Rumor has it that President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo was wearing an earpiece to communicate with his helpers during the live election debate on Sunday. The Jokowi camp denies it vigorously, saying it's slander. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Rumors of Jokowi's Hidden Earpiece Quashed by Election Commission

BY : IMAM SUHARTADI

FEBRUARY 19, 2019

Jakarta. In two lukewarm rounds of the presidential debate, both the incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto seemed happy enough to stick to a humdrum script. Not so their supporters, who have been happy enough to throw wild accusations to each other as soon as the debate ends. 

One hot rumor that has been doing the rounds on social media since Sunday is that Jokowi was wearing a hidden earpiece to communicate with his helpers during the live debate.

Jokowi's campaign team and his running mate, the Islamic cleric Ma'ruf Amin, have reacted to the news furiously, countering that the rumor was deliberately spread by the Prabowo camp to turn attention away from the ex-general's "unicorn" gaff during the debate that turned him into the butt of many jokes and memes.

"The rumor that Jokowi was wearing an earpiece [during the debate] was a deliberate ploy by the BPN [Prabowo's campaign team] to make people forget that Prabowo lost the debate on Sunday," Charles Honoris from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP)—one of a coalition of parties that support Jokowi—said.  

Charles compared the Prabowo camp's reaction to a losing boxer lamely accusing the victor of secretly wearing iron gloves.

Wahyu Setiawan, a commissioner at the KPU—Indonesia's general election commission—said the commission can guarantee that neither of the presidential nominees was wearing an earpiece during the debate, since it is forbidden by election rules. 

"Neither of them was wearing a hearing device. That much is clear," Setiawan said.

On a visit to Pandeglang in Banten, Jokowi took the time to respond to the rumor. "It's slander. Don't feed the rumor mill," he told reporters.

Jokowi also showed reporters the pen that the Prabowo camp said was actually a device to turn his earpiece on and off. "This is just normal pen. Take a look, see it for yourself," the president said. 

Polls: Jokowi Won Fair and Square

Various polls conducted by local media showed Jokowi was ahead of Prabowo in the debate on Sunday evening at Sultan Hotel in Central Jakarta. 

Most of the polls asked simple questions like "Who do you think will win [April's presidential election] after the second debate?"

An online poll by local newspaper Republika, for example, had Jokowi winning on that question by 52 percent to Prabowo's 48 percent.  

The popular television show Indonesia Lawyers Club (ILC) on TVOne also showed Jokowi leading by 59 percent to Prabowo's 41 percent. 

A poll by Beritasatu.com showed Jokowi winning by 52 percent to Prabowo's 45 percent. The rest didn't pick a winner.

Many observers say Jokowi won the debate on Sunday by showing a clear grasp of the issues being asked—energy, food security, infrastructure, the environment and natural resorces—even if he went overboard on some of his claims about his administration's environmental protection record

"We should note that most polls conducted by the mainstream media showed Jokowi winning the debate by a considerable margin," Arya Sinulingga, Jokowi's campaign team's spokesperson, said.

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