The weirdest and funniest moments from the 1st Indonesian presidential debate (in memes)

Photos: Instagram / @jokowi.amin and @prabowo
Photos: Instagram / @jokowi.amin and @prabowo

The much-awaited first presidential debate finally took place on Thursday evening, pitting incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin against Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno.

The topics covered in last night’s debate were human rights, law, corruption, and terrorism. As we predicted, it was a largely bland affair, as if the candidates and moderators were playing it safe. Many netizens — or warganet, as the moderators so cringely put it last night — said they were more looking forward to seeing memes about the debate rather than the debate itself.

In that spirit, here’s a collection of our favorite memes based on the most talked about moments from the debate.

Central Java bigger than Malaysia?

Prabowo mentioned that some Indonesian governors ought to be paid more considering the size of their provinces, using the example of Central Java, which he asserted to be larger than Malaysia.

That claim is clearly false. Official data shows that Central Java measures 32,544.12 square kilometer while Malaysia measures 330,323 square kilometer.

Cue a K-pop inspired reaction meme featuring a picture of Got7’s Jackson Wang.

Prabowo: How could the salary of the Governor of Central Java, which is larger than Malaysia, be only Rp8 million (around $564)?

Prabowo’s dance and back rub from Sandi


When Ira Koesno, one of the debate moderators, initially didn’t allow Prabowo to respond to Jokowi’s question about the six convicted corruptors who are running as legislative candidates for his party, Gerindra, the former general busted out a few dance moves in frustration. As if the moment wasn’t absurd enough, Sandi then gave his running mate a back rub.

Here is all of that in GIF form, in case you need it for future meme-ification

“The corruption wasn’t that big”

When Prabowo was eventually allowed to answer the question above, he committed what was probably the biggest gaffe of the night when he replied, “Maybe the corruption wasn’t that big?” in trying to justify Gerindra’s corruption convict cadres.

Of course, Prabowo’s statement incited jeers from netizens, many in meme form:


There’s also this hilarious meme combining Prabowo dancing with his corruption faux pas.

The Silence of Ma’ruf

Jokowi’s running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, was a man of few words during last night’s debate. He later explained that, as an incumbent, Jokowi should be the more dominant of the two during the debate.

“If the president was explaining something, I only needed to agree and support it, so we wouldn’t race each other’s sentences like saur manuk (birds chirping at each other),” Ma’ruf said today, as quoted by CNN Indonesia


But his silence sparked probably the best memes of the night.

Jokowi: Maybe Pak Kyai would like to add something. Meanwhile, Pak Kyai…

Photo: Reddit/KerupukPutih
Photo: Hat tip u/KerupukPutih

Jokowi: The one who understands the material, did the powerpoint, answered the questions during the presentation.

Ma’ruf: The one who put his name on the project.

Jokowi’s epic burn about Ratna Sarumpaet’s plastic surgery


It didn’t take long for Jokowi to bring up Ratna Sarumpaet, Prabowo’s former campaigner who duped him and many across the nation by claiming to have been assaulted by strangers, only for police to quickly reveal that her “injuries” were actually the side effects of a recent plastic surgery procedure she underwent.

“Your spokesperson said she was beaten up, her face was battered and then your team held a press conference. And then what happened? Turned out she had plastic surgery,” Jokowi said to Prabowo

A user on Twitter described the moment by using this GIF of Chiitan, a famous otter mascot from Japan known for her crazy stunts.

When Pak Jokowi took a jab with “[Ratna Sarumpaet’s] plastic surgery”

Because there were so many ridiculous quotes and moments during the debate, another Twitter user imagined if former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama appeared from behind the stage to dance and laugh at all of the candidates.

Whatever your opinion about last night’s debate, you may want to follow Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo’s advice in deciding your pick for the election.


Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on