AN Indonesian media mogul and property developer with close business ties to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump says he wants to make a similar presidential run in the Southeast Asian republic.
The billionaire, Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is more affectionately known as Hary Tanoe, recently said he was eyeing the country’s top post in the 2019 election and even has his own political party.
“If there is no one I can believe who can fix the problems of the country, I may try to run for president,” Tanoe was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Channel.
“Not for myself, for the country. “We need a leader with integrity who can bring a solution for the country,” he said.
Tanoe is currently building two Trump developments in Indonesia, including a Trump hotel in Jakarta with 300 villas and an 18-hole golf course designed by former world No 1 Ernie Els.
According to the ABC, the project in the capital is expected to be finished during Trump’s first term in office.
With the business relations and projects underway, Tanoe’s aspiration to become Indonesia’s president along with Trump’s position in the Oval Office creates what ABC describes as a “minefield” of potential conflicts of interest.
And while world leaders struggle with contacting the U.S. president-elect, Tanoe’s business link with Trump helps clear that hurdle.
“I have access to him of course, because we are in cooperation, but I have to limit the cooperation and interaction,” he was quoted as saying.
Tanoe said that day-to-day communication was mostly done with Trump’s adult children.
“The three of them. Each of them has different roles. Don junior has responsibility for the overall project, Eric the design and golf, and Ivanka more of detail — the fit-out of the hotel.”
Donald Trump's Indonesian business partner – Hary Tanoe – tells me he may run for president in 2019: "We need a leader with integrity". pic.twitter.com/pLeB9uTq9S
— Adam Harvey (@adharves) December 30, 2016
With family @disneycaliforniaadventure pic.twitter.com/EnmxBpb7jd
— Hary Tanoesoedibjo (@Hary_Tanoe) December 31, 2016
The billion-dollar project is also expected to feature an adjoining theme park similar to Disneyland.
According to The Guardian, the 50-year-old Tanoe, unlike Trump, has had a footing in national politics. In 2014, the Indonesian billionaire attempted to get a nomination for vice-president, setting up the United Indonesia political party. For publicity, Tanoe relies on Twitter and appearances on his TV stations.
Following Trump’s victory in November, Tanoe’s company Global Mediacom, also known as MNC Group, saw stocks rise significantly.
During the last election in Indonesia, Tanoe backed former general Prabowo Subianto who took on Joko “Jokowi” Widodo but lost. This means Trump’s business interests in Indonesia is being handled by the current president’s political rival.
Tanoe’s political ambitions could also pose a problem to the Trump administration as he had already arranged for the incoming president to meet with two controversial Indonesian politicians – Setya Novanto who is embroiled in a US$4 billion corruption scandal and Fadli Zon who is linked to religious hardliners calling for the jailing of Jakarta’s Christian governor over blasphemy allegations.
Known locally as Ahok, Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is from Indonesia’s Chinese-Christian minority, is facing controversial blasphemy case which observers say is racially motivated.
Despite Ahok’s predicament, Tanoe who is also a Chinese Christian, said Indonesia was ready to receive a leader from any community.
“The majority of the people are more realistic. They want to see a leader who can bring solutions,” he said.
Tanoe also fingered Jokowi for the angry protests that erupted in Jakarta in wake of the blasphemy case, saying the president did not respond “quickly enough” to prevent the rally that saw nearly half a million people take to the streets.
“The issue is more with President Jokowi. He has to show his leadership is firm enough to make people calm down.”