Aside from admitting that he likes rock music, Jakarta’s gubernatorial candidate Joko Widodo, who is also (of course) known as Jokowi, says that he likes dangdut music, a popular Indonesian genre with an Indian-style beat. Joko added that he especially likes songs by the King of Dangdut, Rhoma Irama.
“Wow, I am a big fan of Bang Haji,” Jokowi told reporters on Saturday, referring to the singer by the title added to the name of someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. “From the beginning [with the song] ‘Terajana,’ I know all the words. Ask me to sing it, and I can!”
Jokowi said he also liked the lyrics to the song “135 juta” (“135 million”), which carries a message about diversity and pluralism. The lyrics say that Indonesia’s population of 135 million is made up of many different ethnic groups that must not insult one another, because together they are one nation.
“I like the message of that song, about how we value difference and do not criticize one another on ethnic or religious grounds,” he explained.
Jokowi did not take issue with the news of Rhoma’s alleged divisive attacks on issues of religion, race and ethnicity by asking voters to choose a leader of the same religion.
“I’m not joking, if you asked me to sing 10 songs by Bang Haji I could probably do it,” Jokowi said instead.
Last week, at the Al-Isra mosque in Tanjung Duren, West Jakarta, Rhoma gave a speech asking the attendees not to support or vote for a gubernatorial candidate who is not of the same religion as them.
The King of Dangdut urged those in attendance to choose the candidate pairing of Fauzi Bowo and Nachrowi Ramli, because they are Muslims. The comment was seen as an attack on Jokowi’s running partner Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is Christian.