SBY hospitalised; Democrat-Gerindra talks postponed

Democratic Party founder Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was admitted to hospital due to exhaustion on July 17, 2018.
Democratic Party founder Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was admitted to hospital due to exhaustion on July 17, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

A much anticipated meeting between opposition Gerindra Party chief Prabowo Subianto and Democratic Party founder Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was postponed because the latter has been hospitalised for exhaustion.

Dr Yudhoyono, 68, was exhausted from his visits to Pacitan regency in East Java and Yogyakarta, and was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, said Democratic Party deputy chairman Syarifuddin Hasan yesterday.

Democratic Party spokesman Imelda Sari said doctors treating the elder statesman had ordered him to rest for "a couple of days".

Separately, Dr Yudhoyono's wife Ani posted on Instagram a photo of her husband working in bed at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Jakarta, with the caption in Bahasa Indonesia: "Whatever the condition, duty shall be fulfilled."

The former president, popularly known as SBY, and Mr Prabowo, 66, had been expected to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition to challenge President Joko Widodo when he runs for re-election next year.

The meeting, originally set for last night, coincided with rumours that Mr Prabowo had invited Dr Yudhoyono's elder son, former army major Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, 39, to be his running mate in the upcoming presidential race.

Democratic Party founder and former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono working from his hospital bed after he was admitted for exhaustion on Tuesday. His meeting with Gerindra Party chief Prabowo last night has been postponed.
Democratic Party founder and former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono working from his hospital bed after he was admitted for exhaustion on Tuesday. His meeting with Gerindra Party chief Prabowo last night has been postponed. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ ANIYUDHOYONO

Mr Prabowo on Tuesday also met Ms Puan Maharani, a senior member of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

He did not comment after the meeting with Ms Puan but it triggered speculation that Gerindra could possibly be joining forces with the ruling party backing Mr Joko's bid for re-election. Ms Puan is the daughter of PDI-P founder and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

More than 170 million Indonesians will head to the polls next April to elect their president and lawmakers at the same time. Campaigning for the presidential race will begin officially on Sept 23.

The presidential race is expected to be a rerun of the last polls in 2014, with a straight fight between Mr Prabowo and Mr Joko.

Indonesians have been gripped by intense speculation on possible political coalitions and presidential candidates in recent days.

Mr Joko has narrowed his choice of a running mate to five candidates, confirming on Monday that they included Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto, former chief justice Mahfud M.D. and outgoing West Nusa Tenggara Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi, better known as Tuan Guru Bajang or TGB.

Besides Mr Agus, the shortlist of candidates for Mr Prabowo's running mate, according to Gerindra, include Prosperous Justice Party nominee Ahmad Heryawan, National Mandate Party chairman Zulkifli Hasan, and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who is not a member of any political party.

Registration for the presidential election is from Aug 4 to 10.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'SBY hospitalised; Democrat-Gerindra talks postponed'. Print Edition | Subscribe