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Jakarta Post

Prabowo-Sandi campaign team upset over cancellation of pre-debate event 

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, January 5, 2019   /   03:13 pm
Prabowo-Sandi campaign team upset over cancellation of pre-debate event  Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (left) and vice presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno raise their thumbs after a health check at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Jakarta on Aug. 13, 2018. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

The campaign team of Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno was disappointed with the decision of the General Election Commission (KPU) to cancel the presentation of each candidate's vision and mission, which had been scheduled to take place on Jan. 9, before the Jan. 17 presidential debate.

“We are disappointed. They should have held it as a preliminary event before the candidate pairs meet face to face in a debate," Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team member Sudirman Said said in a written statement on Saturday.

He claimed the decision was made because the campaign team of incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Maruf Amien insisted that the vision and mission explanations should be delivered by the campaign team only, while the Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team wanted it to be delivered both by the candidates and the team.

“The public has the right to get information directly from the candidates. They would see how the candidates plan to handle all the problems that occur in this nation and how well the candidates understand the nation's problems," he said.

Said added that the reason why the KPU must keep to the agenda is to ensure the efficiency of the upcoming debate. 

“So that in the presidential debate, the two candidates only need to provide insights according to their vision and mission. It is not to be a petty debate that could make it difficult for people to remind [the candidates of] their promises,” he said.

However, he said that the team still respected the decision.

"We respect the decision, but we hope that it will do better in the future," he said.

In the past three months of the seven-month campaign period the campaign teams of both presidential candidates have generally refrained from politicizing religion, race or ethnicity in their speeches.

However, Prabowo and his camp have been strongly criticized for politicizing Islam, a strategy that granted his party a victory in the last Jakarta election, in which Gerindra and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) supported former education minister Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga as governor and deputy governor.

The strategy, which started in the 2014 presidential election, has been condemned for causing division and polarization in the country, in fundamental contradiction to Prabowo’s supposedly patriotic image. (ggq/yan)