Governor Fauzi’s finger sparks online controversy
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo sparked a controversy after a picture of him “giving the finger” circulated through social media on Monday.
A picture of the governor, popularly known as Foke, and band members with upraised middle fingers spread among Twitter users on Monday, sparking comments and criticism from social media users.
In the picture, reportedly cropped from a video, the governor and a group of teenagers were seen smiling at the camera, flashing the offensive gesture. The gaffe was made while Fauzi was on stage to give prizes to competition winners at an anniversary event for the daily Pos Kota on Sunday afternoon.
Asked about the incident on Monday, the governor claimed that he had no idea what the gesture meant.
“I had no idea what the gesture means, even until now. I just followed the band members gesturing the middle finger. Apparently all band members do that, don’t they?” said Fauzi, who holds a doctorate degree from Technische Universität Kaiserslautern in Germany.
Jakarta administration spokesman Cucu Ahmad Kurnia said the picture was taken out of context and that the governor had no particular motive behind the gesture.
“It was in jest. He was joking while talking with motorcycle club members and there was also a teenage band competition. Many people laughed at him,” Cucu said.
The controversy occurred amid Fauzi’s re-election bid. Fauzi is eying another five-year term in the July 11 gubernatorial election.
Fauzi and running mate Nachrowi Ramli have been expressing optimism about their run after winning the support of the Democratic Party.
Separately on Monday, another Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited rock legends Slank at their headquarters in Duren Tiga, South Jakarta. Jokowi said his visit was a lunch invitation from Slank. “I have known them for a long time,” he said.
In an apparent nonverbal response to Fauzi’s gaffe, however, Jokowi flashed hand signals to reporters on the sidelines of the meal.
He made a victory sign, a hand gesture in which the index and middle fingers are raised and parted, while the other fingers are clenched, and the metal music sign of horns, which is formed by extending the index and little fingers while holding the middle and ring fingers down with the thumb.
Jakarta election hopefuls are trying to win over the youth vote as young people form the majority of the city’s listed voters.
More than half of the 7.5 million registered voters are aged between 17 and 35 years of age, and many are first-time voters.
According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 54.98 percent of the 7.5 million registered voters — equal to 3.8 million people — are between 17 and 35 years old and at least 914,000 voters are still in high school or college.