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SpirE-Journal 2008 Q4

Indonesia’s love affair with Obama

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Indonesia’s love affair with Obama

Indonesia is reveling in its special relationship with newly-appointed US president Barack Obama. Even before the results of the election were announced on November 5 this year, fans in Jakarta had already prepared a celebration in anticipation of an Obama victory.

The party, named “Indonesia Obama Celebration”, was held earlier that day at the Bellagio Apartments in Mega Kuningan, and at Cilandak town Square in South Jakarta. There, Obama’s fans discussed his platform while monitoring the early results of the count. Most attendees were certain of Obama’s win based on the results of exit polls which were favourable to Obama.

Invitations to attend the event were distributed some days ago to 1,500 members of “Indonesia for Obama”, registered in Facebook.com. The “Indonesia for Obama” community was formed in February 2008. Members include Indonesian citizens who support Obama’s presidency and friends of Obama’s when he was still studying in Menteng, South Jakarta. Obama had spent his childhood in Indonesia when his mother remarried a local there.

Former Indonesian classmates swelled with pride when Obama won. They congratulated the Democratic candidate for becoming the first black president of America. Hundreds of students at Obama’s old school, the Menteng 1 primary school, celebrated Obama’s election win by shouting “Long live Obama!” and “Obama wins! McCain loses!” as classes were stopped to watch the election coverage on local television.

“It’s just great. We’re very happy and proud to have Barack Obama win the election,” headmaster Kuwadiyanto said, adding that there was an emotional connection between the students and Obama.

Obama’s victory also seems to have excited Indonesia’s tourist industry. The head of Bali Tourism Board Ngurah Wijaya said, “Now that he is elected, maybe more people will want to visit Indonesia — including Bali — just to see the country where he grew up.”

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