Netizens accuse President Jokowi of campaign head start with government-sanctioned ad in cinemas

Screenshot from a government-sanctioned ad playing up President Joko Widodo’s success in building important dams in Indonesia. Photo: Youtube/Presiden Joko Widodo

The 2019 presidential election campaign period hasn’t officially started, but incumbent President Joko Widodo has already been criticized online over a perceived attempt to get a sneaky head start over his challenger, Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto.

Recently, some netizens complained on social media about a government-sanctioned ad playing before a movie at Cinema XXI. One particular tweet posted on Sept. 9 by user @nynazka has gone viral with over 1,200 retweets at the time of writing, and she is not at all happy about having to sit through the ad.

Photo: Chirpstory
Photo: Chirpstory

“Just got off from watching a movie at Cinema XXI. Please return the three minutes I lost while I was having fun watching a thriller and suddenly there’s an ad by Jokowi. It just ruined the mood. People go to the cinema to have fun watching movies!” she wrote.

Other netizens chimed in, many of them sporting the controversial the hashtag of the #2019GantiPresiden (Replace the President in 2019) opposition movement, which has also been accused by Jokowi supporters of illegal early campaigning on behalf of Prabowo.

It might be wise for ads that dumb down the public like this one by Jokowi are banned from cinemas. The people are smart, there’s no point in trying to dumb them down. #2019GantiPresiden

Other netizens defended Jokowi and said that the ad, technically, is not for the president’s campaign.

It’s difficult for the government to convey its achievements and not be accused of campaigning. I saw this a few times in the cinema, it’s good and I even got goosebumps. What person hates the achievements of their own country?

It’s a public service announcement that shows Indonesia’s progress up to now. There’s no mention of having to pick Jokowi. In the Soeharto era there were many ads like this but nobody said anything for fear of being kidnapped.

The ad in question was actually posted in July on President Jokowi’s official Youtube account. It highlights the central government’s feat of building 65 dams across Indonesia, which the government claims has improved irrigation systems for farmers.

The controversy surrounding the ad has spilled over to the political sphere, with outspoken Jokowi critic Gerindra Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon today tweeting out a call for Cinema XXI to remove the ad.

The Communications and Information MInistry (Kemkominfo) addressed the controversy today, saying that ads highlighting government achievements are normal and that the ministry, in its capacity as the government’s “public relations” agency, has been playing and will continue to play such ads in cinemas regardless of who is actually president.

The presidential campaign period officially begins on Sept. 23 and will go until April 13, four days before Indonesians go to the polls.

Where do you stand on this issue? Let us know in the comments section below.

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