Netizens praise Jakarta governor by trending #AniesBaswedanForPresident, ends up being filled with criticism

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan speaks during an interview at his home in Jakarta, Indonesia February 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Fatima El-Kareem
Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan speaks during an interview at his home in Jakarta, Indonesia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Fatima El-Kareem

Although the result of this year’s presidential election was only recently settled, one survey group has already come out with a list of potential presidential frontrunners for 2024. One of the favorites in that survey is Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who today appeared to be on the receiving end of the adulation of netizens after the hashtag #AniesBaswedanForPresident became one of the most popular trending topics on Twitter in Indonesia.

That is, until we actually saw the tweets inside the hashtag.

Initially, the hashtag contained praise for Anies for his role in bringing Jakarta close to hosting a Formula E race next year after the governor flew to New York over the weekend for negotiations.

But race heads are not exactly representative of Indonesians as a whole, and the hashtag soon devolved into a platform for criticism against Anies, much of which was distinctly unflattering.

Even with the hashtag #AniesBaswedanForPresident I already feel like it’s the apocalypse in Indonesia, let alone him actually becoming president. Hopefully Indonesia will be protected from the ambitions of people like him.

Many also speculated that the hashtag could represent a shift in support by hardline Islamists from losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who was denounced by his ultra-conservative voter base for making peace with President Joko Widodo over the weekend.

After they failed to ride Prabowo, they want to ride Anies. The people who want to ride Anies are those who oppose Prabowo’s reconciliation efforts [with Jokowi], such as FPI, the pro-caliphate HTI and those hardliners who want to sell their religion.

Anies, formerly a close advisor to Jokowi and the first Education Minister in the president’s cabinet, has become a polarizing figure in Indonesian politics after he was relieved of his ministerial post and affiliated himself with the Prabowo-led opposition. He was heavily criticized for pandering to Islamist leaders and voters when he went up against his former Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for the top job in Jakarta, which he won in large part due to the highly controversial blasphemy allegations against Ahok.

While in office, Anies also received criticism for not fulfilling his campaign promises, most recently issuing building permits on reclaimed land on Jakarta Bay despite promising to stop the project. 

On the other side of the coin, Anies’ supporters say that he has achieved much as governor, such as his city administration receiving multiple awards, including for its anti-graft commitment by the Corruption Eradication Commision (KPK), but argues the positive aspects of Anies’ tenure have gone underreported by the media.

Do you think, five years from now, Anies could have a shot at Indonesia’s presidency?

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