Speaker slips on banana peel, speechwriter falls on sword

Indonesian speechwriter's simple mistake reminds us that this is a dangerous occupation.

Speechwriting is a dangerous occupation, as Indonesian speechwriter Sukardi Rinakit was reminded, when his client, President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi), misidentified the birthplace of a very important person.

“Any Indonesian history buff should know that our first president and founding father Soekarno was born in Surabaya on June 6, 1901. But nobody told President Jokowi’s speechwriter that,” the article in Coconuts Jakarta began. “During a speech he made on Pancasila Day on June 1, President Jokowi referred to Blitar, East Java, as the birthplace of Soekarno. Needless to say, Jokowi was criticized for the mistake.”

The speechwriter took the fall: “The error was fully my mistake and I take responsibility for it. When the president was putting together the speech, he asked me … and I said Soekarno was born and buried in Blitar. President Jokowi at the time asked me to double check because he thought Soekarno was born in Surabaya.”

Next time, it could be The New York Times rather than Coconuts Jakarta, and it could be you. Let’s be careful out there. —DM

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