unbeatable front-runner.

If it's any consolation for Prabowo, who was narrowly defeated by Jokowi in 2014, the games afterglow will fade and is unlikely to be a decisive factor when the world's third largest democracy votes in April, analysts said.

"I think Jokowi's and Indonesia's performance in the Asian Games will give the president a bit of a bump in the polls but I'm not sure it significantly changes his odds of re-election," said Eurasia Group analyst Peter Mumford.

"Any benefit from the Asian Games may have dissipated by then. But certainly doesn't do him any harm," he said.

Jokowi, however, appears intent on extending its shelf life, announcing alongside the president of the International Olympic Committee on Saturday that because of the success of the Asian Games, Indonesia will bid for the 2032 Olympics.

___

Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
McCain Notebook: Tributes, memories, tears, civility lessons
McCain Notebook: Tribute in Washington includes memories, tears and lessons in civility
9:45PM ( 4 minutes ago )
What a shot! Federer 'unreal' in US Open win over Kyrgios
What a shot! Roger Federer hits a 'special' and 'unreal' winner around the net post during his straight-set victory over Nick Kyrgios at the U.S. Open
9:28PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Brazil leftist party insists on banned candidate da Silva
Brazilians are reacting with a mixture of satisfaction, sadness and resignation to a decision by the country's top electoral court barring former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from October's presidential election
9:26PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Brazil has mixed feelings over barring of da Silva candidacy
Brazilians are reacting with a mixture of satisfaction, sadness and resignation to a decision by the country's top electoral court barring former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from October's presidential election
7:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump visits golf course while Washington mourns McCain
As political dignitaries gathered in Washington to memorialize Sen. John McCain, Trump tweeted familiar grievances and headed to the golf course
5:20PM ( 4 hours ago )
Police reports detail O'Rourke's '98 drunken-driving arrest
Police documents from a decades-old drunken-driving arrest of Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke provide a more completely picture of an incident that the congressman has long acknowledged
1:43PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Elections
Brazil's Lula da Silva barred from running for presidency
A majority of justices on Brazil's electoral court has voted to bar ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running in October's presidential election, virtually ending any chance that the front-runner will get on the ballot
11:20PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP sources: Lawyer was told Russia had 'Trump over a barrel'
Justice Department lawyer was told Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel" during the 2016 presidential campaign
10:52PM ( 22 hours ago )
The Latest: Court majority blocks ex-president in Brazil
A majority of justices on Brazil's electoral court have voted to bar ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running in October's presidential election, virtually ending his candidacy
10:25PM ( 23 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Dutch terror threat level stays at 4 of 5
The Netherlands' counter-terror chief says the country's threat level will remain at four on a scale that tops out at five following a double stabbing at the city's main railway station that officials say had a "terrorist motive."
7:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
Amsterdam: 'Terrorist motive' alleged in attack on Americans
Authorities in Amsterdam allege a 19-year-old Afghan citizen had a "terrorist motive" for stabbing two Americans at train station
6:15PM ( 3 hours ago )
Ugandan opposition pop star flies to US for treatment
A Ugandan pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker says he's arrived in the United States for medical care after allegedly being tortured while in detention
5:25PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP World News
Guatemala president nixes renewal for UN anti-graft body
Guatemala's president says he is not renewing the mandate of a crusading U.N.-sponsored anti-graft commission that has pressed a number of high-profile corruption probes _ including one pending against himself
9:37PM ( 1 day ago )
Arkansas governor's nephew leaves state Senate amid charges
A nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has resigned from the state Senate after being charged with spending thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal expenses
7:06PM ( 1 day ago )
Kentucky Sec of State's father accused of campaign fraud
Jerry Lundergan indicted on charges related to Alison Lundergan Grimes' 2014 U.S. Senate campaign
5:32PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
McCain Notebook: Tributes, memories, tears, civility lessons
McCain Notebook: Tribute in Washington includes memories, tears and lessons in civility
9:45PM ( 5 minutes ago )
What a shot! Federer 'unreal' in US Open win over Kyrgios
What a shot! Roger Federer hits a 'special' and 'unreal' winner around the net post during his straight-set victory over Nick Kyrgios at the U.S. Open
9:28PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Brazil leftist party insists on banned candidate da Silva
Brazilians are reacting with a mixture of satisfaction, sadness and resignation to a decision by the country's top electoral court barring former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from October's presidential election
9:26PM ( 24 minutes ago )
US agency examines front tires of semi-trailer that hit bus
A federal investigator says he is sending the front tires of a semi-trailer that veered across a median and smashed into a Greyhound bus _ killing eight people and wounding 50 others _ to Washington, D.C., for further examination
9:18PM ( 32 minutes ago )
The Latest: Sharapova beats No. 10 seed Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2
The Latest: Maria Sharapova improved to 23-0 in U.S. Open night matches by beating No. 10 seed Jelena Ostapenko
9:02PM ( 48 minutes ago )