There is the court of law and there is the court of public opinion.
The victor in the court of law is, theoretically at least, the party that has evidence and is on the right side of the law. The scales of justice are tipped by well-reasoned legal arguments and proof.
Victory in the court of public opinion has two paths.
The more difficult path is for the party to persuade the audience with well-constructed legal and moral arguments that appeal to the mind as well as the heart.
The second is an easier path, that of demagoguery. As we have witnessed with Trump, in such instances facts do not matter, morality and character do not matter; what matters will be the ability of the party to bully, threaten, interrupt, shout down and make all sorts of accusations against their adversary. Force of personality plays a large part.
It is interesting that the famous Hotman Paris — who is now representing Maybank in a case in which e-sports star Winda Lunardi and her mother allege that the branch manager had embezzled them of Rp22 billion, and in which Maybank has refused to take any responsibility to compensate them — now wants to shift the case to a court of very public opinion.
Why is he doing so?
Apart from all the free publicity he would get if a TV station was to take up his offer of having all parties – with their lawyers present, of course – duke it out on prime time, there is the prospect that he could put his powers persuasion to work no win the case.
But which path do you think he will take? That of moral suasion or that of demagoguery?
Does anyone else smell the same whiff of desperation in the air as Unspun? One would think that there are people in Indonesia who still think that rent-a-crowds would convince the public that public opinion is behind them.
Such people live in a world of their own divorced from reality. Technology has rendered much of the opaque business of gauging public opinion transparent. We all not only would know if the Emperor has no clothes but we can publish it online, and have it amplified by other onliners.
Nine rallies are scheduled for Jakarta on Thursday and will likely cause traffic delays.
According to Jakarta Police’s Traffic Management Center, the first demonstration began at 9 a.m. at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. A second rally was held outside the Supreme Court building at Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara at the same time.
The State Palace, which is located on the same street as the Supreme Court, will be the site of three rallies that will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Groups of activists will come to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) at 10 a.m. and will march to the Presidential Advisory Board office. A different group of activists will also hold a rally at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and march to the front of the National Police Headquarters on Jalan Trunojoyo in South Jakarta.
At 10:30 a.m. demonstrators will rally in front of the Chinese Embassy on Jalan Rasuna Said. Later in the afternoon activists will hold a rally at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.
There is also a rally planned at the office of the representative of North Maluku on Jalan Cempaka Putih, Central Jakarta, and a hunger strike planned at the KPK building.