Prabowo Subianto performs a prostration in gratitude after declaring victory in the presidential election last week. (Antara Photo/Galih Pradipta)

Indonesia Reacts With Humor to Prabowo's Election Antics


APRIL 22, 2019

Jakarta. Amid the absurdity surrounding the fallout from the 2019 presidential election, some Indonesians have been reacting with what they know best: humor. 

Videos are circulating on social media, showing several people lining up and saluting a man or woman in clear parodies of a similar scene involving presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his supporters.

Prabowo is trailing the incumbent, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in both quick-count results by pollsters and the ongoing official count by the General Elections Commission (KPU). But this has not prevented the former Army general from declaring victory several times since the April 17 election and rallying his supporters to disregard any results showing otherwise. 

Last week, a video showing Prabowo's followers lining up and each saluting him in turn while uttering the phrase, "siap presiden!" ("aye, president!") started doing the rounds on social media. 

Humorous imitations quickly followed and Twitter soon flooded with videos under the hashtag #SiapPresidenChallenge. Some of the videos showing the military salute becoming a popular gesture to greet newlyweds.

And taxi drivers.

Widespread Support for KPU

After multiple efforts to undermine the KPU's credibility, members of the public started sending hundreds of flower boards with messages of support to the agency's offices in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Sunday. 

One flower board came with a twist and read: "We support the KPU. From: Us who do not need medication, because we are sane."

Flower boards seen outside the offices of the KPU in Central Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)
Flower boards seen outside the offices of the KPU in Central Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

One of them was from Grace Natalie, chairwoman of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), to show moral support for the election organizing body.

"We trust the KPU. We trust the quick counts. We believe in common sense," said the message on the flower board she sent.

The PSI already conceded defeat after quick counts showed that the party had failed to pass the required threshold for seats in the House of Representatives.

The party, one of Indonesia's youngest, believes the quick-count results are scientifically based – and can thus be proven – and that it would likely be very similar to the official result the KPU is expected to announce next month.

The Jakarta branch of the PSI also sent a similar flower board.

"Thank you KPU. Thank you to the election heroes. We trust you," it read.

Flower boards also came from residents of Menteng, alumni of several high schools and universities, supporters of Jokowi and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin, office workers and many more.

One flower board from office workers read: "Keep up the spirit. We are still waiting for the KPU's official count."

Another read: "Congratulations and all the best to the KPU, which has organized the presidential and legislative elections really well. Keep up the spirit."