Amid crackdown on satire, President Jokowi’s son free to parody politics

President Joko Widodo’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, took netizens by surprise with his recent Instagram post, where he seems to imply that he’s ready to be “RI1,” code for being the number one man AKA president in Indonesia. Screenshot from Instagram/@kaesangp
President Joko Widodo’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, took netizens by surprise with his recent Instagram post, where he seems to imply that he’s ready to be “RI1,” code for being the number one man AKA president in Indonesia. Screenshot from Instagram/@kaesangp

Indonesia is seeing a disturbing trend of authorities cracking down on political satire, and the fact that a member of the First Family is doing just that ⁠— to promote his business, no less ⁠— would hopefully help push back authorities’ overzealous and repressive approach in shutting down criticism.

President Joko Widodo’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, has regularly made headlines, be it through stories about his slew of F&B businesses, social media antics, or private life. This time, Kaesang took netizens by surprise with his recent Instagram post, where he seems to imply that he’s ready to be “RI1,” code for being the number one man AKA president in Indonesia. 

The 26-year-old entrepreneur uploaded several photos of his ad photoshopped into numerous locations, from Spongebob Squarepants’ home of Bikini Bottom to FC Barcelona’s home stadium Camp Nou.

 

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A post shared by Kae Sang Pangarep (@kaesangp)

The ad, which depicts Kaesang having a pair of wings while holding a toast sandwich and a text that reads, “I’m ready to be RI1” against a red background. It appears to be a parody of PDI-P politician and House Speaker Puan Maharani’s infamous and ubiquitous “Kepak Sayap Kebhinnekaan” (spreading the wings of diversity) billboard, the massive spread of which has been widely seen as a signal for her intention to run for president in 2024. The billboard has also since become Indonesian netizens’ latest favorite meme subject.

Though there was no political intention in Kaesang’s ad, as it turns out that the Instagram posts were part of a promotion for his new toast sandwich business called Let’s Toast. The RI1 in question actually stands for Let’s Toast’s parent company, PT Roti Indonesia Satu.

In one of his posts, Kaesang wrote that he aims for Let’s Toast to be the direct competitor of Jiwa Toast, a subsidiary of es kopi chain Janji Jiwa.

While many netizens saw humor in Kaesang’s marketing strategy, some people out there seemed to have genuinely thought that Kaesang was considering becoming the head of state, as seen in replies on a tweet by Detik below — perhaps due to the outlet’s clickbait headline.

Some others called out Kaesang for what they see as an insensitive marketing strategy, as he would likely not suffer legal repercussions from poking fun at politics. Unlike, say, how police are pursuing the artist behind a work of street art that authorities perceive to be disrespectful towards Kaesang’s father.

Kaesang has established himself as one of the most well-known F&B entrepreneurs in the country through his ventures, products of which include banana nugget, coffee, and fried chicken chains, among others. But seeing how his eldest brother, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, was elected as the mayor of Solo after previously showing little interest in politics, we won’t be surprised if Kaesang would choose a similar path in the near future.

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