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The VP Candidates’ Battle of Ideas

April 3, 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: March 18, 2019

The vice-presidential candidate debate between Ma’ruf Amin and Sandiaga Uno presented some quality in terms of their ideas. In the midst of the “calm” debate, each candidate explained current problems and ideas explicitly.

From their debate performance on Sunday (3/17/2019), both VP candidates, Ma’ruf Amin and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, did not really attack each other directly, except on the last session. However, battles of ideas between them took place almost in the whole debate.

Ma’ruf Amin expressed statements based on Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla’s achievements and policies, while Sandiaga Uno targeted loopholes of the current administration’s policy elements.

There were 17 data-based statements that Ma’ruf presented, while Sandi delivered 32 statements. Statements that contained criticism or attack were comparable, which were seven statements for each the candidate.

Human development

Ma’ruf’s main focus was education. He is determined to build a healthy, productive, intelligent, and noble Indonesian society.

Ma’ruf explained a number of efforts, including scholarships to college and increasing the use of research findings in universities. He emphasized the strengthening of the Kartu Indonesia Pintar Kuliah (Indonesia Smart College Card), Kartu Sembako Murah (Affordable Staple Food Card), dan Kartu Prakerja (Pre-Employment Card).

On the other hand, Sandi stated that education of entrepreneurship is the key to expand the job market. He is committed to increasing nonpermanent teachers’ welfare, improving the education curriculum, emphasizing complete education with quality, and abolishing national exam and replacing it with talent and interest assessment.

In the health sector, Ma’ruf highlighted the importance of first-rate health services starting from primary levels to hospitals. A number of programs to improve health services include continuing the Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (National Health Insurance), Program Keluarga Harapan (Family Hope Program), redistributing medical personnel, establishing healthy community movements, and reducing the number of people affected by diseases.

As for Sandi, he pointed to a number of policy loopholes, such as increasing the treatment facilities, quick access to health services, reducing expensive health costs including medicine, paying medical personnel on time, and creating a 22-minute every day exercise program. Those programs are considered lack of implementation.

The demographic dividend  

Indonesia is projected to achieve its demographic dividend in 2020-2024. This means, any elected running mates elected in the 2019 election will face a challenge of turning the demographic dividend into economic dividend.

Ma’ruf saw the demographic dividend as an opportunity to encourage mastery of digital technology especially for young people in every land, air, sea, and even “sky” infrastructure. Meanwhile, Sandi considered the demographic dividend as an opportunity to expand entrepreneurship, such as the OK-OCE program that he initiated during his time as the deputy governor of DKI Jakarta.

Campaign Platforms

Ma’ruf Amin

Sandiaga S. Uno


  • National Health Insurance and Family Hope program.
  • Comprehensive and affordable health centers.
  • Healthy Community Movement and Healthy Indonesia programs.
  • Maternal and Child Health programs including giving staple food, sanitation, water, and breast milk to reduce stunting.
  • Resolving the root problems of the National Health Insurance in the first 200-day.
  • Promotional and preventive programs, including 22-minute exercise/day and giving healthy snack for kindergarten students.
  • Improving health services.
  • Indonesia Emas (Indonesia Gold) and Sedekah Putih (White Alms) programs to provide nutritional intake for pregnant women.


  • Giving scholarships and Kartu Indonesia Pintar (Indonesia Smart Card) until college.
  • Forming National Research Body and national research master plan.
  • Providing endowment research plan.
  • Developing research between business and industrial sectors.
  • Regional education scale and basic education data to measure the effectiveness of the use of the education budget in the regions.
  • Improving teachers’ welfare.
  • Curriculum focusing on character-building.
  • Replacing the national exam system talent and interest assessment program.
  • Increasing the research funding and technology, along with research funding collaboration with the business sector.
  • Consolidating academics, businesses, and the government so that research can be implemented.


  • Pre-Employment Card and giving incentives in the early days of work.
  • Revitalization of SMK (Vocational Schools), polytechnics, academies, and developing cyber universities.
  • Job training centers as free practice sites toward entrepreneurship.
  • Mastery of digital technology.
  • Developing 3500 start-ups.
  • Link and match between the world of education and work.
  • OK OCE program for 2-million new entrepreneurs
  • Rumah Siap Kerja (Ready-to-Work Houses) that provide integrated services for job seekers.
  • MSMEs as the solution to provide jobs.
  • Accessibility to licensing and capital.


  • Kartu Sembako Murah (Affordable Staple Food Card) program.
  • Providing cultural endowment.
  • Cultural advancement strategy through cultural conservation and globalization.
  • Maximizing the Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy’s functions.
  • Developing local wisdoms in order to build values, identity, and tolerance.
  • Culture of diversity and tolerance.
  • Government partnership between businesses, academics, and social organizations to enhance cultural values.
  • Increasing budget and authority.
  • Balancing human and cultural development.

The number of jobs and high unemployment are also both VP candidates’ concerns. Ma’ruf proposed a Kartu Prakerja (Pre-Employment Card), easy financial access such as small business loans, and digital infrastructure for young people as solutions to unemployment.

On the other hand, Sandi proposed to open 2-million businesses, ready-to-work home programs, creating jobs for young people, and is determined to cut unemployment.

The two VP candidates discussed social and cultural issues with slightly different approaches. Ma’ruf emphasized the Nawacita (Jokowi’s 2014 election platforms) paradigm through cultural preservation, increasing local wisdom and cultural budgets, arranging cultural endowment, and encouraging the Creative Economy Agency to promote culture.

Sandi proposed several strategies, including initiating partnership between businesses, academics, and universities, which will direct cultural interests and boost cultural tourism and eventually will create more jobs.

Regarding the future of the millennial generation, Ma’ruf Amin delivered a number of strategies to anticipate the progress of the times and global challenges, such as the Industri 4.0. Those strategies will be carried out by building start-ups and digital infrastructure.

Sandi prepared a number of things to prepare the millennial generation to welcome Industry 4.0. His programs include micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as promoting ready-to-work home programs for the millennial generation.

Duration of the debate

From the six segments of the debate, Kompas R&D’s content analysis showed variation in both candidates’ time allocation. In the first segment, where both candidates delivered their platforms, both of them seemed to use their time optimally. Ma’ruf spent 4 minutes and 1 second, while Sandi spent 3 minutes and 55 seconds.

In the second segment, where both candidates answered questions from the moderator, Amin spent 6 minutes 8 seconds, while Sandi spent 7 minutes and 2 seconds. In the third segment – Q&A from the panelists –, Ma’ruf spent 7 minutes 12 seconds, while Sandi spent 7 minutes 4 seconds.

In the fourth segment, which was an open and explorative debate, Amin spent 7 minute 38 seconds, while Sandi spent 8 minutes 22 seconds. In the firth segment, in a form of an inspirational debate, Ma’ruf spent 7 minutes 3 seconds, while Sandi spent 7 minutes 21 seconds. And in the last segment, both Amin and Sandi spent 4 minutes.

In the fourth segment in the form of an open or explorative debate, Amin uses 7 minutes 38 seconds, while Sandiaga Uno uses 8 minutes 22 seconds. In the fifth segment in the form of inspirational debates, there are differences in the time allocation that is used by Ma’ruf and Sandi.

This third round of debate discussed fundamental issues for the Indonesian people. The ideas conveyed during the debate are expected to not end up merely as discourse or only to increase voter turnout. However, both VP candidates should be able to answer the future challenges, and that is to build society and the next generation with quality. (TOPAN YUNIARTO / LITBANG KOMPAS)