June 7th 2014

  Buy Issue 2925

Articles from this issue:

ECONOMIC AGENDA: Cut the deficit while boosting infrastructure

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Tony Abbott faces winter of discontent

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Greens' bid to legalise same-sex 'marriage' by stealth

SOCIETY: Why all the fuss over same-sex marriage?

EDITORIAL: Ukraine election opens door to reconciliation

UNITED STATES: The secret history of Washington-Wall Street collusion

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: 400 million child brides: a global scandal

LIFE ISSUES: 'Bring it on': euthanasia doctor dares police to prosecute him

NEW ZEALAND: Families benefit from NZ budget surplus

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Extraordinary background to new Indian PM

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Indonesia's two presidential candidates in tight battle


CINEMA: A fantastical world suffused with melancholy

BOOK REVIEW The man who would be PM

BOOK REVIEW Uplifting perspective on ageing

BOOK REVIEW: A tale of espionage with a hidden sting

Books promotion page

Indonesia's two presidential candidates in tight battle

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, June 7, 2014

On July 7, Indonesians will go to the polls in an election which will have important implications for the whole of South-East Asia, and Australia.

The presidential election follows legislative elections which took place last April.

In those elections, no party secured a majority of seats in the People’s Representative Council, but the largest groupings were Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party — Struggle) with 19 per cent; Golkar (the party of former President Suharto) 15 per cent; Gerindra (Greater Indonesia Movement) 12 per cent; and retiring President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party, 10 per cent.

Joko Widodo. 

In Indonesia’s political system, most authority is vested in the elected president, but candidates for president must be supported by parties commanding at least 20 per cent of the electorate.

As none of the main parties secured 20 per cent of the vote in the April legislative elections, they needed to form coalitions behind particular candidates for the presidency.

After months of horse-trading, the major parties have now settled behind two candidates: Joko Widodo, the popular mayor of Jakarta, and Prabowo Subianto, leader of Gerindra, a businessman and, earlier, lieutenant-general in the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).

Both are formidable figures, and represent different forces in Indonesian society.

Widodo, a member of Megawati’s party, was born in Surakarta, a city in central Java far from the bright lights of the capital, Jakarta, where he attended school. He later attended one of Indonesia’s top universities, where he studied engineering.

Returning to Surakarta, he was a small businessman, before deciding to stand for election as mayor. Elected in 2005, he immediately embarked on an energetic policy of developing the city’s natural attractions, countering corruption, visiting poor areas in person, and improving public and civic amenities.

His strong leadership style was based on building a personal relationship with the people of his city, and a can-do style of getting things done. He modelled many of his reforms on European cities which he had visited on business, and had Surakarta nominated as a member of the Organisation of World Heritage Cities.

In October 2008 he hosted the organisation’s meeting in Surakarta.

Even before the elections for mayor of Jakarta were held in 2012, he was widely touted as a front-running candidate.

In the event, he defeated the incumbent mayor, and took office in 2012.

Immediately, he set about tackling some of the city’s major problems, including a road gridlock, inadequate municipal sewerage and poorer people’s lack of access to the city’s healthcare program.

His record in these areas was generally positive, but sections of the media said he had moved too fast to try to solve problems, raising expectations which could not be met.

Nevertheless, he has a good track record, and represents the underclass of Indonesian society.

On the other hand, Prabowo Subianto is wealthy, is closely aligned with Indonesia’s powerful political elite and has strong links with the armed forces, the TNI, dating back to his years of military service.

His father was an economist, and his grandfather was the founder of the Indonesian State Bank (Bank Negara Indonesia) and one of the leaders of the pro-independence movement in the 1940s.

His father urged him to join the army, which he joined in 1970 and served for 28 years. He married the daughter of President Suharto, but the marriage did not last.

He was involved in many of the most controversial aspects of Indonesian military operations in that period, particularly, the attempt to suppress the independence movement in East Timor (1975-99), the brutal campaign against the Free Papua Movement in West Papua, and the civil unrest which surrounded the resignation of President Suharto in 1998.

Although his involvement in these issues caused some concern in the West, in Indonesia they are regarded as proof of his patriotism. The TNI is generally very highly regarded in Indonesia, as one of the pillars of society and a body which has united a nation comprising an archipelago of hundreds of islands.

Prabowo rose to the rank of lieutenant-general, but, following the resignation of Suharto, resigned from the army. He went into business with his brother, buying a pulp and paper plantation in Kalimantan, which has expanded into a complex business empire.

He has therefore strong links to Jakarta’s financial elite, and has cultivated ties with farmers through the Indonesian Farmers Association, small retailers through the Traditional Market Traders’ Association, and a martial arts association. He has been elected president of all three organisations.

He has also cultivated ties with the Islamic leadership in Indonesia, and his presidency is supported by four small Islamic parties.

The elections in July are a contest between power and patriotism on one hand, and youth and energy on the other. It will be a close race. 

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Memo to Shorten, Wong: LGBTIs don't want it

COVER STORY Shorten takes low road to defeat marriage plebiscite

COVER STORY Reaper mows down first child in the Low Countries

COVER STORY Bill Shorten imposes his political will on the nation

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Kevin Andrews: defend marriage on principles

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

ENVIRONMENT More pseudo science from climate

News and views from around the world

Menzies, myth and modern Australia (Jonathan Pincus)

China’s utterly disgraceful human-rights record

Japan’s cure for childlessness: a robot (Marcus Roberts)

SOGI laws: a subversive response to a non-existent problem (James Gottry)

Shakespeare, Cervantes and the romance of the real (R.V. Young)

That’s not funny: PC and humour (Anthony Sacramone)

Refugees celebrate capture of terror suspect

The Spectre of soft totalitarianism (Daniel Mahoney)

American dream more dead than you thought (Eric Levitz)

Think the world is overcrowded: These 10 maps show why you’re wrong (Max Galka)

© Copyright NewsWeekly.com.au 2011
Last Modified:
November 14, 2015, 11:18 am