JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Observers expressed disappointment over the recent Indonesian vice-presidential debate as the candidates fell short in delivering substantive discussions.
Criticism was directed at all three candidates for lacking depth in addressing crucial issues and failing to provide comprehensive solutions.
The debate, held at the Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC) and broadcast across multiple television networks, marked the inaugural vice-presidential debate and was organized by the Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU).
The three vice-presidential candidates are Abdul Muhaimin Iskandar running alongside Anies Baswedan, Gibran Rakabuming alongside Prabowo Subianto, and Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin alongside Ganjar Pranowo.
The debate focuses on the themes of the people’s economy, digital financial economy, investment, taxes, trade, state budget and APBD management, infrastructure, and urban areas.
The KPU introduced 11 panellists tasked with formulating questions based on a predetermined theme. These panellists, selected by the KPU, are competent academics from various universities in Indonesia.
Heru Sutadi, a digital economy expert and Executive Director of the Indonesia ICT Institute, remarked that none of the three vice presidential candidates gained a clear advantage in articulating their vision and mission for Indonesia’s digital economy.
Speaking to ANTARA in Jakarta on Saturday, Heru stated that Muhaimin Iskandar, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, and Mahfud MD complemented each other’s perspectives.
He found it intriguing that none of the candidates displayed a significantly superior or flawed performance; instead, they complemented each other with their respective viewpoints.
“Lack of depth in populist and digital economy discussions”
Heru highlighted that the discussion on populist and digital economy themes seemed superficial and lacked depth.
He suggested that the three vice-presidential candidates delve more into these topics to provide a comprehensive understanding.
According to Heru, the discussion on the vision and mission of the digital economy holds significant importance, especially considering Indonesia’s aim to achieve developed country status by 2045.
The digital sector is anticipated to be the cornerstone of the economy across various sectors in the future.
“Ideally, providing details is crucial, but given the time constraints, it remained on the surface. ”
“Hopefully, this discussion is not merely normative but can also be translated into practical implementation in the future,” Heru remarked.
Nevertheless, he continued by noting that the three vice-presidential candidates demonstrated the ability to address other aspects related to the digital economy.
These included topics such as online loan content, cybersecurity, revisions to the Electronic Information and Transaction Law (UU ITE), data protection, human resources development and enhancement, as well as infrastructure.
in another interview, a people’s economy observer from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Hempri Suyatna, assessed that the answers from the vice presidential candidates on the issue of people’s economy and digitalisation were “not very sharp” and “not focused on the core problems faced by the community”.
According to him, the problem faced by micro/small/medium enterprises (MSME) businesses is the onslaught of illegal products entering Indonesia through digital stores in e-commerce and social commerce. It is not about online loans. His observation is that there are still digital stores in several market locations where cheap imported goods are still found.
“So it has not answered the problem because the problem is how to strengthen e-commerce in the local context and digital literacy for MSME players and how digitalisation does not only benefit capital owners, but all MSME players,” Hempri explained to BBC News Indonesia.
What aspects were overlooked during the vice-presidential debate?
Dhenny Yuartha Junifta, a researcher at INDEF’s Centre of Food, Energy, and Sustainable Development, highlighted several notable omissions from the recent vice-presidential debate.
“Firstly, the discourse on state revenue was absent. Historically, we’ve been entangled in the reliance on short-term revenue from natural resources,” Dhenny shared with BBC Indonesia.
“The significant increase in our tax ratio, especially during the commodity boom, highlights this historical trend.”
Dhenny stressed that the vice-presidential candidates should delve deeper into discussing measures to boost new revenue, specifically emphasising institutional formation.
“The commitment to raise the tax ratio doesn’t seem to involve a more in-depth exploration of how to diversify and augment new revenue sources,” he added.
Secondly, Dhenny pointed out the absence of discussion on streamlining non-priority spending during the vice-presidential debate.
“This is a crucial matter as only one-third of the state budget is allocated for development. Unfortunately, this aspect was overlooked by the vice-presidential candidates,” noted Dhenny.
Lastly, according to Dhenny, the debate lacked a comprehensive discussion on subsidy governance.
“This is a crucial aspect that was left out of the conversation,” he remarked.
Social media users respond to Gibran
In the 2024 vice-presidential debate, the public, particularly social media users, brought attention to the second vice-president candidate, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, due to the controversy surrounding his participation in the election.
The Citizen6-Liputan6.com team observed on Friday on the X timeline, formerly Twitter, that netizens initially underestimated Gibran in his exchanges with Cak Imin and Mahfud MD.
Besides his youth, Gibran consistently provides responses lacking substance in various events.
Surprisingly, in the vice-presidential debate, Gibran astonished netizens with his expressed ideas, even taking on other vice-presidential candidates.
Nevertheless, on social media, there were speculations among netizens suggesting that Gibran might have obtained information from the KPU beforehand, appearing more prepared for the debate.
Gibran’s repeated provocations and KPU’s response
During the debate, Gibran garnered cheers from the audience with another provocative gesture.
Moving away from the podium, he stepped forward, raising his hands while cheering, and even faced backwards, repeating the provocation.
This isn’t the first time Gibran faced criticism from the KPU. During the initial presidential debate on 12 December, he was reprimanded for encouraging the audience to cheer.
This incident occurred when Prabowo responded to Anies’ question about the Constitutional Court’s decision on the age limit for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, violating the code of ethics.
Following the initial disturbance, the KPU asserts issuing a warning to Gibran.
According to KPU commissioner August Mellaz, this reprimand was conveyed through the Prabowo-Gibran National Campaign Team during the evaluation meeting of the first debate.
Hasyim Asy’ari, Chairman of the KPU, clarified the existence of a commitment between the KPU and the three candidate teams to refrain from engaging in acts of agitation within the debate venue. “We expect each candidate to be politically mature enough to adhere to what has been agreed upon,” he stated.
The latest survey results for the 2024 presidential election
According to research by Continuum Indef, Gibran Rakabuming’s performance successfully captured the public’s attention, setting him apart from Muhaimin Iskandar or Cak Imin, who faced substantial negative sentiment from netizens.
The Prabowo-Gibran pair garnered a positive sentiment of 77.69% and a negative sentiment of 22.31%.
In contrast, the Ganjar-Mahfud pair received a positive sentiment of 64.03% and a negative sentiment of 35.97%. Meanwhile, the Anies-Imin pair only secured a positive sentiment of 4.27%.
“The minimal positive sentiment for Cak Imin is attributed to netizens perceiving his debate performance as lacking, potentially diminishing his electability with Anies,” quoted Continuum Indef’s research findings on Saturday (23/12/2023).
Simultaneously, various survey institutions continue to unveil results regarding the electability of the three presidential and vice-presidential candidates for 2024-2029, which resulted in candidate pair number 2, Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka, maintaining a lead in several surveys.
The upcoming presidential debate is scheduled for 7 January 2024.
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