From left: Sandiaga Uno, Prabowo Subianto, Joko Widodo, and Ma’aruf Amin. Source:

Indonesians across the archipelago took to the polls on Wed (17 Apr) amid heightened Islamic religious conservatism and the proliferation of “fake news” surrounding the Joko Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin and Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno presidential candidate pairings prior to this election.

This year’s election – which currently sees incumbent President Joko Widodo being re-elected, as he and his running mate lead the popular vote with around 55.8 per cent against the Prabowo-Sandi duo after a quick count – did not take place without fanfare, as seen in the arrest of three women by police in West Java who were accused of carrying out a smear campaign against Jokowi in Feb.

The 2019 Indonesian Presidential Election Quick Count, as of Thu (18 Apr), 1842hrs (Singapore time). Source: The Jakarta Post

The three women – identified by the initials ES, IP dan CW – had allegedly, in the Sundanese language, discussed how Jokowi, who is known for his role in upholding Indonesia’s image as a moderate Muslim-majority country, would ban the azan (call to prayer) and the hijab (headscarf for Muslim women) should he be re-elected as President.

West Java Police have since identified and arrested the women for inciting hate speech under the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law.

Andre Rosiade, a spokesperson for the Prabowo-Sandi National Victory Body (BPN), denied allegations concerning the “black campaign” launched against Jokowi by the three women, which purported that the women were actually a part of the Prabowo-Sandi campaign team.

He told BBC Indonesia on 25 Feb that the BPN has never instructed either its campaign team or its volunteers to launch religiously-motivated defamatory campaigns, but had instead focused on its economic vision and mission for Indonesia.

“There is no such way of campaigning here at the BPN,” he added.

Sasmito, a media practitioner told TODAY in Jakarta last Sat (13 Apr) that while implementing anti-“fake news” legislation provides the “benefit” of an “instant solution”, it is “not the best solution” in the war against online disinformation, as citizens may be undeterred by legal sanctions and punishment.

“Every time a person gets arrested, there are 10 or even 100 ready to take over the position,” he said, adding: “Laws don’t tackle the problem at its roots. The key is to empower people to be able to spot disinformation and act properly on fighting it.”

Sasmito was one of around 40 journalists who had participated in a fact-checking initiative called Cekfakta (“check facts”), the brainchild of 24 news organisations in Indonesia almost a year ago.

Backed by Google via the Google News Lab programme, journalists conducted live-checking during presidential debates at the Internet giant’s Jakarta office, TODAY observed.

Journalists were “divided into six groups to cover six segments of the debate”, in addition to “a social media team that pushed the stories on Facebook and Twitter”, added TODAY.

In addition to the journalists’ own research, experts from multiple industries such as the economy and education – many from non-governmental organisations – were roped in to offer analysis and factual information regarding a relevant topic, for example when a candidate cites certain figures or makes certain claims.

General secretary of the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Indonesia Revolusi Riza Zulverdi told TODAY that the spike in campaigns launched by candidates and those who back them have contributed to the increased spread of falsehoods prior to the election.

He added that consequently, it is “a challenge to educate people on the issue and raise awareness on the importance of digital literacy”.

Executive director of non-governmental organisation Election and Democracy Titi Anggraini Mashudi told TODAY that the dangers of “fake news” can lead to catastrophic outcomes for the election, as it “has the ability to shape how people vote”.

“So, if they’re misinformed, their votes are misinformed,” she stressed.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

【选举】“中小企业已在加护病房” 朝野政党辩论解决危机之道

朝野政党今日在新传媒进行首场电视辩论。前进党蔡厝港集选区候选人阮健平、工人党盛港集选区候选人林志蔚、武吉巴督单选区候选人徐顺全,以及行动党武吉知马候选人维文,以英语针对本地就业、如何扶助企业以及促进社会流动性方面,提出看法。 阮健平形容,中小企业目前状况已形同在“加护病房”(ICU),而迫切需要有效的复苏政策;他也反问维文所谓10万就业机会的具体细节?因为数码大使等临时工也是工作,以及政府落实上述目标时限。 朝野政党也认同中小企业是国家经济的脊梁,阮健平认为,当前要解决失业率问题,理应着重国人就业优先;而民主党徐顺全也认同在疫情危机下,当有国人面对失业问题,应避免在引入外籍人才。至于维文则强调,行动党一直在关注的都是就业问题。 林志蔚:工人党多为国人、工友考量 不过,辩论后端,维文指自己也读了工人党的竞选宣言,却乘机暗讽工人党“像行动党”,指行动党也可以写出和工人党一样的宣言。 不过工人党候选人林志蔚也非省油的灯,也指该党不为反对而反对,再者大家是要正确能帮助到人民的政策。再者,该党宣言也是有根有据,都有统计考量。 “我觉得我们(与行动党)不同之处,在于我们考量权衡的地方不同,行动党可能比较倾向资本家,但我们则对每一分毫国家收入,都为国人、工友考量。” 至于维文则反驳徐顺全指责,行动党有意作“一千万人口”的规划,维文驳斥这是虚假声明。而徐顺全则强调有确有此事。他在辩论后在脸书发贴文,也指原副总理王瑞杰,曾引述“城市规划之父”刘太格在2014年曾提议,新加坡要保持长远永续成长,就应以人口达到一千万的情况作规划。 “把辩论带入国会中” 另一方面,林志蔚在总结时强调,行动党总会得到他们想要的委托,但是此次选举的重要一点,不是拒绝让行动党得到委托,而是拒绝行动党的口头支票。 故此林志蔚认为,此次选举更关乎,能够把辩论不仅仅局限于类似今晚的论坛,而是能够带到国会中。如果人民相信人民的心声要被听见,需要理性、理智对政策议题的讨论,那更应该“让您的一票成就未来”,投给工人党。

Chiam: Why do battle against voices of the people?

Today, Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the PAP will “do battle…

MOH confirms 407 additional cases of COVID-19; Brings total tally to 40,604

As of Sunday noon (14 June), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has…

MinLaw’s Means test for legal aid places tedious hurdles to pass, contrary to Minister Edwin Tong’s suggestion

Multiple debates and criticisms have sprung regarding the Protection from Online Falsehoods…