Indonesian House Leaders Face Ethics Probe After Cozying Up to Donald Trump

Selfie with Donald Trump at Trump Plaza, New York.

Indonesian House Speaker Setya Novanto and Deputy House Speaker Fadli Zon were heavily criticized for attending a campaign rally and taking a selfie with United States Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during their official visit in New York.

Aside from getting a backlash on social media, the two ranking leaders of Congress have been reported to the Ethics Council.

At one of his rallies, Trump asked the house speaker if he is admired in Indonesia.

Novanto's response sparked outrage in the country. An online petition was immediately drafted demanding the resignation of the house speaker and his deputy.

You're a shameless fool, @fadlizon, to think that we like him? Don't sell out our voices! You're nothing but a sellout.

The Zonk, just like Amien Rais, said that America is Dajjal, yet he's lobbying Donald Trump to invest.

In Islam, Dajjal is an evil figure who wreaks havoc ahead of Judgement Day. It is comparable to the anti-Christ or Armilus.

We paid their salaries for this? Outrageous! I can't believe I paid my taxes for these ass kissers.

Fadli Zon is deputy chief and co-founder of the Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra), which is currently part of the opposition bloc.

Prabowo recently made a speech about [opposing] foreign ownership. Fadli Zon now claimed Trump as a personal friend who invested in his region, bla bla.

The tweet above mentioned Prabowo, who was the losing presidential candidate of Gerindra Party.

When @fadlizon and Setya Novanto attended that event and took a selfie with Donald Trump, nobody condemns Gerindra or Golkar.

The tweet above refers to the online backers of Gerindra, who are notorious for mocking the current government's policies.

Shamsi Ali, a prominent cleric and Indonesian community leader in New York, deplored the decision of Novanto and Zon to attend Donald Trump's event. On his Facebook page, Shamsi said that it is unethical for the house speaker to endorse a candidate and attend Trump's campaign rally. He reminded the House speaker that Trump continues to be unapologetic despite his racist rants against immigrants and Muslims. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-dominated nation in the world.

Responding directly to Shamsi, Fadli Zon accused the cleric of circulating rumors and false information. Through a WhatsApp message, he threatened to file a cybercrime suit if the cleric will not redact his statement. Shamsi received an outpouring of support from Indonesia's online community after he posted Zon's threat on Facebook.

According to the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra), the New York trip made by the House leaders and the legislators who accompanied them cost at least 4.6bn Rupiah (about 326,000 US dollars). Many questioned the rationale of spending this amount while the economy is struggling to survive.

Indonesian researcher Made Supriatma questioned the loyalty of the House leaders who met Trump and urged Indonesian voters to remember this incident:

Mengapa Trump, ditengah-tengah jadwal padat kampanye dan sebagai pengusaha ini menyempatkan diri untuk bertemu dua politisi Indonesia ini? […]

Juga saya ternganga ketika Trump memperkenalkan Setya Novanto, “The speaker of the house of Indonesia, he's here to see me. Setya Novanto, one of the most powerful men and a great man … And his whole group is here to see me today. And we will do great things for the United States is that correct?”

Untuk Trump yang sangat terkenal akan self-centered, uang dan kekuasaan, memiliki sekutu seperti Novanto itu tentu sangat tepat. Dan, ‘he is here to see me …’ dia ada disini untuk menemui saya! Untuk sowan saya! Luar biasa bukan?

yang lebih serius: mereka memang satu ide dengan Trump. Mereka menyempatkan diri untuk makan siang bersama. Kita tidak tahu apa yang mereka bahas. Semua orang tahu, dengan Trump, tidak ada makan siang yang gratis. Kalau Trump mengatakan, “We will do great things for the United States …” maka kita boleh menduga apa itu?

Padahal sentiment anti-Amerika cukup tinggi di dalam publik Indonesia. Kedua wakil rakyat Indonesia ini ‘will do great things for the United States.” Bukan untuk Indonesia! Saya ulangi, “the great things for the United States!” Dan, Novanto pun membebek dengan mengatakan, “Yes!”

Jadi, kalau suatu saat Setya Novanto atau Fadli Zon bicara tentang kecintaannya terhadap Indonesia, Anda boleh ingat-ingat perjumpaannya dengan Donald Trump ini.

Why did Trump, with his busy schedule as a candidate and as a businessman, make time to meet these two Indonesian politicians?

I was stunned when Trump introduced Setya Novanto, “The speaker of the House of Indonesia, he's here to see me. Setya Novanto, one of the most powerful men and a great man … And his whole group is here to see me today. And we will do great things for the United States, is that correct?”

Anti-US sentiments rank high among the Indonesian public. Those two Indonesian representatives “will do great things for the United States.” Not for Indonesia! I repeat, “great things for the United States!” And Novanto absentmindedly answered, “Yes!”

So, the next time Setya Novanto or Fadli Zon speak about their love for Indonesia, you may remember this encounter with Donald Trump.

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