Posted by: mel | May 31, 2009

Kalla lures Muslim voters in his hometown

Jakarta Post | Irawaty Wardany  |  Makassar   |  Sat, 05/30/2009  |  National

Vice President Jusuf Kalla has continued to win support from Muslim voters ahead of the July 8 presidential election, which he is contesting with running mate Wiranto.

He spent a one-day official trip to his hometown of Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Friday visiting a number of Muslim organizations.

In the morning he visited the Nahdlatul Ulum Islamic boarding school in Maros, near Makassar, to attend the institution’s seventh anniversary. The school was built on 3.3 hectares of land donated by his family.

The school’s principal, Sanusi Baco, expressed his support for Kalla and called on the people of Sulawesi, especially in the South and West, to vote for the Golkar Party chairman and Wiranto in the elections.

Sanusi said if Kalla were to be elected, he should always remember to uphold fairness and justice while leading the nation.

“A nation can only develop with the support and blessing of religious leaders,” Kalla said.

Speaking to the hundreds gathered at the school to hear him speak, Kalla said local values, passed down through Bugis-Makassar ancestors, should be preserved for the future.

“Let us uphold the culture of sincerity, persistence and hard work,” he said.

Kalla also met with the Chinese-Indonesian community at Xian Ma Temple in a show of support for pluralism.

Support for Kalla’s presidential bid also came from South Sulawesi’s Muhammadiyah Youth, whose leaders met with the Vice President later on Friday.

The group expressed allegiance to Kalla and said he was a true part of the country’s second largest Muslim organization.

“Kalla is a true Muhammadiyah follower because his mother hailed from a Muhammadiyah family,” the group’s leader, Abdullah Muhammad Nur, said.

He added that Kalla also deserved praise for his assistance to the Islamic movement in the region.

“We think he *Kalla* is a really straightforward leader. So we the Muhammadiyah Youth in South Sulawesi expect JK to lead the country,” Nur said, referring to Kalla by his nickname initials.

Kalla, who was accompanied by his wife Mufidah during the visit, expressed his belief that Indonesia could develop without dependence on foreign resources.

“We have the foundation to develop this nation into a great country. We only need to make full use all that is available to us,” he said.

His attendance at the 63rd anniversary of Nahdlatul Ulama’s women’s wing, Muslimat, capped off Kalla’s agenda for the day.

An embarrassing slip occurred when the Muslimat leader, Khofifah Indar Parawangsa, mistakenly referred to Kalla as the president when delivering her speech before a crowd of more than 1.000 at the Celebes Convention Center.

Kalla’s strategy of luring support from Muslim voters has been more visible recently, with the publication of a book about his wife Mufidah and Wiranto’s wife Rugaya. The book, titled “Devout wives of future leaders”, depicts the two ladies wear headscarves, or jilbab.

Last week Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) deputy secretary-general Zulkieflimansyah said an internal survey conducted by the Muslim-based party revealed that the appearance of the two women had helped raise their husbands’ profile as leaders.

PKS has officially signed a contract to support President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his running mate Boediono.

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