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The Second Debate Was Higher Quality

March 18, 2019

Please note that these translations from the original Indonesian were made by Southeast Asia Center staff for the educational benefit of our readers but without official approval from the news outlets.  The original articles, with attribution, are also included on this page.  While the translations were made by bilingual staff, thus minimizing the chance for errors, we acknowledge that translations are often subjective and therefore may not always reflect the intent of the author.  

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Published: February 18, 2019

The second presidential debate of the 2019 Election was better than the first debate. Both presidential candidates have touched upon important public issues, despite a lack of details on their campaign programs.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS – The second presidential election debate on Sunday (02/17/2019), showed significant improvement from the first debate. Both presidential candidates touched upon issues that were considered important to the public, even though they were short on details in exploring ideas and offering innovations to answer these problems.

The presidential debate between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto on Sunday evening raised several themes: energy, food, infrastructure, natural resources, and environment.

Vision and Missions on

Infrastructure, Energy and Food, Natural Resources, and Environment

Joko Widodo Prabowo Subianto
Indonesian advancement in the field of energy Guarantee that farmers, ranchers, and fishermen receive sufficient income
Reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of biodiesel Reduce the price of electricity
Head toward the use of B100 biodiesel Reduce the price of staple foods
Continue road construction and irrigation channels in villages Prepare fertilizers and distribute them to farmers
Ensure food supply availability and price stability Guard against Indonesian wealth flowing abroad
No more forests and peatlands fires  
Reduce plastic trash in rivers and seas  

During the debate, the two presidential candidates expressed mutual appreciation to each other. They also touched on many issues that the public wanted to know. In a Kompas R & D poll, February 13-14, 2019, involving 620 respondents in 17 major cities in Indonesia, showed that 51.8 percent of respondents were looking forward to explanation on food issues, particularly related to availability and affordability of food.

Other issues that concerned the public were infrastructure, natural resources, environment and energy.

During the debate, there an explosion was heard in the east parking area of ​​Senayan around 100 meters from where supporters of both candidates were watching the debate through the big screen.

Jakarta Police Chief Inspector General Gatot Eddy Pramono said the source of the noise was a firecracker, not a bomb. There were no casualties in the incident. The explosion also did not disrupt the debate.

Better Flow

Both Jokowi and Prabowo highlighted food security issues during the debate. They spoke about the impacts of the Industry 4.0 on agriculture, fisheries, and farming businesses, many of which are small.


















Comparison of the Candidates’ Ideas


Joko Widodo & Ma’ruf Amin Prabowo Subianto & Sandiaga Uno
Reduce the use of fossil fuels Energy, food, and water self-sufficiency
Continue biofuel-supporting infrastructure development Utilize oil palm for biofuel
Stability of food prices Ensure food availability and affordability
Increase farmers’ productivity to reduce import activities Give sufficient income to farmers and fishermen
Road and irrigation constructions in villages Pay attention to management efficiency in infrastructure development


Joko Widodo & Jusuf Kalla Prabowo Subianto & Hatta Rajasa
Develop mix-system energy Increase oil and gas production
Increase the use of public transportation Energy diversification
Increase productivity using seedlings, fertilizers, and irrigation Ensure food sufficiency and affordability
Provide public markets for farm products Land intensification using compound fertilizer
Infrastructure in poor regions Build 4000 km railroad

Jokowi talked about the importance of human resource development to prepare such businesses in welcoming the next industrial revolution.

Prabowo, on the other hand, said that it would be difficult to overcome the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution if the government could not guarantee farmers’ welfare of and affordable food prices.

In infrastructure, Jokowi conveyed the government’s achievements, such as the construction of toll roads and rural access roads to support regional connectivity.

Meanwhile, Prabowo criticized the infrastructure projects as inefficient, and that they were undertaken without proper studies or any consideration of public interests.

Compared to the first debate, this debate had better flow and was more spontaneous. The flexible debate format and the fact that both candidates have not seen the debate questions resulted in more spontaneous arguments. Both of the candidates also seemed better prepared.

“The lack of any prior knowledge on the debate questions and a more flexible format in the one-on-one open sessions apparently caused changes in the candidates’ strategies and communication styles,” said researcher Arya Fernandes of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, watching the debate at his residence, also said the debate this time appeared more open and relaxed.

Short on details

Economic professor Bustanul Arifin of University of Lampung said that both candidates only offered general descriptions of their food policies. He said Jokowi talked about his administration’s achievements in increasing corn production. However, Jokowi did not talk about rice production.

Meanwhile, Prabowo talked about his vision on food self-sufficiency and providing fertilizer for farmers. However, it was not yet clear how he would provide the fertilizer.

As for the infrastructure sector, Enny Sri Hartati, the Executive Director of the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance, said that she found that the debate on the role of infrastructure development in improving competitiveness and reducing logistics cost was interesting.

“The incumbent said that time and process were needed to change people’s behavior, although the public is waiting for an explanation on how infrastructure development will improve efficiency and competitiveness,” she said.

On the other hand, Enny said that Prabowo mentioned about inclusive infrastructure development, which was considered as a new idea, but that he did not elaborate on it.

Aditya Perdana, the Executive Director of the University of Indonesia’s Center for Political Studies, said that the lack of in-depth exploration of the topics in the second debate was due to too many topics. As a result, there were interesting issues that were not elaborated.

Following the debate, Jokowi-Ma’ruf national campaign team executive, Moeldoko, said, Jokowi offered solutions to the four major debate topics. Meanwhile, Prabowo-Sandi’s national campaign team debate director, Sudirman Said expressed regret over Jokowi’s use of invalid data. (AGE/SAN/APO/NAD/FER/E17/NTA)