#StandForSusi: Netizens defend Indonesian fisheries minister after fishermen protest sustainable fishing regulation

Indonesia’s Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti enjoying a cup of coffee and a cigarette on top of a paddleboard. Photo: Twitter/@susipudjiastuti
Indonesia’s Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti enjoying a cup of coffee and a cigarette on top of a paddleboard. Photo: Twitter/@susipudjiastuti

Yesterday, the hashtag #GantiMenteriSusi (replace Minister Susi) became the top trending topic on Twitter in Indonesia, which is surprising considering it refers to Marine and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, one of President Joko Widodo’s best performing ministers and, as many would agree, undoubtedly his coolest.

The hashtag coincided with a demonstration by fishermen outside the Presidential Palace yesterday to protest the Fisheries Ministry’s ban on the use of environmentally damaging trawls and seine nets in Indonesian waters (a ban that has existed since 2015 and for which Susi claimed she rejected a huge bribe of Rp 1 trillion from fishing companies to overturn).

But the hashtag didn’t seem to represent a real, wide-ranging opposition movement against Susi, leading many to believe that the tweets were generated by paid-for bots and tweet farms (which is apparent after a quick scan of the tweets containing the hashtag). One user summed this up quite succinctly with this tweet:

Susi didn’t seem to pay much attention to the hashtag when asked about it yesterday.

“(Replacing me) is the president’s prerogative. Every year it’s like that, (there’s talk) of replacing me,” she said, as quoted by Detik.

A hashtag that perhaps better represents the public’s general opinion of the minister is #StandForSusi, which today displaced #GantiMenteriSusi on the Twitter trending topics list as actual netizens came to Susi’s defense, particularly her ministry’s push for sustainable fishing and ban on trawls and seine nets.

Susi’s tough regulations have indeed paid dividends in Indonesia. Her famous policy of blowing up illegal foreign fishing vessels has proven to be an effective deterrent against those who want to fish illegally in Indonesian waters, as a new report shows that Indonesia now has 12.5 million tons of fish in stock, an increase from an average of 6.5 million tons over the past two decades.

Susi’s achievements as fisheries minister have also earned her praise worldwide, most recently from the man who might arguably be considered the most famous environmental activist in the world at the moment – Leonardo DiCaprio. She was also recently recognized with an award for her fight against unsustainable fishing practices and slave labor.

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: ENVIRONMENT, POLITICS

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