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Presidential candidates offer visions for Indonesia’s future in final debate

The 2024 Indonesian Presidential Election’s concluding debate covered crucial topics like social welfare, culture, technology, education, health, employment, and inclusion.

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INDONESIA: The fifth and final presidential debate for the 2024 election was held Sunday night (4 Feb) at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC), focusing on a variety of key issues including social welfare, culture, information technology, education, health, employment, human resources, and inclusion.

Among the topics discussed, the issue of social assistance (bansos) resurfaced, following concerns over its politicization in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential election.

Additionally, the three presidential candidates engaged in arguments concerning stunting, the fate of migrant workers, and education.

During the question-and-answer session, presidential candidate number 2, Prabowo Subianto, addressed the issue of stunting in Indonesia, proposing nutritious food for all Indonesian children to combat stunting.

However, candidate number 3, Ganjar Pranowo, disagreed with Prabowo’s approach, emphasizing that stunting should be addressed from the time the baby is in the womb, focusing on providing nutrition to pregnant mothers.

Furthermore, Ganjar highlighted the importance of preventing obesity and suggested addressing stunting before young people marry, advocating for health checks for potential spouses and adequate nutrition.

Prabowo persisted in his stance, asserting that stunting is primarily caused by inadequate nutrition and emphasizing the need for intervention, including addressing poverty.

The debate also touched upon digital inequality, with Ganjar advocating for free internet access to bridge educational, health, and poverty gaps.

Prabowo clarified his previous remarks on free internet, citing the importance of providing basic needs such as food before addressing digital access.

Dicky Budiman, a health expert from the Centre for Environmental and Population Health at Griffith University, criticized the prevailing misconception that stunting can be resolved solely through food.

He emphasized the need for comprehensive solutions to address stunting effectively in Indonesia.

Regarding internet penetration, Professor Ridi Ferdiana, Director of Information Technology at UGM, noted the increasing overall penetration rate but highlighted disparities between urban and rural areas.

He suggested that future presidents should focus on reducing investment burdens and fostering synergy among stakeholders to maximize the economic potential of internet connectivity.

The debate also addressed issues in higher education, particularly the controversy surrounding single-tuition fees (UKT) and student loans.

Ganjar proposed halting the liberalization of education and ensuring equal opportunities for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Anies Baswedan highlighted education as an investment in building the middle class and pledged to address disparities if elected.

Debate criticized for lack of concrete solutions and political rhetoric

However, the debate received criticism for its lack of concrete solutions and political rhetoric.

Ubaid Matraji, Director of the Indonesian Education Monitoring Network (JPPI), lamented the candidates’ failure to address structural issues in the education system, particularly the status of public universities.

In their closing statements, the candidates reiterated their commitments to addressing poverty, inequality, and corruption, promising to prioritize the welfare of all Indonesians if elected.

Presidential candidate number 1, Anies Baswedan, promises attention to civil servants, military, and police if trusted to lead Indonesia through the 2024 presidential election; He also vows to fight inequality if given the mandate as a president.

“Those who thrive on inequality, who gain power from it. That’s who we fight against. But we don’t fight with hatred and dislike,” says Anies.

Meanwhile, Prabowo states that if entrusted by the people, Prabowo-Gibran will be a national leader for all Indonesians.

“I will be President for all Indonesians, including those who didn’t vote for me and those who don’t believe in me, I will fight for all Indonesians,” says Prabowo.

“We are determined to eradicate poverty from Indonesia. We are determined to eliminate hunger and malnutrition for the people of Indonesia. We are determined to reduce maternal mortality,” says Prabowo.

Prabowo also says he and Gibran are fighting to eradicate corruption from the land of Indonesia and to strive for peace for the people of Indonesia and the Indonesian nation.

“Now we focus, our enemy is poverty, our enemy is hunger, our enemy is the difficulties faced by the people, we must overcome them to build a strong, fair, prosperous, and safe Indonesia for all, fair for all, Prosperous for all,” he concludes.

Meanwhile, Presidential candidate number 3, Ganjar Pranowo, says he and his running mate, Mahfud Md, have three promises if entrusted to lead Indonesia.

“Mahfud and I have three promises. Obedience to God, obedience to law and justice, and loyalty to the people,” says Ganjar.

Ganjar expresses the people’s disappointment with their leaders. “First, this nation is often disappointed by its leaders,” he added.

Ganjar mentions the people’s disappointment with unfulfilled healthcare facilities, non-inclusive education, job opportunities that do not reach more people, and the failure to effectively prevent stunting during the first thousand days of life.

Moreover, Ganjar reminds the public to uphold the democratic political process, including fighting against dynasty politics. “We must fight against dynasty politics supported by those whose statements are very open, who control one-third of Indonesia’s wealth. The people truly feel hurt by that statement,” he says.

Ganjar also emphasizes the public’s concern about public officials prioritizing family interests above all else, including the interests of the people.

“Today the campus speaks, civil society speaks, and we are reminded to ensure that the democratic process runs smoothly, and we must not let super corruption return to Indonesia. We must firmly uphold the law,” Ganjar asserts.

Political analyst Agung Baskoro commented on the debate, noting its relatively subdued nature compared to previous debates. While consensus was reached on many issues, he observed a substantive debate and meaningful exchanges between the candidates.v

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