#ThePowerofSetNov: Indonesia’s house speaker dodges corruption charges (again), netizens mock him with memes

The speaker of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, Setya Novanto, won a pretrial motion on Friday at the South Jakarta District Court, effectively clearing his suspect status in a massive graft case currently being prosecuted by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Anti-corruption activists have decried the ruling and some took to the streets for Car Free Day yesterday to criticize both Setya and the judge in the case, but many netizens have chosen to satirize the situation in that most millennial of ways – with an internet meme.

This is hardly the first time Setya has managed to dodge corruption charges. He famously was forced to step down as House speaker in 2015 after he was recorded allegedly misusing President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s names to try and secure shares for himself in contract re-negotiations with PT Freeport Indonesia. Setya not only avoided any criminal charges but he was reinstated as house speaker by Golkar last year.

After avoiding questioning by the KPK (supposedly related to serious health issues, though a photo of him receiving treatment at a hospital has been questioned and turned into a meme as well) and now having his suspect status canceled, it seems like there’s no corruption charge Setya can’t get out of.

It’s the senior politician’s image of political and criminal untouchability that was the target of satire when #ThePowerOfSetNov (SetNov being an abbreviation of his name) trended on Twitter over the weekend. You’ll quickly understand how it goes (as it’s basically a variation on the old Chuck Norris facts meme):

“Setya Novanto eats at a restaurant, when he asks for the bill the server gives him a tip”

“When Setya Novanto uses the toilet, the shit flushes itself”

“If Setya Novanto gets ticketed, it’s the police that go to trial”


“Setya Novanto steals a chicken, the chicken get beaten by a mob of people”


“Setya Novanto meets the Night King, the Night King becomes a Golkar party member”


This tweet helpfully lists some of the many other corruption scandals that Setya has been able to shrug off:


“(The meme) is proof that Setya Novanto is, in the opinion of the people, a master of escaping the law. He has the power, he got out of the Bali Bank case, and he could escape from other cases such as the (Freeport share scandal) and finally he has escaped after being named a suspect by the KPK, something few people have ever been able to do before,” Tama Satria Langkun, the legal coordinator of Indonesian Corruption Watch, told BBC Indonesia.

Legal experts say there are still other ways that the KPK could attempt to prosecute Setya in the e-KTP case, but it would be very difficult after his pre-trial victory.

To add our own riff on #ThePowerOfSetNov meme: The only person who could successfully prosecute Setya Novanto… is Setya Novanto.

Subscribe to the WTF is Up in Southeast Asia + Hong Kong podcast to get our take on the top trending news and pop culture from the region every Thursday!

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