Indonesia Election

We’re about to hire our new president.


It’s no secret that our parents and friends are whispering (and WhatsApp-ing) stories filled with reasons why we should choose candidate X instead of candidate Y.


We might just follow along, but deep down, we didn’t really know if what they’re a hoax or the truth.


As this decision is going to affect our lives for the next 5 year, we did some digging and came up with a short summary.


Disclaimer: We are not politic experts.







Jokowi is all about growth.


He came from a struggling family who fought for a better life. He’s an employee turned a furniture entrepreneur, turned a politician. When promoting his furniture in Europe, he saw how neat European cities are and got inspired to transform his hometown. Eventually, he became the Mayor of Surakarta (2005-2012), Governor of Jakarta (2012-2014), then President of Indonesia (2014-…).


Even after he got elected as president, he still loves blusukan. He comes unannounced to chat with the people and witness the condition in person. Here are some funny stories.


He’s really big on research and development. He issued tax reduction to companies that do research and train their employees. Bukalapak CEO said this is nonsense, our research fund is too little—according to Wikipedia, other countries have much higher research fund. That sparked the viral #uninstallBukalapak movement. Jokowi responded by saying Indonesia already spent much higher fund and the government is currently preparing a huge research institute.   


He develops everything everywhere, from paving highways to building airports, from lowering gas prices in Papua to supporting local brands in Jakarta, especially coffee brands. (He’s a fan of local products, not so much of a fan of sourcing out—see Freeport and rice import)



No wonder, our infrastructure investment has never been this high ($350 billion dollars). That opened lots of jobs—our unemployment rate is nearly as low as ever. Even though he failed to reach his economic growth target (he reached 5% instead of 7%), quoting from Bloomberg Businessweek, “according to some projections, the country’s on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030, behind only China, India, and the US.”





The netizen comments we read (and the media proof we found)


Tax problemo”. During his reign, paying tax just got easier. We don’t need to come to the tax office as we did in the stone age. Simply find someone who uses Windows (instead of Apple), fill in a couple of online forms, and we’re done. It’s as easy as registering for Tinder.

Here comes the part not everyone loves: with everything becoming online, it’s becoming harder for established businesses to “find loopholes” (double financial reports are trouble enough). This means less revenue for businesses.


“Rising debt.” Watch Sri Mulyani explains why is this not a problem:


Anti-Islam”. They said if Jokowi is re-elected, adzan won’t be allowed, hijabs will be banned, and gay marriage will be approved. This is a result of a black campaign. Jokowi is deemed to weaken Islam as he created a rule that banned organizations that is not in line with Pancasila. As a result, Hizbut Tahrir, an organization which promises to strengthen Islamic caliphate, is banned. This is the very same organization that threatens nations, plays “kudeta" games, supports terrorism, and therefore, banned in Muslim Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Libya, and Turkey.

Still in the topic of anti-Islam… If Jokowi truly is anti-Islam, why would he pick Ma’aruf, the head of MUI, as his vice president?


Pencitraaan A.K.A. puppet”. We’re not sure how this started. We assume it’s because of the deliberate way he talks (unlike the fiery way Prabowo talks), the way media follows him around, and the way he appears really close with Megawati, the former president of Indonesia / the head of PDIP, a party which supports Jokowi. FYI, Megawati plays an important role in jumpstarting Jokowi’s career. 







Prabowo was born into a family of elites (his father—a minister of economy, his uncle—a war hero, & his grandfather—the founder of Bank Nasional Indonesia). Growing up, he was raised to be a nationalist, although he’s studying far away from his country. During his studies abroad, he learned to speak in multiple languages, such as English, Germany, French, Dutch, Javanese, Sundanese, and more.


Having lived in foreign lands, he, as the only Asian, understood what it’s like to be a minority. Having siblings who have different religions (Catholic, Protestant, and Kejawen), he’s used to living in diversity.


Just two years after he graduated military school, he was trusted to lead Kopassus team to capture the first prime minister of East Timor.  


Fast forward to 1996, Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata (KKB) took some hostages in demand for  Papua’s liberation from Indonesia. International Red Cross joined in the negation, but then it went sour. What was hoped to be a peaceful exchange turned out to be a tense rescue mission. Prabowo here commanded the rescue of hostages. Long story short, such a success.  (Read the full story here.)


Just a year after that, Prabowo succeeded in leading his KOPASSUS team to climb Everest Mountain, making them the first ever Southeast Asian group to conquer the climb. He’s cool just like that.


That’s not all. These are his other achievements in the military.


Other than the military, he also has contributions to education (he gave a LOT of scholarships)





The netizen comments we read (and the media proof we found)


May 1998”. This bit’s controversial. This document shows that Prabowo takes part in “disappearing” of activists, following the order of President Soeharto (A.K.A. his father in law).

Although many claimed it to be crimes against humanity (he’s banned from entering the United States), Prabowo said that he, being a soldier, merely doing his job, following orders from his boss. An activist, who was freed, described how they tortured him here. Funny thing is, the other 3 activists joined his political party, Gerinda.

In that very same year, Prabowo’s discharged from the military and divorced his wife.


“That 220 mill hectare land in Kalimantan”. At the election debate, Jokowi mentioned about that land (and another 120 mills in Aceh) and said, “pembagian-pembagian seperti ini tidak berlaku di masa pemerintahan saya.

Prabowo admitted that he only own its right to use for business, “Setiap saat negara bisa ambil kembali. Kalau untuk negara, saya rela kembalikan itu semua. Tapi daripada jatuh ke orang asing, lebih baik saya yang kelola karena saya nasionalis dan patriot.”

The land in question (PT Kiani Kertas) is involved in a complicated case involving corruption and debt. The settlement will be continued after the election. Read the full story here.


The statement “Indonesia bubar 2030.” This freaked everyone out. However, it turned out Prabowo quoted a novel, written by an American political scientist. Hear his full explanation here:




GOOD TO KNOW: which conglomerate supports which candidate





Let us quote Najwa here, “No candidate is perfect, but you’re smart enough to know who is perfect for you.”


Here’s our analysis:

- If you’re looking for jobs (esp. startups) in Indonesia, planning to travel around Indonesia (*cough* infrastructure *cough*), wanting to open a local business, Jokowi’s your guy. He’s all about development.

- If you’re a nationalist who can’t think of anything good happening to Indonesia anytime soon, Prabowo’s the man for you. He’s experienced in sour situations and warfare.


May the best candidate win. :)



YOUR VOICE MATTERS. Don’t waste it.


Take a moment to watch the right way to vote:

Written by Helena Natasha.

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