Indonesian elections 2024

[Rappler’s Best] Faking it

Glenda M. Gloria

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[Rappler’s Best] Faking it

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Indonesia's Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto gestures during his campaign rally at the Gelora Delta Stadium in Sidoarjo, East Java province, Indonesia, February 9, 2024.

Antara Foto/Dhemas Reviyanto via Reuters

'The use of generative AI in campaigns is all over Indonesia – and it is hoped that this serves as a cautionary tale for all'

A happy Lunar Year to you! Our news team spent the Chinese New Year in Binondo, and we bring you this vlog by Rappler’s senior multimedia reporter Paterno Esmaquel II, who shows us the Seng Guan Temple, where Catholic Filipino-Chinese families continue to practice a longtime ritual of visiting Buddhist temples.

Amid the dragon dances, bountiful feasts, and stunning fireworks, what does it mean to be Filipino-Chinese? In this beautiful, aching piece by our business reporter Lance Spencer Yu, he interrogates himself, his family, his thoughts, and the muted corners of his heart, reflecting on how his yaya had been treated at home and conceding that while he’d come a “long way in unburdening myself of this prejudice,” the “past weighs on me.”

China being China, it greeted Taiwan with eight Chinese balloons that, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry, crossed the Taiwan Strait in the early hours of the lunar year – yet another form of psy-war by the Asian giant.

The week ahead is a period of reckoning for our neighbor Indonesia. They go to the polls on Wednesday, February 14, as collective memory fades. The once-dreaded military commander under the Suharto dictatorship has a 20-point lead in opinion surveys on presidential bets: the incumbent defense minister retired general Prabowo Subianto.

  • Campaign teams held their final rallies on Saturday, February 10, ahead of what has been dubbed the world’s biggest single-day election for about 205 million registered voters. 
  • In 2014, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who had served as CNN’s Jakarta bureau chief, wrote about the “Remaking of Prabowo” when he ran against – but lost to – then-candidate Joko Widodo (Jokowi). Even then, Prabowo’s rise from his political grave already astounded many. “It’s a comeback story that shows tenacity and grit, bringing a former disgraced general within touching distance of the Indonesian presidency,” Ressa wrote.
  • “It’s like Bongbong Marcos winning as president of the Philippines!” was how some Filipinos described Prabowo’s feared victory in 2014. Well.
  • Today, with the aid of technology, demographics (majority of Indonesia voters belong to a generation that has no memory or appreciation of Indonesia’s will in ousting its corrupt dictator in 1998), and the outgoing president himself, Prabowo is now truly a heartbeat away from replacing Jokowi, whose two-year term is ending. Reuters said he is projected to secure more than 50% of the votes. 
  • The use of generative AI in campaigns is all over Indonesia – and it is hoped that this serves as a cautionary tale for all. An AI-generated cartoon of a “cuddly” Prabowo is splashed on billboards across the country and has generated 19 billion views on TikTok, according to this story, “Generative AI faces major test as Indonesia holds largest election since boom.”
  • Deepfakes and their impact on elections and societies, not just in Indonesia, have been identified by the World Economic Forum 2024 report as the most severe short-term risks facing the world today. Probably too late for Indonesian youth, but this piece spells out how the young can address and fight this threat.

In the Philippines and elsewhere, February 14 is when hearts adorn the malls, offices, streets, homes. But beware of love scams, Rappler’s crime and justice reporter warns us in this story. For the first time in years, Valentine’s Day also falls on the same day as Ash Wednesday for Catholic Philippines. So, should Filipinos dine or fast on this day? We asked them in an informal poll on social media: Love for God or love for jowa? Check out the results here.

An actual survey by the Social Weather Stations, however, shows that Filipinos these days prefer money over love. How about you? –

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Glenda M. Gloria

Glenda Gloria co-founded Rappler in July 2011 and is currently its executive editor.