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Jakarta Post

Rival camps gear up for second presidential debate

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, February 17, 2019   /   10:01 am
Rival camps gear up for second presidential debate Presidential candidates Joko Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin, General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Arief Budiman (center) and presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno are on stage during the first candidate debate on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The second election debate is a few days away and the teams of both incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and challenger Prabowo Subianto are gearing up for the upcoming face-off between the two presidential candidates.

Slated for Feb. 17, the debate is expected to let the two rival camps convey their visions and programs on the topics of food, energy, natural resources, environment and infrastructure.

Read also: Preview: What to expect from upcoming presidential debate on energy

A special team in the incumbent’s camp has begun preparations, though so far its focus has mainly been to prepare materials for the debate, Jokowi and Ma’ruf Amin’s political communications director, Usman Kansong, said.

“We have carried out a focus group discussion and gathered input from experts, as well as from members of our team,” Usman said. “During the brainstorming, we shared our insights and data to anticipate a wide range of issues that may come up later.”

The experts involved in providing input included lawmaker Inas Nasrullah Zubir, who had served on the House of Representatives’ Commission VII on energy and minerals, former Greenpeace Southeast Asia director Emmy Hafild and Roosdinal Salim, the son of economist and former environment minister Emil Salim.

Usman said they would also looked into criticisms from activists and members of the public on policies issued by Jokowi’s administration regarding the five topics and aim to address each one.

Among the topics in the second debate, infrastructure was considered to be Jokowi’s strength in his reelection bid as his supporters have intensely promoted the incumbent’s achievements, such as the development of toll roads in the country’s regions.

The opposition camp, however, often criticized Jokowi’s administration for relying on foreign loans for infrastructure development across the country, with Prabowo and running mate Sandiaga Uno promising they would develop infrastructure without foreign loans.

Jokowi’s team is to prepare information to answer claims from the opposition, such as data on the government’s debts used to pay for infrastructure development, as well as on how toll roads actually reduce the cost of distributing goods, Usman said.

“We will also stick to promoting concrete programs like, for instance, the use of 50 percent blended biodiesel, or b50, which aims at reducing air pollutants and fuel imports,” Usman said.

After evaluating the first debate, the KPU decided not to give the two presidential candidates the list of questions from the panelists before the second debate.

Jokowi’s and Prabowo’s campaign teams also discussed with the KPU about having more time allocated in certain segments for the two candidates to debate freely and about allowing the moderators to be more active to enliven the debate.

Meanwhile, the opposition coalition is to soon hold a meeting with representatives of all of its political parties to organize a strategy for the second debate, said Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team official Sudirman Said.

The parties would also hold discussions with lawmakers from three of the relevant House commissions to get more input on the issues to be debated, he said.

Gerindra Party secretary-general Ahmad Muzani said that Prabowo would not be “too aggressive” in the second debate, following advice that the contender should not attack his rival.

“Prabowo wants to win [the debate], but not with arrogance,” Muzani said.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Feb. 7, 2019, with the title "Rival camps gear up for second presidential debate".