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Jakarta Post

Election debate in public spotlight

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 9, 2019   /   08:33 am
Election debate in public spotlight Give peace a chance: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (center), who is running for a second term, and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin (second left), along with presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (second right) and his running mate Sandiaga Uno (right), release pigeons during a peace declaration for the 2019 election campaign at the National Monument in Jakarta on Sunday. With the declaration, the campaign period for the presidential election, scheduled for April next year, officially kicked off, pitting Jokowi once more against his opponent in the 2014 election. (The Jakarta Post/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Voters have expressed mixed responses over the General Elections Commission’s (KPU) decision to provide presidential candidate pairs the list of questions before the first election debate next week.

While the KPU and two rival camps have decided to give the policy a go, some voters have argued that it will hinder them from assessing the real quality of the candidates during the election debates.

Desta, a 34-year-old graphic designer, said he wanted to watch the debates to gain a better understanding over the candidates. He especially wanted to learn about the candidates’ stances on certain issues before voting day in April.

However, he preferred that the candidates did not know the questions beforehand, so that their answers would be more genuine.

“The list of questions may be given to prevent both camps from attacking each other during the debate, but no one can actually guarantee that such a thing will happen,” Desta said on Tuesday.

“One of the traits a leader must have is a strong mentality and he must be able to stay calm under pressure,” he went on, “If one can’t handle attacks, why should he or she aspire to be a leader?”

Nadia Khairani, 25, also shared Desta’s view, saying she was worried that the debate would turn into a mundane show, assuming that the campaign teams of both camps would carefully prepare the answer to each question.

Nevertheless, Nadia said she still planned to watch the upcoming debate between Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin and Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno.

“The events are still important to convince voters on whom to vote for in the election,” she said.

Not all voters thought it was a bad idea to hand over the list of questions to the candidates before the actual debate takes place. Fuad Tri, 28, said the debate might turn into a war of facts and data, which can be a good thing.

The first election debate, slated for Jan. 17 at Bidakara Hotel in South Jakarta, will cover law, human rights, corruption and terrorism.

Six prominent panelists involved in preparing the questions include National Commission on Human Rights chairman Ahmad Taufik Damanik, former Supreme Court chief justice Bagir Manan and international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana.

The remaining panelists comprise constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti, legal analyst Margarito Kamis and Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Agus Rahardjo, though Agus will not attend the debate to protect the dignity of the KPK as an independent body.

The debate will be divided into six segments, in which the second to fifth segments will cover questions and answers. Candidates will present their vision in the first and provide closing statements in the sixth segment, KPU chairman Arief Budiman said.

In the second and third segments, the election contenders will answer questions from the panelists, which will be given randomly from the list of questions given to the candidates several days before the debate. There will be five questions in each segment.

Each candidate pair will question their rival during the fourth and fifth segments. Both camps have kept the questions confidential from each other, Arief said.

“[In the fourth and fifth segment] the two pairs will also respond to each other’s answers, so the public's expectation for [the candidates] answering unknown questions in the debate can be fulfilled,” Arief said.

Both the Jokowi-Ma’ruf and Prabowo-Sandiaga tickets welcomed the KPU’s plan to give them the list of questions from the panelists as they are now gearing up to prepare for the first debate next week.

Ma’ruf said he had made preparations with a team of experts from his coalition, adding that even with the list of questions as a reference, it would not be an easy debate. “There are many questions, we don’t know which ones we will be asked on the D-day,” he said.

Prabowo campaign team deputy chairman Priyo Budi Santoso concurred with Ma’ruf, saying that the list only mentioned general questions.

“The most important thing is that both candidate pairs can explain and explore their vision during the debate,” he said.

The public can watch the Jan. 17 debate live on several television stations, including TVRI, Kompas TV and RTV, as well as listen in on national radio station RRI. (swd)