Election fever hits Indonesia as candidates polarize netizens

Election fever hits Indonesia as candidates polarize netizens

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 – 10:08

The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

INDONESIA – For those Indonesians uninterested in politics, logging in to Facebook or Twitter is a frustrating experience these days.

“I’ve limited my newsfeed to close friends,” Ira Hairida, a blogger from Palembang, South Sumatra, wrote on her Facebook wall. She said she was tired of people posting political statuses and verbally attacking the presidential contenders.

The country is experiencing its most polarizing presidential election ever, with Indonesians, mainly those with Internet access, sharply divided between the soft-spoken entrepreneur Joko “Jokowi Widodo, and the strong-willed former general Prabowo Subianto.

Ira said the zealous campaigning of both camps had overstepped the mark. “[Their attitude is] you’re either with us or against us.”

The Internet has undeniably become the main battlefield for politicians in their quest to seek public support.

With only a few weeks until the election on July 9, hard-core supporters of both contenders are spending more time online either promoting or refuting scathing information about their candidates on the Internet.

Politicawave, a site monitoring political conversation on social media – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online forums, online news and YouTube – said the Internet was a hotbed for vibrant debate on the election due to the nature of the Internet.

“On social media, a tweet can be shared [easily and quickly]. So it’s easier and faster to spread,” Politicawave director Yose Rizal told The Jakarta Post over the weekend. That was why the Internet was also the perfect place to spread rumours and lies, he added.

Yose cited the recent rumour circulating on social media outlets, which said Jokowi was a Christian of Chinese descent. “It prompted many people to look for information on Jokowi’s religion via Google,” Yose said.

Jokowi has refuted such claims, saying he has always been a Muslim, but those versed in the dark arts of the smear campaign upped their game by publishing what appeared to be a marriage certificate and an obituary advertisement purportedly showing Jokowi’s real name as Herbertus Handoko Joko Widodo or Oey Hong Liong.

“This is clearly a form of negative campaigning,” Yose said.

Jokowi has also been faced with the claim that he had been summoned by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in connection with a corruption case that occurred under his administration.

The AGO denied the claim, saying it had no intention to summon the presidential candidate from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)-led coalition.

Politicawave said Jokowi was the biggest target of smear campaigns. According to its data, the number of negative conversations relating to Jokowi reached 67 per cent, out of the total discussions on the two presidential candidates, compared to 33 per cent for his rival, Prabowo.

However, the number of positive conversations on Jokowi trounced Prabowo with 72 per cent over 28 per cent. Jokowi is more discussed on social media than Prabowo with 60 per cent over 40 per cent.

“Jokowi is getting a lot of support online, but he is also being attacked heavily [via smear campaigns],” Yose said.

Supporters of Prabowo have been trying their best to clear their candidate of human rights abuse allegations.

Prabowo, the presidential candidate from the Gerindra Party-led coalition, was accused of masterminding the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists during Soeharto’s downfall in 1998, an allegation that has been used by Jokowi supporters to attack the former general’s credibility.

Randy Remigius, a 26-year-old bank employee who supports Jokowi, said the amount of negative campaigns on social media was too much.

“The competition is already unhealthy,” he said.

He said he now usually only paid attention to posts promoting Jokowi and ignored most of those supporting Prabowo.

Tamarind Puri Khiranti Indra, an Indonesian living in Australia, said she usually skipped articles she deemed biased or to be attacks on a particular candidate without being backed up by the proper facts.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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