February 9, 2024
JAKARTA – The government has decided to halt rice aid distribution to all parts of the country starting on Thursday after rampant allegations that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration has been directing various forms of social aid (Bansos) to persuade people to vote for presidential frontrunner Prabowo Subianto.
National Food Agency (Bapanas) head Arief Prasetyo Adi said the pause in the distribution process would take place from Feb. 8 to 14 to refute allegations that the government is politicizing food aid during the campaign season.
“The government’s food aid will be temporarily halted [to prove] that there is no politicization of food aid distribution. The pause is to respect the general election process and to update data,” he said on Wednesday as quoted by Antara News.
In a formal letter to state-owned logistics company Perum Bulog, Bapanas instructed the company to stop the distribution of rice stocks and government aid because of the national holiday of Prophet Muhammad’s Ascension Day on Feb. 8, which will be followed by the election’s quiet period from Feb. 11 to 13 and polling day on Feb. 14. The distribution will resume on Feb. 15.
President Jokowi and his family have been heavily criticized since the Constitutional Court amended the minimum-age requirement for presidential candidates, which enabled his eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to run as Prabowo’s running mate.
The criticism grew louder as Jokowi made public photos of lunching and dining with Defense Minister Prabowo. Despite being an outgoing president, Jokowi has spent his time on an extensive tour across Java, especially Central Java, to distribute Bansos, in the form of rice, cooking oil and other staple foods, in the past two months, which coincided with the election campaign season.