Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo used the annual joint session of the People's Consultative Assembly on Wednesday to express his growing apprehension about the persistent barrage of insults and derogatory remarks targeted at him.
While acknowledging his personal ability to withstand verbal abuse from political adversaries, the president said that the declining sense of empathy and political decorum poses a significant challenge to the nation's core values.
"What makes me sad is that the cultural values and moral standards of this nation seem to be eroding. The principles of freedom and democracy are being misused to propagate hatred and slanderous language," the president told the session attended by lawmakers, senators, former leaders, and distinguished guests at the legislative complex in Jakarta.
"I am well aware that people may label me as ignorant, unintelligent, clueless, or even [use a derogatory comparison to] a Pharaoh, and I'm not allowing myself to be disturbed by such remarks," Jokowi said in his penultimate State of the Union Address.
However, he said other people may not possess the same resilience against verbal abuse which can spread quickly in an era of pervasive information technology. He cautioned that such abuses have the potential to escalate and, if unchecked, threaten the unity of the nation.