Indonesia presidential hopeful raises rhetoric ahead of vote

Indonesia’s opposition presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto, has criticised his opponent’s economic record and heavy infrastructural spending ahead of next week’s election.

The largely uninspiring campaign for the April 17 presidential poll between President Joko Widodo and Subianto has centred around the economy.

Prabowo is widely judged to be campaigning with less enthusiasm than in 2014, when he narrowly lost to “Jokowi”.

Prabowo, who Jokowi beat to win the presidency in 2014, told a rally in Jakarta that the archipelago’s “wealth is robbed continuously, taken and sent abroad”. The plunder would cost the country 10,000 trillion rupiah (US$708 billion) over the next five years, the former general estimated.

“Indonesians are fed up, want improvement, want change,” Prabowo said. The outsider claimed “more than a million” attended his rally, although the crowd size was not independently verified

“We are fed up with corruption, with injustice and we cannot accept any more that we are ridiculed and insulted … Indonesians understand, Indonesians are not stupid,” he told the crowd at stadium where Persija Jakarta Football Club play.

“God willing, if we are given a chance, we will defend the people, we will fight injustice, we will fight the leaders who cheat the people.

“I am standing up here because I think our country is sick, our country is being raped, that our wealth is continuously taken away. People’s rights are taken away.

“A lot of people don’t even have clean water. Some people are starving. What kind of a country is this, 73 years after independence, where the people are starving and we cannot feed them?”

Jokowi is forecast to win, according to a Roy Morgan poll this month that put support for him at almost 57 per cent.

Earlier polls had put the incumbent’s lead in double digits.

Prabowo has narrowed the deficit, especially in urban areas, with a promise to lower prices and to get a “better” trade deal with China. The Indonesian economy has been growing at about 5 per cent, below the 7 per cent targeted by the president when he took office in 2014.

The president hailed his government’s achievements in infrastructural investments in road and rail projects and how they would continue if Indonesians chose to give him a second and final term. But his challenger has condemned the cost of infrastructural payments.

Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto hug an Indonesian pencak silat star Hanifan Yudani Kusumah after he won gold in the 2018 Asian Games. Picture credit: Wikimedia