The Jakarta Post
The regent of Klaten in Central Java, Sri Mulyani, has been thrust into the spotlight as photos of her ubiquitous use of personal branding – ranging from plastic bags to textbook covers – have gone viral on social media.
Besides becoming the butt of many jokes, Sri is also under scrutiny for potentially abusing her power as an incumbent ahead of the 2020 regional elections.
She first found herself in the limelight when Twitter users pointed out that bottles of hand sanitizer recently distributed by the Social Affairs Ministry featured a portrait of the regent.
Anticorruption activist and former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioner Laode Muhammad Syarif tweeted a photo of the controversial product label on Monday.
In a separate image, Laode showed what appeared to be the product’s original sticker, which featured a Social Affairs Ministry hashtag.
Jika gambar ini betul:— Laode M Syarif (@LaodeMSyarif) April 26, 2020
Ini CONTOH yg mengambil KESEMPATAN KAMPANYE di tengah WABAH COVID-19.
Contoh CONFLICT OF INTEREST akut & bupati TANPA RASA MALU.
BANTUAN @KemensosRI DITEMPELI PHOTO DIRI SENDIRI.@DivHumas_Polri @OmbudsmanRI137 @KPK_RI @Kemendagri_RI @ganjarpranowo pic.twitter.com/yh9goTWah9
“If these pictures are real, they are examples of [political opportunism] amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They serve as an example of conflict of interest,” he wrote in the caption. “A shameless regent. Aid provided by the Social Affairs Ministry is plastered with her own photo.”
The tweet has since gone viral, garnering more than 1,800 retweets and 2,700 likes as of Wednesday afternoon and giving rise to the hashtag #BupatiKlatenMemalukan (#ShamelessKlatenRegent).
The Social Affairs Ministry has yet to release a statement regarding the issue.
Other Twitter users responded to the furor by posting tongue-in-cheek memes that poke fun at the Klaten regent’s apparent omnipresence in the public sphere, with some even inserting Sri’s photo into a variety of popular everyday products and pop culture references.
“The daily life of Klaten residents,” @bosenberdamai tweeted, alongside edited images of famous brands that now include a portrait of Sri.
Another Twitter user, @radtherandom, inserted Sri’s photo into a shot from science fiction blockbuster Blade Runner 2049.
“When Klaten residents watch Blade Runner,” the user wrote in the caption.
orang klaten kalo nonton blade runner pic.twitter.com/m3N0Suodvt— Nazgûl-chan (@radtherandom) April 28, 2020
Another user made a video showing the regent popping up everywhere during his daily routine.
"Klaten residents right now," @fibyow tweeted.
warga klaten saat ini:pic.twitter.com/POz5eVkfT2— andika fibio (@fibyow) April 28, 2020
Responding to the controversy, Sri claimed that the blunder had resulted from “a technical mix-up” that occurred during the distribution of the hand sanitizer.
“There has been a technical mix-up in the field that was never supposed to happen. I have cleared up [the confusion],” Sri told the press on Monday as quoted by tribunnews.com.
She went on to say that a mistake had been made during the distribution of aid from the local administration which happened to coincide with the distribution of 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer from the Social Affairs Ministry.
“Administration officials unknowingly pasted [the regent’s label] on hand sanitizer provided by the Social Affairs Ministry,” Sri said, adding that the local administration had distributed a larger number of hand sanitizer than the ministry.
Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) head Abhan, meanwhile, said the sticker did not constitute an election violation.
“It is not yet campaign season,” Abhan told tempo.co on Wednesday, adding that the agency had been watching for any pre-campaign violations perpetrated by incumbents.
He said the agency did not prohibit any individual from providing humanitarian aid as long as it was not inherently political in nature. (rfa)