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Jakarta Post

Luhut, Sri Mulyani questioned by Bawaslu over Lagarde's hand sign

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 2, 2018   /   07:19 pm
Luhut, Sri Mulyani questioned by Bawaslu over Lagarde's hand sign Happy ending: World Bank president Jim Yong Kim (left to right), International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, 2018 IMF-World Bank meetings chairman and Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo laugh as they link arms during the closing ceremony of the event in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday. (The Jakarta Post/Wendra Ajistyatama)

An elections supervisory agency questioned on Friday two ministers from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo's administration for allegedly campaigning for the incumbent during the recent Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Bali.

A group known as Archipelago Advocates reported Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati to the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) for allegedly campaigning for the incumbent at the international event, which was attended by world leaders and businesspeople.

At a group photo session during the closing ceremony, Luhut and Sri were seen correcting IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, who had raised her index and middle fingers, creating a V-sign, a symbol of peace.

After ministers asked Lagarde to instead raise only her index fingers, other prominent figures that were standing beside them raised their index figures.

The incident was criticized by the campaign team and supporters of Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi’s challenger in the 2019 presidential election, which will take place in April. They said that, by asking Lagarde to raise her index fingers, the government officials had tried to campaign for Jokowi, who has been designated as candidate No. 1, while Prabowo is candidate No. 2.

Read also: Hand gesture at IMF gathering deemed as campaign violation

The two ministers answered Bawaslu summonses on Friday and came for separate questioning at around 3 p.m.

“I explained there was [no intention of campaigning]. We were busy working there. Nobody thought about campaigning,” Luhut told reporters after his questioning as quoted by Antara.

He said what he did during the photo session was just an expression of spontaneity and happiness.

“We said Indonesia is number one, ‘great Indonesia’. We expressed our joy because Lagarde and [World Bank President Jim Yong Kim] said it was unthinkable that Indonesia could hold a world-class event like the IMF-World Bank gathering.”

Luhut denied accusations that his actions violated regulations.

Earlier, Bawaslu commissioner Fritz Edward Siregar said the incident would be examined thoroughly and in context to avoid misinterpretation.

“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 to campaign or to encourage others to support certain candidates. (wit)