The Jakarta Post
In a direct jab at vice-presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno campaign's running criticism of rising prices, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has claimed that fluctuating prices are "normal" and not necessarily indicative of how the economy is performing.
Jokowi posted a picture of himself making a blusukan (impromptu visit) to a traditional market in Bogor, West Java, on social media on Wednesday, saying that he had spoken to vegetable, tempeh and chicken merchants.
Blusukan tengah malam ke Pasar Bogor, mengobrol dengan pedagang sayur, tempe, dan ayam. Harga sawi hijau dan buncis turun, alpukat dan ayam naik sedikit. Harga naik dan turun itu biasa dalam perdagangan.— Joko Widodo (@jokowi) October 31, 2018
Ini sejalan dengan makro ekonomi kita. Inflasi stabil, harga pasar stabil. pic.twitter.com/pCKAVHcMrI
"The price of lettuce and green beans has gone down, while the price of avocados and chicken has gone up a little," he said. "This is in line with our macroeconomy. Inflation is stable, market prices are stable."
Ever since he was announced as Prabowo Subianto's running mate in August, Sandiaga has made numerous visits to traditional markets across the country, listening to complaints from emak-emak (housewives) about the rising price of staple foods.
During the visits, Sandiaga has made several controversial claims, including that tempeh was now sold in portions "as thin as credit cards" because of rising prices, that Rp 100,000 (US$6.58) was only enough to buy onions and chilies, and that the price of a portion of chicken rice was more expensive in Jakarta than in Singapore.
Jokowi's campaign team have previously denied Sandiaga's claims that prices have risen significantly, citing consistently low inflation rates since 2016. Campaign spokesperson Ace Hasan Syadzily even called Sandiaga's statement about chicken rice "a hoax."
This is the first time Jokowi himself has addressed Sandiaga's statements.
Besides criticizing the state of the economy, Sandiaga has also used the visits to exude a playful image: on one visit, he wore a bunch of petai, a pungent vegetable, on his head; on another, he used a block of tempeh like a telephone.
Sandiaga's has attributed his comment in early September about the price of tempeh being so high that one seller had to cut tempeh as thin as a credit card to "Ibu Yuli" in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta. He has also repeated a claim by "Ibu Yani" of Sendiko Market in Semarang, Central Java, that tempeh pieces were wrapped in smaller packages last month. She called them "tempeh in a sachet", likening it to shampoo in a sachet.
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita responded to Sandiaga's statement about the necessity to cut tempeh thinner, saying that when making tempeh chips, it should indeed be cut thin. (evi)