The existence of the long banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) still remains a highly controversial political topic more than 50 years after the country’s bloody anti-communist purge. Just last week, chaos broke out at a discussion on the PKI in Jakarta after the organizers said they were going to read a declaration that there was no evidence the PKI still exist and that communist hoaxes were being used for political purposes.
Many of the hoaxes about the PKI that have been spread on Indonesian social media have accused President Joko Widodo of secretly being a member of the banned party (despite the fact, that he has often brought up in his own exasperated defense, that he was just a toddler when the party was eradicated).
But some would say Jokowi has himself partially to blame, as he had previously talked about the PKI as if it was in someway still an actual threat to Indonesia (and ordered the police to act as such).
For example in July 2017, he told reporters he was ready to fight the communists, if somebody would just show them to him.
“The question is, where are they (the PKI)? Where?” the president asked at the time. “If you show them me to me, I will gebuk (clobber) them immediately because the law is clear.”
But following the arrest of several people alleged to be members of a group known as the Muslim Cyber Army and accused of spreading fake news about the resurgence of the PKI and their killing of Islamic scholars, Jokowi seems to have given up on the pretense of clobbering communist, saying that he will now clobber those spreading the hoaxes about him being PKI.
“This why, sometimes I get annoyed because I look for the people (spreading the lies about me being PKI) and I cannot find them. Be careful, if I find them I will clobber them,” Jokowi said while handling out land certificates in Serang, Banten, yesterday as quoted by Kompas.
Jokowi then asked that people not be taken in by such slander and hoaxes so that the unity of Indonesia can be maintained.
There is no credible evidence that the PKI exists in any shape or form in modern Indonesia. But decades of anti-communist propaganda under Suharto’s New Order regime has allowed conspiracy theories about secret PKI plots to flourish even today.