This Feared General Who Rebranded As A Cute TikTok Grandpa Is Set To Become Indonesia’s New President

As a general, Prabowo Subianto was involved with kidnapping and torturing pro-democracy activists, many of whom are still missing and feared dead.

This Feared General Who Rebranded As A Cute TikTok Grandpa Is Set To Become Indonesia’s New President

Indonesians have elected a once feared general, Prabowo Subianto, as the country’s next president after he rebranded himself as a cute dancing grandfather.

Indonesia new president Prabowo Subianto

The 72-year-old politician declared himself winner along with his running mate, current President Joko Widodo’s son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, when unofficial results showed he had received about 58% of the votes on Wednesday Feb. 14.

Indonesia cute grandpa president
Former military general and head of the Gerindra Party, Prabowo Subianto (L), delivers a speech as former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri (R), the head of Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle, looks on during their presidential proclamation at a rubbish dump in Bantar Gebang on May 24, 2009. (AFP PHOTO/Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images)

Official preliminary results from the electoral committee appeared to suggest he had a winning lead to his opponents, with Subianto receiving 57.7% of votes with only 6% counted.

Indonesia cuddly grandpa
Prabowo Subianto, presidential candidate and Indonesia’s defense minister, right, greets supporters with Gibran Rakabuming Raka, vice-presidential candidate and son of President Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s president, during a campaign rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb. 10, 2024. (Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg)

Subianto was a general under Indonesia’s most brutal and corrupt dictatorship, led by the country’s longest serving president Suharto, who was also Prabowo’s father-in-law.

72-year-old Prabowo Subianto
A 20 March 1998 file picture shows head of the Indonesian elite Kopassus forces, Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta. (AFP PHOTO/KEMAL JUFRI (Photo by KEMAL JUFRI / AFP FILES / AFP)

During his time as a general, Prabowo was involved with kidnapping and torturing pro-democracy activists, many of whom are still missing and feared dead.

He has also been accused of committing other human rights abuses in East Timor and Papua during the dictatorship, which he has denied.

Indonesia new president cute cuddly grandpa Prabowo Subianto
Protesters are shouting slogans during a rally against alleged fraud in the February 14 presidential election outside the General Election Supervisory Agency office in Jakarta, Indonesia, on February 19, 2024. (Photo by Garry Lotulung/NurPhoto)

Prabowo was dishonorably discharged from the military over the violations.

The United States even placed a two decade ban due to his human rights violations record, which was later lifted after he become minister of defense in 2019.

Prabowo Subianto Indonesia Presumed President
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, the current Defence Minister, addresses supporters at an event on February 14, 2024 in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)

Prabowo ran for president three times, but this time he rebranded himself as “cuddly uncle” to younger voters who were not aware of his dark past, according to political analysts.

He also had the support of the popular current president Joko Widodo.

Cute grandpa cuddly president indonesia

Campaign posters showed sweet cartoon versions of him and Gibran.

Meanwhile on TikTok, edits of Subianto dancing have gained million of views, with people calling him cute and giving their support.

“He targeted a younger demographic by remaking his image through cartoon figures, as a cuddly uncle, casting a kind of a doubt over his human rights record, which for a younger generation is sort of an ancient history for the most part,” political lecturer, Ian Wilson, told Al Jazeera.

2024 Indonesia election result president Prabowo Subianto
This photo taken on October 26, 2023 shows Maria Catarina Sumarsih holding a portrait of her slain son Norman Irmawan alias Wawan (R), who was shot dead by the army after the 1998 fall of dictator Suharto, alongside portraits of other fallen activists as she protests near the presidential palace in Jakarta. (Photo by Adek BERRY / AFP) / To go with AFP story Indonesia-politics-vote-Subianto by Jack Moore (Photo by ADEK BERRY/AFP via Getty Images)

Prabowo ran on a campaign of economic development, promising free lunches to children’s across Indonesia and moving Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to Nusantara, a promise projected started by president Widodo.

His opponents, governor of Central Java Ganjar Pranowo and independent candidate Anies Baswedan, have yet to concede victory.

Indonesia presidential result
Supporters take photographs with mascots depicting presidential candidate and Indonesia’s Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and vice presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka during their election campaign event at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta on February 5, 2024. (Photo by Adek BERRY / AFP)

They said they will wait until official results are announced, which are expected by March 20.

You Might Also Be Interested In

This Indonesian TikToker Has Been Jailed For Two Years For Eating Pork After Reciting An Islamic Prayer
Indonesia Has Passed A New Law Banning Sex Outside Of Marriage And Unauthorized Protests

Subscribe To The Almost Newsletter For More