On Sunday evening (22/06), the third debate between the two presidential candidates of Indonesia - Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto - took place and was broadcast live on national television by various stations. Through these debates the presidential candidates are able to outline their vision while trying to increase their popularity among the Indonesian electorate (on 9 July 2014 the Indonesian people will vote for their new leader). The theme of this third debate was ‘international politics and national security’.
Contrary to the first two debates in which Jokowi wore a modern (western) black suit with a red tie, this time he chose a traditional batik shirt, in a possible attempt to stress his nationalistic piety. Particularly Subianto has been the one to focus on uttering protectionist and nationalistic ambitions as this is regarded an important vote earner. Subianto basically takes every opportunity to demonstrate his nationalistic rhetoric by including in his answers, whatever the topic of the question may be, that Indonesia has to safeguard its natural resources and not let this wealth be exploited and flow to foreign countries. As such, Jokowi cannot ignore this strategy (due to the risk of losing out on votes) and has thus also shifted to a more nationalistic tone, both in speech and clothes.
Subianto’s main point is that through this protectionist strategy, Indonesia will become a wealthier nation. And when Indonesia has become a wealthy nation, then many of the problems that are currently being faced will be solved, not only domestic issues but it will also have a positive impact on the country’s international standing because - if Indonesia manages to become a prosperous country - it will automatically become a stronger and more respectable global player.
Although there is some truth in Subianto's words, he obviously does not want to mention the high degree of inequality in Indonesian society regarding income distribution and instead only focuses on the wealth (natural resources) that is exploited by foreigners. With the 40 richest Indonesians (out a total population of 250 million people) owning more than 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, there exists huge inequality in Indonesia. So, it is highly questionable whether the Indonesian people (as a whole) will benefit of reduced foreign presence in the country’s natural resources. More likely, it will only benefit the small Indonesian elite.
Both candidates agreed in the debate that Indonesia should play an important role on the international map by helping to solve international disputes (through diplomacy), safeguarding good international relations, but more importantly by becoming a strong global player which can protect and stand up for its own people (for example the issue of illegal fishery in Indonesian territorial waters).
On the topic of Indonesian workers employed abroad (abbreviated TKI), both candidates agreed that they need more protection. Jokowi wants more monitoring on these workers to check on their safety as there have been many cases of abused Indonesian workers abroad (most TKIs are Indonesian women who work as cleaning ladies in the Middle East and Malaysia). Increased monitoring implies a larger role for Indonesian embassies abroad. For Subianto, the TKI-problem is caused by local poverty and a lack of domestic job availability, forcing the workers to go to other countries to find a living. As such, Subianto stressed the need for domestic economic development (in combination with education) in order to provide employment opportunities and to give the workers more skills.
It is also interesting to note that Jokowi stated that he supports an independent Palestinian state and would like to see a stronger naval power as well as the modernization of the country’s defensive capabilities.
The debate was held in the Holiday Inn in Kemayoran (Central Jakarta) and was moderated by Hikmahanto Juwana (professor of law at the University of Indonesia).