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Ethical concerns stir as Indonesian President distributes aid near Prabowo-Gibran election campaign billboards

President Jokowi’s viral video distributing shirts amid campaign billboards of candidate pair Prabowo-Gibran raised ethical queries.

The juxtaposition of aid distribution and campaign materials raises concerns of potential misperception, fueling debates about neutrality versus personal initiatives in the public eye.

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INDONESIA: A video featuring President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) distributing shirts in an area adorned with campaign billboards of Presidential candidate pair number 2, Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the eldest son of President Joko Widodo, has garnered significant attention across various social media platforms.

The video was initially shared by Prof Dr Henri Subiakto, a political communication analyst, on his X (formerly Twitter) account on Tuesday (9 Jan).

In the accompanying caption, Prof Subikato described that President Jokowi was distributing social aid (bansos) in Banten Province, surrounded by posters promoting candidate pair number 02.

Prof Subikato raised ethical concerns regarding the President’s actions, suggesting that the presence of campaign materials around the President might mislead the public into perceiving the aid as a personal initiative rather than a government-sponsored program.

“Does this show that the president no longer has ethics? Is the President no longer embarrassed to appear to be distinctly not neutral? Or does this mean that the President is panicking and has to do all this to help presidential candidate Prabowo and his child?”

He expressed apprehension about the abnormal circumstances prevailing in the country ahead of the forthcoming elections, citing irregularities in survey data, social media activities, rulemaking, and even court decisions.

Prof Subikato concluded with a cautionary note about potential abnormalities in the election processes and outcomes.

“Unfortunately, many are perceiving and responding to the current election situation using conventional thinking. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising if the election process and its results are deemed unconventional.”

The post gained significant traction, accumulating over 3000 likes, 300 comments, and more than 1000 reposts.

Public reactions were polarized, with some expressing concern about the perceived lack of neutrality, while others questioned the veracity of the claims.

(Source: X Platform/@henrysubiakto)

Comments from social media users highlighted the polarizing impact of such actions on national unity.

Calls were made for the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) to intervene before the nation faces further division.

(Source: X Platform/@henrysubiakto)

Presidential staff counter claims of political ties amidst viral video controversy

Responding to the controversy, Chief Presidential Staff Moeldoko denied any connection between the charity event and support for the Prabowo-Gibran presidential candidate pair.

Moeldoko suggested that political parties and volunteers could take advantage of situations, including putting up posters at the last minute.

He emphasized that the placement of banners was the work of volunteers and not controlled by the state.

Moeldoko’s statements were echoed by Presidential Special Staff Coordinator Ari Dwipayana, who assured that the location of President Jokowi’s official visit in Banten on Monday (8 Jan) was free from campaign materials.

Ari explained that posters captured in the video were likely placed after the President had left the venue and that the event was followed by the distribution of social aid to the gathered public.

Ari further clarified that before the charity distribution, President Jokowi had attended a meeting with village heads organized by the Ministry of Village, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration.

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