Double standards

Yusufdagri – April 5, 2021

Questions are being asked about whether or not the rule of law applies equally to all Indonesian citizens after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was a special guest (kondangan) at a glitzy celebrity wedding at a time when large gatherings are banned under Covid-19 health protocols (protokolkesehatan) and similar events have been routinely broken up by police.

On Saturday, Widodo was among hundreds of high-profile guests – including Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and other senior government officials – at the wedding of YouTuber Atta Halilintar and actress Aurel Hermansyah, which was held at the luxury Raffles Hotel in Jakarta.

The State Secretariat even posted a photograph on its official Twitter account showing Widodo and First Lady Iriana Hadiri greeting Halilintar and Hermansyah at the event.

The post immediately drew a storm of criticism from netizens some of whom reposted old viral videos and news clippings showing authorities clamping down harshly on people holding wedding receptions due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Others such as musician Fiersa Besari said Widodo's attendance speaks loudly about how the rule of law applies in Indonesia.

"There are many paradoxes in this country. Mudik (Eid homecoming) is banned, but tourist destinations are opening in unison. They shut major roads, but there are traffic jams everywhere. They make it difficult for regular people to obtain permission to hold wedding receptions, but a celebrity wedding is attended by state officials. Ah, what do I know? I'm just a commoner". – Fiersa Besari (@FiersaBesari) April 3, 2021.

In a similar vein, a tweet by Farrah Salim (@SalimFarrah) on April 4 read, "Thank you Atta and Aurel for showing the people where they stand in the eyes of the law and justice in this nation".

Meanwhile the head of the recently banned Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Habib Rizieq Shihab, is standing trial for incitement and violating health protocols over his daughter's wedding reception and another large public gathering in Megamendung, Bogor, both of which took place in November last year.

While few Indonesians have much sympathy for Shihab and his ultra-conservative and often violent brand of Islam, many see his prosecution as a way for the regime to rid themselves of a vocal government critic and potential political force that could be mobilised behind a rival presidential candidate in 2024.

Widodo also became the target of public criticism in February following a presidential visit in Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara, which drew large crowds that according to videos circulation on social media clearly violated health protocols but were ignored by police.

Police later refused to accept an official complaint over the violations submitted by the Anti-Injustice Social Coalition who said it raised questions about the principle of equality before the law.

[Based on an April 5 article titled "Backlash as President Jokowi attends celebrity wedding amid pandemic" by Coconuts Jakarta:]