Hand gesture at IMF gathering deemed as campaign violation
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani
The Jakarta Post
Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra Party has accused two of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s ministers of publicly demonstrating political partisanship while representing Indonesia at the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Group in Bali over the weekend.
Video footage went viral on Wednesday showing Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati allegedly telling World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and IMF director Christine Lagarde to pose while making a “partisan” hand gesture during a photoshoot.
"That was a very unfair and unwise action. They [Luhut and Sri Mulyani] were unprofessional and partisan. They were supposed to be neutral,” Gerindra executive Ahmad Riza Patria told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
In the footage, Luhut first makes a hand gesture spreading five fingers, like a high five or a hand wave, while the foreign guests give a two-fingered V-sign, a sign commonly used to symbolize either peace or victory.
Sri later told Luhut to tell the apparently unaware guests to make a one-finger gesture using the forefinger, which symbolizes the ballot number of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin ticket in next year’s presidential election.
It is common in elections in Indonesia to see candidates and their supporters using hand or finger gestures to symbolize support for their campaigns.
“No, no, no, not two [fingers], not two,” Luhut is heard telling his two foreign guests, who later mimic what Luhut did with his index finger.
Luhut and Sri Mulyani, as well as the guests appear amused at this point in the video, and within seconds the audience witnessing the incident also bursts into laughter.
“Two is for Prabowo; one is for Jokowi,” Sri Mulyani explains to Lagarde, who seems to be clueless about the meaning behind the hand gesture she has just made.
But Gerindra has not taken it lightly, with Riza saying that the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team will file a report against Luhut and Sri Mulyani with the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu).
“This [the report] will be a reminder for other public officials that they have to be independent [during presidential elections],” Riza said.
Bawaslu has yet to receive any report.
Bawaslu commissioner Fritz Edward Siregar said the alleged incident, however, would be examined thoroughly and in context to avoid misinterpretation.
“Well, perhaps it can be [reported] as an alleged violation of articles 282 and 283. Article 282 is about public officials’ actions benefiting certain candidates,” he said, referring to the 2017 Elections Law, which prohibits public officials from using state facilities for campaigning or for encouraging others to support certain candidates. (ipa)
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