Incumbent President Joko Widodo has claimed that rampant fake news and slander has negatively affected his electability and that of his running mate, Mr Ma’ruf Amin, in West Java, Indonesia’s most populous province.
“We were ahead by 4 per cent a month and a half ago in West Java, unlike in the (2014 presidential election), when we completely lost. But since then, our electability has dropped 8 per cent,” he said on Saturday (March 2) during a meeting with his regional campaign team in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, as reported by kompas.com
The team in West Java, he went on, investigated the cause of the decrease and reportedly discovered efforts to discredit Mr Joko and Mr Ma’ruf through hoaxes and fake news.
Mr Joko is no stranger to smear campaigns and fake news. A video that recently went viral on social media showed three women claiming that should Mr Joko be reelected as president, he would ban adzan (call to prayer) and legalise same-sex marriages.
West Java police have identified and arrested the women, naming them suspects for inciting hate speech under Information and Electronic Transactions Law.
“Where is the logic in the government banning adzan? Our vice-presidential candidate is chairman of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI),” he said, referring to running mate Mr Ma’ruf.
Home to more than 47 million people, West Java is Indonesia’s most populous province. It is also widely regarded as one of the country’s most religiously conservative regions, with Muslims making up 97 per cent of the population.