After a failed bid to run in last year’s presidential election, veteran dangdut musician Rhoma Irama is taking another shot at politics by establishing a new political party.
Rhoma named his new outfit Partai Islam Damai Aman (Islamic Peace and Security Party), with its Indonesian acronym Idaman meaning “an object of desire.”
“I want to show Indonesia and the world that Islam is a peaceful and harmless religion, and is not identified with terrorists and radicals as how it has been stigmatized,” Rhoma, nicknamed King of Dangdut, said at a fast breaking event to launch the party in Jakarta.
Rhoma is famous for his religious-themed songs and musical films including “Satria Bergitar (Guitar-Wielding Knight)”, in which he played a guitar-toting vagabond on a mission to rescue a king’s daughter from an evil man who dethroned the monarch.
“I want to show the world that Islam is a religion that is rahmatan lil alamin [grace to all peoples], brings peace and is no harm to other religions,” said the 69-year-old singer known for anti-vice songs such as Judi (Gambling) and Mirasantika (Alcohol and Drugs) .
“This is not a lip service or strategy (to win support), but this is God’s order which I want to show to the world.”
Before the 2014 election, Rhoma expressed his readiness to run for the top job, but no party was willing to nominate him.
He launched a campaign team and an official group of supporters called Riforri or Rhoma Irama for President RI.
The National Awakening Party (PKB) initially said Rhoma was among several figures being considered to be its presidential candidates, but it instead aligned with PDI Perjuangan to support the candidacy of Joko Widodo, who went on to win the election.
Rhoma was a supporter of the United Development Party (PPP) during the rule of former president Soeharto, when only three political parties sanctioned by the government were allowed to exist.
When asked if he was disappointed with PKB and PPP Rhoma said “I have no regrets.”
Idaman secretary general Abdurrahman Tardjo said the party already had branches in all 34 provinces.
It aims to recruit up to 5,000 members in each district across the country through an online drive, said Abdurrahman, who is also a lawyer.
The party has not established a leadership structure and so far it only lists Rhoma as chairman and Abdurrahman as secretary general.
“We are finalising the organizational leadership structure and applying for validation from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights,” said Abdurrahman, who was one of PKB founders.
“We will officially declare the party on 17 August Independence Day celebration,” he said.
Abdurrahman added that the party aimed to contest the 2019 elections.
Wahed Unoe, an official of Forsa or Fans of Rhoma and Soneta – the singer’s band – said the group is yet to throw its support for the new party since it doesn’t have any political affiliation.
But he said the groups always supports Rhoma’s effort to uphold amar ma’ruf nahi munkar [enjoin good deeds and forbid evil] and religious outreach.
“He has been doing so through his songs and music and now he wants to do it through politics,” Wahed said.