Joko Widodo (Jokowi)-Ma'ruf Amin campaign team launched new economic ideas, which has been labelled as Ma’rufnomics. This economic thinking complemented by program recommendations is intended to be a new narrative branding for the vice presidential candidate in the 2019 Presidential Election. Although it fits in with Kyai Ma’ruf’s capacity so far, this new concept is not necessarily effective in hoisting electability.
Last Wednesday (10/17) last week, the vice president candidate with election number 1 delivered a public lecture at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. In front of 150 invited guests consisting of representatives of the government, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and academics from various countries, Ma’ruf talked about the concept of fair economy and Islam wasathiyah (Islamic moderation) in Indonesia.
A day before, Ma'ruf also spoke about the same thing when meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore Palace. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Chairman explained about the government’s efforts to address Indonesia’s socio-economic problems by building a fair economy and the importance of reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and narrowing disparity in welfare among regions.
When hosted by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Minister of State Maliki Osman at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Singapore, Ma’ruf also spoke again about the ideas. He also reiterated the same message when he met with the Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore I Wayan Ngurah Swajaya, the Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartarto, and a number of Indonesian citizens at the Indonesian Embassy.
Ma’rufnomics or New Currents of Indonesian Economy, as Ma’ruf stated on several occasions, is based on the fifth principle of Pancasila that embodies a social economy with social justice. It emphasizes the equal distribution of the gap between the rich and the poor, the strong with the weak, among regions, and between local and global products.
Based on information obtained by Katadata.co.id, the campaign team indeed set Ma’rufnomics as the new narrative for the vice presidential candidate. The economic-based branding was eventually chosen after considering many aspects in terms of Ma’ruf’s own personal capacity as well as the campaign needs and interests of the right image concept.
Deputy Chairman of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf National Campaign Team (TKN) Rosan Perkasa Roeslani admitted Ma’rufnomics is indeed the most appropriate branding narrative for their vice presidential candidate. The narrative of the people’s economy was chosen because it is in accordance with the capacity of the Rais Aam Syuriah (Supreme Leader) of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU) as a Muslim scholar with the depth and breadth of his knowledge, especially in the field of Islamic economics.
Therefore, Rosan denied accusations that it was forced to be chosen because Ma’ruf’s figure is not suitable to attract millennial voters, who are indeed the target of each candidate pair in 2019 Presidential Election. “Attracting the millennials is the duty of others. So each person adjusts to their own expertise and capacity,” he said.
This is why, since being nominated as a vice president candidate to accompany President Joko Widodo, Ma’ruf immediately expressed his ideas about Indonesia’s economic development strategy.
His ideas are referred to as "new currents" because it focused on mainstreaming the people’s economy, which has been positioned as an alternative thinking in the economy. Therefore, in terms of segments, this narrative is intended to answer the socio-economic problems faced by the grassroots.
Although also discussing the people’s economy, the Executive Director of Narasi Institute Rama Pratama who participated in popularizing the Ma'rufnomics said its conception, as told by Ma'ruf himself, is not the Islamic economy owned by Muslims alone, but the people’s economy that refers to universal value-based economic ideas.
Therefore, the people referred to are all religious people who interact with each other in the frame of Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. When the people’s economy is developed in the corridor of the Muslim community, it does not mean to exclude other people. Developing the people’s economy means empowering all, focusing on equity, social justice, and concern to minimize the current economic inequality.
The support for Ma'rufnomics given by Rama – a former member of the House of Representatives (DPR) from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) – clearly attracted attention. However, TKN Spokesperson Arya Sinulingga said Rama only supported Ma’ruf’s economic thinking personally. “This has nothing to do with PKS,” he said.
Meanwhile, Narasi Institute is a public policy think tank filled with young people from various political backgrounds and disciplines.
According to Political Observer and Director of KedaiKOPI survey institute Hendri Satrio, the Ma’rufnomics concept is not necessarily effective in hoisting electability of the Islamic Economic Law Professor from the Maulana Malik Ibrahim State Islamic University (UIN) Malang. Instead, he considered the concept as proof that the campaign team faced difficulties in formulating Ma’ruf's political branding because his election as vice president candidate was not to sustain electability.
According to him, Ma’ruf was chosen to minimize the attacks on political identity directed toward the government. The relationship between the government and Islamic groups over the past few years has been dominated by issues such as the rise of communism, the dissolution of mass organizations, and the persecution of Ulema (Muslim clerics).
Ma’ruf, as a senior cleric and leader of the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia who is highly respected, including among the opposition, does have a strong capacity to maintain stability. The reason is that one of Jokowi’s weak points is his lacking a good connection with Islamic groups.
This is why Hendri considered the narrative of the people's economy is not appropriate to be given to Ma’ruf as electability booster. The former member of the Presidential Advisory Council in the era of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) is better off starting to play the role of grassroots cleric or preacher for the wider community like Ustad Abdul Somad who had been recommended by the Forum Ijtima Ulama as vice presidential candidate of Prabowo Subianto.
By diligently preaching to the wider community who will become voters later, Ma'ruf will have a great opportunity to boost popularity and electability. If he delivers his preach properly, there is a possibility that this former DPR member from the National Awakening Party (PKB) will also be able to attract millennial voters like Somad whose preaching is able to reach young people. “Reaching the millennials does not depend on age, but the delivery of content,” Hendri said.