The talk of Jakarta today is a viral video, taken during yesterday’s Car Free Day (CFD) event, that shows several instances of people belonging to the #2019GantiPresiden (Change the President in 2019) movement to defeat President Joko Widodo in next year’s election bullying and intimidating supporters of Jokowi who were wearing #DiaSibukKerja (He is Busy Working) shirts.
The clips of the #2019GantiPresiden crowd harassing Jokowi supporters, particularly a woman seen in the video consoling a child brought to tears by their intimidation, have been deplored by many as an example of how ugly and divisive Indonesian politics have gotten and how much worse they might get ahead of the 2019 election.
Next year's election will likely be far from peaceful.
But one person who isn’t ready to condemn the #2019GantiPresiden crowd for their actions is Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno, who said he had submitted the viral video to the government’s Jakarta Smart City for analysis to verify that it was not a hoax that had been deceptively edited in some way.
“So now there is technology to make video hoaxes. So I again ask that Smart City makes sure first. The video that went viral is not the only one we’ve seen. There are some videos. So again I send to the Smart City team to make sure that they are legitimate,” Sandiaga said as quoted by Detik.
Anybody that has watched the viral video and understands anything about how video editing actually works would realize that what Sandiaga said is, quite frankly, ridiculous. While of course there is video editing technology that can be used to make realistic looking hoaxes, to somehow fake the incidents seen in this particular video would require millions of dollars worth of incredibly sophisticated CGI (rendered in a few short hours).
Let’s be generous and assume Sandiaga wasn’t talking about that kind of editing – the only other way that such clips could be faked would be to hire an army of extremely convincing actors to go out to CFD and work together in perfect coordination among the regular crowd to create the scenes captured in the video. Hopefully we don’t have to explain what a ridiculously unrealistic conspiracy theory would be required to make that happen.
So why would the vice governor make up such a lame excuse to not condemn the #2019GantiPresiden supporters shown in the video? Because they’re on the same side, of course.
Sandiaga, alongside Governor Anies Baswedan, defeated the incumbent (and former right-hand man to Jokowi) Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the highly divisive 2017 gubernatorial race following a campaign season filled with nasty religious and racially-tinged attacks on Ahok and his supporters.
The vice governor also happens to be on the campaign and vice presidential selection committee for Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, the man most likely to challenge Jokowi in the 2019 election. He has talked up his boss, Anies Baswedan, as being an ideal candidate for the VP position (which would just happen to make him Governor of Jakarta, should the theoretical Prabowo-Anies ticket win).
Others aren’t waiting for the events seen in the viral video to be “verified”. One of the men seen being harassed in the video has already officially filed a report with police over the incident and pro-Jokowi groups such as the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) have said they would help other victims report their harassment to authorities.