Like in other regions, the people of North Maluku, it seems, also have the same way of punishing a leader they perceive as having abandoned them. #aminkanIndonesia
ORTH Maluku, known as the province of a thousand islands, encompasses all the Halmahera Islands forming a “k” shape. Located east of Manado and west of Sorong, it once saw the existence of the Moloku Kie Raha, a once-prominent Islamic sultanate in the Nusantara in the 15th century, comprising Ternate, Tidore, Bacan, and Jailolo.
The people of North Maluku come from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, comprising no less than 28 tribes and languages.
Ethnolinguistically, they are identified as originating from Austronesian and non-Austronesian groups. The Austronesian group inhabits Central and Eastern Halmahera, while non-Austronesians are spread from North to South.
Socially and politically, there are five ethnic groups considered most influential: Ternate, Tidore, Tobelo, Galela, and Makian. These five ethnicities have colored the recent political constellation in North Maluku since its formation 24 years ago as a division from the Maluku Province with its capital in Ambon.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, in 2021, 74.5% of North Maluku’s population was Muslim, and 24.9% Protestant. The rest were less than 1%. Muslims are the majority in Western, Southern, Central, and Eastern Halmahera, and on several islands from Ternate, Tidore, Bacan in the West to Obi, Sula, and Taliabu in the South. Protestants dominate Northern Halmahera, with a larger population than Muslims.
In the 2019 Presidential Election in North Maluku, the Prabowo-Sandi pair outperformed Jokowi-Ma’ruf by nearly 11%. Geopolitically, Prabowo-Sandi won the Southern Region, while Jokowi-Ma’ruf won the Northern Region, each winning 5 districts/cities.
However, the social divide that occurred seemed more based on religion. Data showed that Prabowo-Sandi won convincingly in the predominantly Muslim areas of Ternate, Tidore, Southern Halmahera, Sula, and Taliabu.
Jokowi-Ma’ruf won two predominantly Protestant districts, Northern and Western Halmahera, and outperformed Prabowo-Sandi in three predominantly Muslim districts: Central Halmahera, Eastern Halmahera, and Morotai.
It can be concluded that the Muslim majority chose Prabowo-Sandi over Jokowi-Ma’ruf. And almost certainly, all non-Muslim voters chose Jokowi-Ma’ruf. If there were any Prabowo-Sandi voters among them, their numbers were very minimal.
A paradox, because if religiosity were the measure, then the Jokowi-Ma’ruf pair, seen as more “Islamic” than Prabowo-Sandi, should have been the preferred choice of Muslim voters due to KH. Ma’ruf Amin being an NU figure and former Chairman of the MUI, over Prabowo, who is perceived as less devout.
This shows that the religiosity factor (Islam) attached to the presidential and vice-presidential candidates at that time was not a measure for the Muslim community in North Maluku. They looked more at the supporting groups working behind each presidential and vice-presidential pair.
Everyone knows that virtually no Islamic or non-Islamic figures supported Prabowo-Sandi. As far as we know, only PA 212 supported them. But do not be mistaken, although not as big as NU, PA 212 might be considered by North Maluku’s Muslims as more fervently fighting for Islam, hence leaning towards Prabowo-Sandi.
Actually, as the incumbent, there was no reason for Jokowi-Ma’ruf to lose. They had all the prerequisites for victory, especially power and money. All state infrastructure, civilian and military, was still in their grasp as president. Even the social assistance from PKH and BLT distributed through the bureaucratic machine did not ensure Jokowi-Ma’ruf’s victory.
Similarly, with the supporting political parties, like PDIP, Golkar, NasDem, and PKB. Here, again, a paradox occurred. The supporting parties won the election in North Maluku, yet the candidates they supported lost.
But, will Prabowo, paired with Gibran, Jokowi’s son, again garner votes in North Maluku in the 2024 Presidential Election? Almost all my sources there confirm, no. Because, “the Prabowo now is not the Prabowo of the past. Even if North Maluku’s people are showered with PKH and BLT,” they say.
Like in other regions, the people of North Maluku, it seems, also have the same way of punishing a leader they perceive as having abandoned them.
* Yarifai Mappeaty. Columnist