We begin a series of occassional posts about the goings on in the Indonesian social media scene by Ndoro Kakung, who’s joined Maverick as an advisor. Today’s post is about the controversial billboard put up by the Anies-Sandiaga camp that caused a kerfuffle on Twitter over the weekend.
The gubernatorial election for Jakarta began last Friday (28/10/2016) and the candidates and their supporters have not wasted any time in getting their message across in the form of leaflets, posters, billboards, banners, photos, videos, and so on.
In this flurry of activity one of the candidate-pairs, Anies Baswedan and his deputy Sandiaga Uno, reaped perhaps more than their fair share of controversy when they put up billboards featuring a photo of both of them with a prominent slogan beneath that proclaimed “Jakarta Milik Kita, Mari Bung Kita Rebut Kembali!” (“Jakarta is Ours, Let’s Seize it Back!”)
The slogan, with its use of the aggressive verb “seize” immediately sparked questions from the Twitterverse as it reminds Indonesians of a couple of lines in the nationalistic song Halo Halo Bandung in which it calls on Indonesians to seize back Bandung (occupied by the Dutch) that is on fire.
Twitter user @jelantik5 questioned the billboard’s messaging: “Excuse me Pak @aniesbaswedan & Pak Sandiaga Uno, could you tell us who’s colonized Jakarta until it has to be seized back?”
— Agung (@Jelantik5) October 29, 2016
Despite having their Twitter handles mentioned in the tweet, both Anies and Sandiaga did not respond to the question.
Their silence did not stop other Twitter users such as @AndiMartin_
— a.m (@AndiMartin_) October 29, 2016
“Jakarta milik kita” maksudnya milik kalian berdua? “Mari rebut kembali” Lah, rebut apanya.. pic.twitter.com/MfQGHRVn3V
— Gubernur KW (@GubernurKW) October 29, 2016
— Pinneng (@pinneng) October 29, 2016
from asking the same question. Still Anies and Sandiaga, as well as their campaign teams and supports, kept mum over the issue.
On Sunday, when many Indonesians have more spare time to check their social media accounts, the issue surfaced again after @AroonP asked @Pandji, (921,000 followers), a standup comedian as well as an official spokesperson for the Anies-Sandiaga ticket: “Masbro @pandji, any comment? Seize Jakarta from whom? ”
— PnoorA (@AroonP) October 30, 2016
@AroonP Sejauh ini belum ada, Anies-Sandi memang tidak mau jadikan isu sara sbg bagian kampanye & ingin kembalikan ke dlm program & gagasan
— Pandji Pragiwaksono (@pandji) October 30, 2016
This time the questioners got some traction. Pandji replied on Twitter, “We” refers to us, the citizens, to seize the city from the developers and corporations who use Jakarta for their own advantage. Case in point: Reclamation.”
The conversation between @AroonP and Pandji also involved @ernestprakasa into the mix. The account that is believed to be owned by actor and stand up comedian, Ernest Prakasa currently has 389,000 followers. Ernest is also known as one the stand-up comedians like Pandji. They even had a role together in the movie Comic 8.
Pandji’s mention of the word “corporation” and “reclamation” hit a nerve with some of the Twitterati and raised more questions. Which is the corporation he meant? And what has the reclamation project got to do with anything?
Other Twitter users professed surprise by Pandji’s sudden anti-corporate stand because, they pointed out, Pandji has been the recipient of various sponsorships and engagements by corporations.
Anda punya pendapat apa tentang reklamasi, Pandji? Apakah sudah pelajari semua data dan dokumen yang ada? Apakah Bluebird bukan korporasi? https://t.co/sLZ6b54WLh
— Poltak Hotradero (@hotradero) October 30, 2016
@hotradero (an account apprently owned by Poltak Hotradero), an employee of the Indonesia Stock Exchange who has more than 88,000 followers, asked “Do you have any opinion about the reclamation, Pandji? Have you already studied all data and documents? Isn’t Bluebird also considered as a corporation? The last remark was an apparent reference to some influencer work done for Blue Bird by Pandji.
Soon, the issue had escalated into a storm in the social media teacup, with other accounts such as @agussari and @imanbr joining into the fray.
Lucu emang kalo dengar retorika anti korporasi dari orang yg hidup dan mata prncahariannya dari sponsor dan endorsement korporasi.
— Agus Sari (@agussari) October 30, 2016
Sebagai Anieser jawaban Panji kurang taktis. Sebaiknya dikurangi kegiatan world tour stand up comedy agar fokus. Pertempuran sudah dimulai https://t.co/IRTXL8JAzx
— Iman Brotoseno (@imanbr) October 30, 2016
Like so many other Twitwars that have flared in Indonesia, however, the billboard issue subsided after Pandji asked for time to discuss the matter first with Anies-Sandiaga.
@hotradero Nanti, utk jelasnya mohon waktu utk gue diskusikan dgn Mas Anies-Sandi supaya punya jawaban yg lebih komprehensif bang.
— Pandji Pragiwaksono (@pandji) October 30, 2016
There is a truce for now but the lesson that the politicians may pick up is that they need to manage issues that may crop up from anything they do or say, be it in billboards or rallies.
When such things become issues it is up to the team as a whole – the candidates, their social media administrators, as well as their spokespersons and surrogates to be responsive with a unified message or stand. In communications this is called getting your messaging right, aligning your messages and then maintaining message discipline among everyone that has exposure to the public at large. This is something that the politicians have yet to learn to do.