JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has denied accusations widely discussed on social media that a minister resorted to violence during a political dispute at a Cabinet meeting.
Rumors had circulated on social media in recent days that Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto resorted to strangling and slapping Deputy Agriculture Minister Harvick Hasnul Qolbi before the limited Cabinet meeting began at the Presidential Palace.
Answering questions from journalists on Tuesday during a trip to a traditional market in Jatinegara, east Jakarta, Jokowi said with a laugh that “as far as I know, there has been no incident like that. “How come there (was) strangulation?”
The president went on to say that the public should always verify information on social media before drawing their own conclusions, particularly ahead of the 2024 general election.
“In political years, there is indeed a lot of information of this type,” he said. “So please verify (the information). “Don’t take all the news at face value.”
Rumors began circulating on social media after a video clip titled “Did a presidential candidate slap a vice minister in the meeting room?” It was published in early September by the Seword opinion blog on its YouTube channel and went viral.
In the nearly 12-minute video, Seword director Alifurrahman Asyari claimed, without naming names, that he had heard of a minister strangling and slapping a deputy minister before a cabinet meeting.
Alifurrahman said he received the information 10 days ago from a source who attended the meeting and witnessed the alleged incident.
Alifurrahman referred to the minister as a possible candidate in the next presidential race.
The minister was allegedly furious with a colleague, who heads another ministry, because the latter did not show up for the Cabinet meeting and “did not help collaborate on an inter-ministerial project ordered by the President”, Alifurrahman said in the video.
The minister is supposed to have vented his anger on the deputy minister who came on behalf of his boss.
Then another rumor began to circulate that the minister in question was Prabowo, who announced his third presidential candidacy for the 2024 elections, and the deputy minister was Harvick.
When asked by reporters about the allegations, Prabowo refuted them, saying he had never met Harvick in person.
“I haven’t even met with the vice minister. I have never met him, he has always been the minister I meet,” Prabowo said on the sidelines of a visit to state arms manufacturer PT Pindad in Bandung, West Java, with Jokowi on Tuesday.
Gerindra Party central board executive Sufmi Dasco Ahmad said it was not the first time its chairman Prabowo had been affected by unfounded rumours.
He asked the public, as well as party members, “not to be provoked” by misleading information.
The Ministry of Agriculture stated in a press release that the rumors were “false.”
He highlighted that Harvick had not been recorded in the ministry’s official diary attending a limited Cabinet meeting at the palace on behalf of the Agriculture Minister in the past 10 days. JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK