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Indonesia 2023 review: Preparations for 2024 presidential election, tragedies, and technological breakthroughs

Indonesia in 2023 witnessed crucial events: preparations for the 2024 presidential election with three candidate pairs, controversies over age limits, intense debates shaping public perception, overseas voting challenges, tragic incidents, and technological milestones, including a groundbreaking satellite launch and the inauguration of Southeast Asia’s first bullet train.

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INDONESIA: As the curtains drew close on 2023, Indonesia navigated a diverse landscape of events, ranging from the unfolding dynamics of the upcoming 2024 presidential election to confronting heartbreaking disasters and accidents.

Amidst these challenges, the nation also witnessed remarkable strides in technology and transportation, encapsulating a year that mirrored the multifaceted nature of Indonesia’s journey.

Indonesia braces for presidential election amid controversy and dynastic politics discussion

In 2023, Indonesia is gearing up for a significant event—the preparations for the 2024 presidential election.

The election will feature three pairs of candidates: Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar, Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka, and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD.

The General Election Commission (KPU) in Indonesia has officially announced that the voting day for the 2024 General Election is scheduled for 14 February 2024.

One of the most controversial episodes leading up to the 2024 presidential election was a Constitutional Court hearing concerning the minimum age limit for vice presidential candidates.

Initially rejecting three files, the Constitutional Court eventually accepted some of the lawsuit files that were submitted.

The court’s decision established a minimum age requirement of 40 years or having held an elected position through general elections, including regional leadership.

This decision stirred public discourse, particularly because it was perceived as potentially facilitating Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the first son of President Joko Widodo, to run as a vice presidential candidate alongside Prabowo Subianto.

This development sparked discussions among netizens, who brought up the term “dynastic politics” in connection with Gibran’s nomination as a vice presidential candidate.

The unfolding events and decisions leading up to the 2024 presidential election are capturing the attention and engagement of the Indonesian public.

Presidential candidates officially registered and numbered as Indonesia prepares for 2024 election

Amid the controversy following the Constitutional Court’s decision, the confirmation of Gibran’s vice-presidential candidacy occurred when he and Prabowo officially registered with the General Election Commission (KPU) on 25 October.

Earlier, the pairs Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD completed registration on 19 October.

The KPU conducted verifications and medical check-ups for all three couples, marking the start of the 2024 Presidential Election series.

It also announced that all three pairs met the presidential threshold, securing a minimum of 25 percent of valid voters nationally, and passed the health examination at the Gatot Subroto Central Army Hospital.

On 14 November, the KPU assigned ballot numbers for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, which will feature on ballot papers during the voting process on 14 February 2024 and any potential runoff election.

The allocation of numbers followed a predetermined order, with Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar securing number one, Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming assigned number two, and Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD obtaining number three.

The stage is now set for the upcoming election, with candidates and their assigned numbers awaiting the electorate’s decision.

Debates shape public perception: Anies Baswedan leads in first round, Gibran Rakabuming gains attention in vice presidential face-off

As the journey toward the 2024 Presidential Election unfolds, the debates between presidential and vice-presidential candidates stand out as crucial steps in confirming citizens’ choices.

The first debate, held on Tuesday night (12 Dec), focused on the presidential candidates and took place in the courtyard of the General Election Commission (KPU) Office in Jakarta.

Anies Baswedan, Prabowo Subianto, and Ganjar Pranowo, along with their representatives—Muhaimin Iskandar (Cak Imin), Gibran Rakabuming Raka, and Mahfud MD—and a chorus of supporters participated.

Broadcast live on television and social media, the debate covered themes such as government, law, human rights (HAM), corruption eradication, democracy strengthening, public services improvement, and citizen harmony.

According to the latest Indonesian Political Indicators Survey, 35.5 percent of viewers believed that Anies Baswedan outperformed the other candidates in the debate, placing him in the lead.

Prabowo Subianto followed in second place with 28.9 percent positive assessments, while Ganjar Pranowo secured third place with 26.9 percent.

The second debate, centered on vice-presidential candidates, took place on Friday (22 Dec) at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC).

Broadcasted across multiple television networks, it covered themes such as the people’s economy, digital financial economy, investment, taxes, trade, state budget and APBD management, infrastructure, and urban areas.

The three vice-presidential candidates—Muhaimin Iskandar with Anies Baswedan, Gibran Rakabuming with Prabowo Subianto, and Mahfud MD with Ganjar Pranowo—participated.

Research by Continuum Indef highlighted that Gibran Rakabuming’s performance captured significant public attention, distinguishing him from Muhaimin Iskandar (Cak Imin), who faced notable negative sentiment from netizens.

The Prabowo-Gibran pair garnered a positive sentiment of 77.69%, whereas the Ganjar-Mahfud pair received a positive sentiment of 64.03%.

In contrast, the Anies-Muhaimin pair only secured a minimal positive sentiment of 4.27%, with netizens perceiving Cak Imin’s debate performance as lacking.

The anticipation for the upcoming presidential debate, scheduled for 7 January 2024, adds to the unfolding dynamics of the electoral process.

2024 Indonesia presidential election spurs overseas voting challenges and controversies

The 2024 Presidential Election in Indonesia is not only significant for citizens within the country but also holds relevance for Indonesian citizens residing abroad.

KPU is facing challenges obtaining permits for polling stations in Hong Kong and Macau due to the Chinese New Year holiday coinciding with the election day on 14 February 2024.

Commissioner Idham Kholik proposed mail-in voting as a solution to address permit difficulties during the holiday.

The Chinese government recommended holding elections only within the Indonesian Consulate General premises on 13 February 2024, affecting 164,691 registered voters in China.

Concerns about potential long queues in Hong Kong prompted active coordination between the KPU and the Chinese government.

In Taipei, the Overseas Election Committee (PPLN) distributed ballots ahead of schedule, sparking concerns and public outcry.

Chairman Hasyim Asy’ari acknowledged the oversight and explained the legal framework allowing voting outside the country earlier than or simultaneously with domestic voting, up to 30 days before the designated voting day at each PPLN.

Despite concerns about administrative violations, suggestions for improvement were provided by Bawaslu, urging efficient consideration by the KPU.

These included refraining from labelling mailed ballots as damaged, monitoring PPLNs in various regions, and promoting nationwide voter awareness on social media during mail-in voting to ensure secrecy.

Tragic events unfold, ranging from natural disasters to industrial accidents

In 2023, alongside news of the Presidential Election, Indonesia faced a series of heartbreaking disasters and accidents.

In September, Mount Bromo National Park witnessed a tragic incident as fire engulfed the Watangan Valley Savanna, also known as Teletubbies Hill.

The blaze, believed to have been sparked by visitors using flares during a pre-wedding photo session on 6 September, resulted in an affected area spanning 274.71 hectares.

In early December, Mount Marapi, a prominent volcanic peak in West Sumatra’s Agam and Tanah Datar Regencies, erupted.

Soaring to 2,891 meters above sea level, the eruption expelled a column of ash and volcanic materials up to 3,000 meters, accompanied by a resounding roar.

This event, tragically, impacted 75 individuals, with 52 survivors and 23 declared deceased.

Adding to the series of unfortunate events, a devastating incident occurred at the nickel smelter owned by PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel (ITSS) on 24 December.

The explosion of a furnace during repairs led to 19 casualties, with 11 Indonesian workers and 8 foreign workers losing their lives.

This incident prompted protests from workers advocating for improved working conditions and workplace safety.

Satria-1 satellite and WHOOSH bullet train mark milestones in bridging digital gaps and revolutionizing transportation

Exciting and proud news emerges from Indonesia’s technological advancements.

The Republic of Indonesia Satellite, Satria-1, launched on 18 June from Cape Canaveral, Florida, plays a crucial role in bringing internet access to remote areas.

Successfully positioned at 146 degrees East Longitude, approximately 36 thousand kilometers above Papua, Satria-1 underwent a 145-day Electric Orbit Raising (EOR) process.

This transition from satellite separation to reaching its designated orbital slot marked a milestone.

Post-achievement, trials were conducted to optimize the internet service, aiming to bridge the digital divide in Indonesia.

In another stride, Indonesia inaugurated Southeast Asia’s first-ever bullet train on 2 October.

Part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the US$7.3 billion project connects Jakarta and Bandung in West Java.

Despite delays, the high-speed rail offers an efficient transportation solution.

The WHOOSH, covering 142.3 kilometres, runs on electricity, producing no direct carbon emissions, and operates at an impressive speed of approximately 217 miles per hour.

This development marks a significant milestone in the country’s infrastructure, providing a swift and reliable travel option between the capital and Indonesia’s cultural hub.

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