In KPK saga, the growing power of social media
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When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the nation over the standoff between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police, he credited social media a means to gauge public opinion.
“I followed developments on social media as well as the text messages that I received and all accused me of being idle and doing nothing about the problem,” Yudhoyono said in his speech on Wednesday evening.
The credit is due. Social media, especially the popular microblogging site Twitter, has been the loudest in voicing demands for Yudho-yono to interfere in the standoff.
Through hashtags like #SaveKPK, #DimanaSBY #KemanaPresidenKita (KPK), Twitter users can send messages ranging from rally calls to form a human chain at the KPK headquarters to making derisive comments about Yudhoyono.
“Yudhoyono’s statement showed that the government has listened to the [online] aspirations of the people,” Yose Rizal, the director of social media monitoring organization PoliticaWave, said in a statement.
PoliticaWave, which monitored the traffic on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, Internet forums and online news portals during the KPK-police standoff, found that the hashtag #SaveKPK potentially reached more than 9.4 million Internet users.
It also found that Twitter played a dominant role in setting the terms and tones for the online discussion regarding the KPK-National Police rift.
One of the Twitter users who tirelessly campaigned on behalf of the KPK was Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) public campaign coordinator Illian Deta Arta Sari.
During the standoff, Illian sent tweets informing her followers about protests that took place around the country in a bid to build solidarity among the KPK’s supporters.
She was aware that Yudhoyono was an image-conscious politician who would respond if public pressure reached a critical mass. “Actually, our President is unique. On some issues, such as the distribution of the sex video featuring a pop star, he was quick to make a statement. But in other cases, such as issues that are actually more substantive to the people, it took powerful pressure from the public before he responded,” Illian told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Following the success of the social media campaign, Illian said that the movement would continue.
“Our work is not yet done and it is not yet the time to throw a party. We still have to monitor the implementation of the President’s speech,” she said.
Another powerful voice on the Internet is Usman Hamid of the online campaign website change.org.
“The role of change.org is more about facilitation. We don’t start a petition with a certain agenda, but we are open to any party, whoever and wherever they are, who have wishes for change for the better,” Usman told the Post.
The latest petition on change.org was a demand addressed to the President to allow the KPK to investigate the allegations of graft surrounding the procurement of driving simulators at the National Traffic Police Corps (Korlantas), filed by the daughter of former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, Anita Wahid, in early August.
In addition to change.org, Usman has used his Twitter account to fight for the KPK’s cause.
Last weekend, Usman sent messages on Twitter calling for protesters to join a Sunday rally urging Yudhoyono to make a statement, to which the President reluctantly responded by directing his aides to issue a statement.
It was at least the second “successful” petition by change.org since it opened its Indonesian chapter in June. Earlier, one of its petitions managed to pressure state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II to formally issue a regulation to prevent the illegal trade of shark fins.