JAKARTA (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): A viral Instagram selfie video uploaded recently by the daughter of the chairman of Indonesia's ruling political party has drawn flak for depicting President Joko Widodo as being summoned by a superior.
The video was posted on Tuesday (June 21), the first of a three-day annual meeting of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), by Puan Maharani, daughter of chairman Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Widodo was seated in an ordinary chair across a desk facing Megawati, who sat in an executive chair. She was seen speaking to the President and three other people seated on one side of the room.
"We are getting ready for the opening of the annual national working meeting. Madam is having serious talk with the president," Puan was heard speaking in the video, referring to her mother.
At one point, Widodo turned to wave briefly at the camera.
Puan then introduced the rest of the people in the room - party treasurer Olly Dondo Kambey, Cabinet secretary Pramono Anung, and chief of the country's intelligence unit Budi Gunawan.
The video, which has since been widely circulated, drew negative reactions on social media, with many criticising the posting of the video as a lack of ethics, and an act intended to show that a ruling party chairman is above the President.
Instagram user Anisa.dwi said: "It looked as if the President was summoned by a class teacher, sitting on that chair. It was totally impolite."
Netizen Arif Wicak described Widodo as being "treated as if he was not President." Another netizen Muhammad Hafiz said: "(They) wanted to make it look like (PDI-P) party chairman is a higher position than a President."
Political observers agreed with the netizens, saying that no one should have shot such a video, let alone upload it on social media.
"The video could be interpreted in multiple ways," noted Hendri Satrio, who teaches political communications at Paramadina University in Jakarta.
"From his gesture, it tells that Jokowi was being agreeable to whatever was said to him, at least during that particular moment," Hendri said, using a moniker for the president.
The Straits Times has contacted the presidential palace for a comment.
In a speech during a PDI-P congress in 2015, six months after Widodo was inaugurated as President, Megawati said she demanded that Widodo obey party orders because he was just a party official and that she was in charge of the party, and therefore she ordered Widodo to toe the party line.
Throughout his time in office, Widodo has had several run-ins with Megawati, including on the question of who should fill key strategic posts such as Cabinet members and the police chief. He had faced threats of withdrawal of support from PDI-P for his agenda and he had to struggle for the backing of other political parties.
Indonesia adopts a presidential system where Widodo, as the chief executive, has the prerogative to appoint ministers and replace any underperforming ones at any time during his term in office. But in filling Cabinet posts, the President has to balance political stability with competency when he selects from candidates or cadres proposed by the political parties that back him.
Widodo faced such a situation in May when he wanted to do a major reshuffle of his economic portfolio ministers but ended up only replacing two amid resistance from political parties, observers noted.
With global economic uncertainty on the rise, Widodo had reportedly planned to reshuffle a number of posts filled by underperforming politicians.
In his speech at PDI-P's annual meeting this week, Widodo raised the extent of the problem the global economy is facing as a result of the ongoing multiple crises and said that as many as 60 nations may see their economy collapse.
In a hint of his unease, he spoke about the need for everyone to work together to achieve a common goal, pointing out that each political party has cadres with differing qualifications.
"Those who are good at (courting) the grassroots should work in the field, while others who are good at formulating strategies should focus on that... There are cadres who are good at being MPs, others at being ministers. Everyone should be assigned tasks according to his respective strengths," Widodo said.