Saturday, December 9, 2023 | 08:35 WIB

The Second Presidential Debate; A REALITY CHECK


IO, Jakarta – The second debate between Presidential Candidates Prabowo Subianto versus Joko Widodo was held on 17 February 2019. The themes of the second debate were energy, food, natural resources, environment, and infrastructure. After the debate, the public discussed and critiqued the various items presented by both candidates. In Jokowi’s case, many of the data items stated in the debate differed from the facts. On the contrary, experts corroborated many of the things Prabowo said.

Sloppy Import Data
The theme of food obtained special attention, because the tendency of food imports during Jokowi-JK rule is to increase rapidly. Khudori, Agricultural Observer from the Indonesian Socio-Political Association, said that corn imports in 2018 were higher than what Jokowi stated, at only 180,000 tons. 2018 data from Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik – “BPS”) shows that the figure was in fact 737,288 tons. However, Khudori stated that the actual figure is even bigger, i.e. corn imports was 1.092 million tons.

What is forgotten is that corn imports decreased at the same time wheat imports for feed increased. For example, in 2015 corn imports were 3.5 million tons, in 2016 decreasing to 1.3 million tons, or nearly 2.2 million tons. At the same time, wheat imports for feed in 2016 increased greatly, to nearly 2.5 million tons. This is because feed companies replaced corn feed with wheat. Therefore, it is incorrect when Jokowi stated that feed imports from 2014 to 2018 were going down, while the trend was actually the opposite.

What the Presidential Candidate Debate failed to expose is that in the future, the population will increase. Therefore, there will be more food needed, and it would be impossible to rely on existing land. We need to both expand farmlands and increase productivity by using technology.

Khudori also criticized how there was no mention of how to ensure that farmers become happy with the business they are in. in advanced countries, farmers are protected by law and given large subsidies. Furthermore, they are guaranteed more land and their welfare is protected. On the contrary, Indonesia only cares about satisfying quantitative targets over commodities such as rice, corn, and soy beans, but the welfare of farmers never even occurs to the Government. Production increases are not followed by any improvement in farmers’ welfare. For example, sugarcane farmers whom Jokowi received at the Palace recently, have been stricken by low sugar prices for 3 years. The prices were lowered by a lawless import policy. They have felt that the farming business did not give them a good life for 3 years. If this goes on, they would give up and plant other commodities instead, causing our sugar production to decrease, which in the end will spike sugar imports again.

Khudori admitted that imports continue to become a problem. The governance needs to be fixed from the top, i.e. from the food production data. The Audit Board (Badan Pemeriksaan Keuangan – “BPK”)’s report on import management from 2015 until Semester I of 2017 shows that our imports are badly controlled.

Jokowi further said that he would expand internet access to the villages, so that agricultural products can be sold off in online market places. Khudori admitted that there is a marketplace for the sale of agricultural products, but the percentage is small. Most of our farmers do not even have access to sufficient electricity, let alone digital communications, let alone the internet. Not to mention leaping towards Industry 4.0: the prices at farmer level remain uncontrolled and farmers are still poor. This is a structural problem, as 73% of our farmers only graduate from Elementary School, dropping out, or never even going to school. The average age of up to a third of our farmers is 54 years, or nearing the end of their productive age. Under this circumstance, how can we get to Industry 2.0 let alone 4.0?

Environmental and Agrarian Conflicts
Meanwhile, Yuyun Harmono, the National Executive Climate Justice Campaign Manager from the Environment Forum of Indonesia (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia “WALHI”) said that neither Jokowi nor Prabowo discussed climate change. This is regrettable, because global climate change is a great concern. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report stated that in 2018, the Earth’s average temperature has increased 1o C from the time before the industrial revolution. This rise in temperature affects millions of people around the world, especially residents of coastal areas and farmers.

Another concern that might worsen climate change is the fact that our largest sources of emission are land-based and energy sectors. Emissions from land-based sectors are mostly the result of expansion of palm coconut plantations, as well as the transformation of the function from productive farmlands to plantations. In the energy sector, the biggest source of emission is coal. The massive change of fuel from petroleum to coal has caused equally massive transformation of the forest function from plant-based production to coal mining.

Our current development relies too much on coal, which is a carbon-based fuel with high emissions. Our development model should refer to the development of a low-carbon model in the future. Low-carbon development can only be achieved when we seriously concentrate on development not based on the exploitation of natural resources such as oil palms or coal. “This is the kind of offer that was not mentioned during the Presidential Candidate Debate. It is regrettable, because it directly affects farmers and fishermen. Farmers are frequently unable to generate optimum harvests, because planting seasons frequently shift due to climate change. Fishermen cannot sail because the pattern of tides have changed due to climate change,” Yuyun said.

Regrettably, both Presidential Candidates still consider palm oil to be a renewable energy alternative, while it is precisely one of the causes of climate change. Making ethanol the source of fuel for replacing diesel fuel would reduce emissions in the energy sector. However, this would increase emissions in land-based sectors, because palm oil cultivation requires a larger land area. If biofuel is increased to B90 or B100, it means that the content of palm coconut in diesel fuel would also increase, in the end meaning increased requirement of land area. This measure would reduce petroleum fuel imports for the short term, but it would cause new problems in the long term. As a tropical country, we have an abundance of solar energy, as well as wind and micro-hydro energy that we can use if we really do have a vision for transitioning from dirty energy (oil, gas and coal) to clean(er) energy.

The Government has won Rp 18-19 trillion in damages from major companies for environmental damage. Law enforcement steps are being taken – but they are mostly administrative steps instead of going to a court of law. In the future, law enforcement should be strengthened, no matter who the president is.

As for agrarian issues, Yuyun said that implementation in Jokowi’s era has not matched expectations. Agrarian reform is not only just distributing land certificates, but it is a basic redistribution of land currently controlled by major entrepreneurs or corporations. This is the object of agrarian reform.

Presidential Candidate Prabowo admitted that he manages several hundred thousand hectares of Right to Exploit (Hak Guna Usaha – “HGU”) land. We think that the land Prabowo manages should be returned to the State and become the object of agrarian reform for the people to manage.

Jokowi stated that there have been no agrarian conflicts, but they actually exist, resulting from land inequality. In order to resolve this issue, proper agrarian reform programs must be executed. Agrarian reform actually has the purpose of reducing land ownership, resolve agrarian conflicts, and ending poverty.

Jokowi stated that there have been no forest fires within the past 3 years. Data that Walhi processed shows that land and forest fires have continued to occur. In fact, during the past 3 years, there were 8,617 hot spots occurring throughout 2018. Of this number, 3,427 of them were located in peat lands.

Dewi Kartika, General Secretary of the Consortium for Agrarian Reform, admits that the development of infrastructure is important for economic growth. However, it causes many unexpected negative impacts. “What is disappointing from Presidential Candidates 01’s response is that he ignored data,” Dewi said. The President said that there were no agrarian conflicts, demolishing, or land damages, that citizens have benefited. In fact, the accumulated total of 1,769 agrarian conflicts in 2015-2018. In 2018 alone, there were 410 agrarian conflicts. “Infrastructure is actually the third top cause of agrarian conflict,” she said.

Jokowi ignored the data and facts suffered by farmers and tribal communities. He did not offer any solution strategies if he wins again. Meanwhile, Presidential Candidates 02 confirmed that he owns the exploitation rights to large-scale plantation business. “Therefore, it’s a major question for us: How can Presidential Candidate 02, who promised agrarian reforms is actually a party that contributes to the inequality itself? Will Candidate 02 actually implement his mission agrarian reforms if he wins?” Dewi asked.

Unicorns of the Future
Djoko Setijowarno, Transportation Observer, concludes that the Presidential Candidate Debate generally lacked focus. For example, in terms of infrastructure, why didn’t Presidential Candidates Prabowo ask to Jokowi about the great lack of transportation in border areas? There are many public transportation programs planned during Jokowi’s Government, but none of them was implemented. The implementation of public transportation programs was better during SBY’s era.

As such, Djoko opines that we need to properly regulate the unicorn companies that affect transportation in Indonesia. “Unicorns” are startups that are valued (having actual assets, not just invested capitals) of more than USD 1 billion. Currently, Indonesia has four digital unicorns: Go-Jek (transportation and delivery company), Tokopedia (digital marketplace), BukaLapak (digital marketplace) and Traveloka (travel company).

In the transportation operation, Go-Jek’s operations have turned towards a more capitalistic exploitation manner, because there are no regulations for protecting its work partners. The app system is not monitored, let alone audited, by the authorities. The Government’s anticipation is very slow and vague. Worse, each relevant ministry and agency go their own way.

“About two years ago, when no shares were owned by foreign companies, Go-Jek partners can earn good bonuses. Online ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers can earn at least Rp 8 million a month, some earning up to Ro 12 million a month. Now they have to work 12 hours a day just to get Rp 4 million a month,” Djoko said. “After some of the shares were sold to foreign companies, naturally they would put profit targets first. They started to neglect the welfare of their partner drivers, who must seek out and transport passengers.”

The Ministry of Transportation has created a Draft Regulation of the Minister of Transportation (Rancangan Peraturan Menteri Perhubungan – “RPM”) that basically regulates safety, service fees, suspension, and partnership. RPM naturally cannot stand alone in the effort to protect both the drivers and users of online ojek. On the contrary, it needs support from the Ministry of Communication and Informatics. This Ministry must be able to issue regulations for monitoring and auditing the apps used by both businesses and users. The Ministry of Labor must also generate regulations that cab regulate partnership relations between app-owning companies and their partners, the online ojek drivers.

Heru Sutadi, an IT from Indonesia ICT Institute, said that funding has always been a major issue for any business startup, whether digital or conventional. The younger generation establishes startups that require time to becoming unicorns, and this requires sufficient funding. However, the problem is that our banking has not adjusted themselves to startups. The Government also hasn’t sought any solution to prevent too many foreign investors from investing in our startups, meaning that these startups are mostly funded by foreign parties.

When foreign companies invest in Indonesia, they would naturally expect bigger returns for their investments, or at least equal. When the startup companies perform IPO in the stock market and generate profit, then the funds that entered Indonesia will be returned to the investor’s country of origin. “Foreign companies love to invest in Indonesian startups because Indonesia has a large market,” Heru said.

It is important for us to face this change. Do we give a 100% entry possibility for foreign countries to enter, or do we want to regulate and set limits? We need to think this over thoroughly. Startups with mostly foreign investors would discover important consumer data in Indonesia. These include products that our consumers prefer, areas of higher consumption, etc. This would make it easier for them to control trade in Indonesia. In the short term, the expansion of our startups using foreign funds seem to be good because it means the entry of foreign funds into our country. For example, Tokopedia is now valued at Rp 50 trillion, Go-Jek at Rp 40 trillion because they have expanded using foreign funds. However, we need to be careful in the long term. That’s because with the use of large amounts of foreign funding, these foreign companies become dominant in our current unicorns. Interestingly, 93% of e-commerce business in Indonesia is dominated by imported products. This is something that we must also resolve. The Government would generate increased economic growth at 1%-1.5% from digital economy, but we must reduce the quantity of imported products sold in our e-commerce by pushing the sales of local products and services, in order to ensure that we earn our income instead of false income that will end up in the hand of foreign countries due to this kind of hidden imports.

Other than investor issues, we also need to pay attention to infrastructure in industry. Jokowi talked about the Palapa Ring, which is an additional infrastructure telecommunication network in Indonesia. However, the Palapa Ring process has taken quite some time. It is now in the second stage. Furthermore, it is actually late, because it should have been completed in 2018. Palapa Ring is actually not the final stage, but there are some things that need to be resolved in the future.

The Palapa Ring network is the communications backbone that connects regency capitals and major municipalities to each other. Well and good, but there must also be a means to connect these cities to villages. This is a task that we need to complete quickly, because the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Indonesia is only 7th among ASEAN countries. It is quite far behind. We need to prepare facilities and infrastructure for connecting high-speed internet to villages, and to maintain and utilize these facilities properly.

Schemes and Strategies
Hendrajit, Executive Director of Global Future Institute (GFI), concluded that development strategies, especially those relating to politics and economy, have continuously turned away from the aspirations of our Proclamation, especially that listed in Article 33 of the 1945 Constitution. “As I see it, the entirety of Prabowo’s discussion – from the start until the closing statement – was the repetition and emphasis of schemes and strategies. Prabowo did not show any discomfort when he responded to the data that Jokowi presented; he maintained his emphasis on different philosophies and strategies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hendrajit observed that Jokowi frequently uses unverified data to serve as facts for supporting his policies in his campaign, including the controversial issue of “Russian propaganda”. “On the other hand, I see that Prabowo’s statement concerning unicorns, which are mostly invested in by foreign companies so that he worries that the money will flow out of the country, that is a fact. I am not talking about the “data”, because data can be attached later. Meanwhile, Jokowi uses data in place of facts. He uses data to support and justify his policy, assuming that everything goes well. Therefore, when the people, including authorities like Greenpeace, give feedback on things like forest fire, water imports, and other economic data, we discover that the data used has not been verified beforehand. This occurred not only during the Debate,” he said.

In other words, there were two contrasting attitudes: one, Prabowo emphasized the need to reorganize the scheme of national development strategies; two, Jokowi emphasized the use of unverified data to defend himself. Jokowi’s personal attack concerning Prabowo’s land ownership opened up Pandora box, in that we discover that 90% of land is owned by foreign companies. “There­fore, Pak Prabowo’s response as closing statement during the debate was “Rather than having foreign companies manage these lands, it would have been better if I do it!” Basically, we need to protect our lands, as many foreign parties control our land. This turned out to be Prabowo’s counter-attack, an opening of the Pandora’s box to show just how bad our land ownership situation is,” he said

Prabowo’s statement about water imports lets out another item from Pandora’s box. We just found out that Indonesia has imported water every year since at least 1989. In fact, in 2017, water imports were 3,168 tons.  The water that is meant in the trade data is all types of water included in HS 2201 Customs Category. According to the explanation on the Customs and Excises official website, the goods classified as “HS 2201” are “Water, including natural or artificial mineral water and soda water, that is not added with sugar or other sweeteners or flavors; ice and snow. For each 1 kg of imported water, Indonesia must pay USD 0.76. The primary source of the water imported to Indonesia is France. In 2017, Indonesia imported 1,294 tons of water from France, or 40% of total water imports.

“As I see it, the unverified raw data assumed as valid supporting fact to defend the work of Jokowi’s Government had the counter-effect of bringing in new data that later becomes new facts, including about water imports, forest fire, food imports, etc. This further confirms that imports are being ideologized as being more important than independence, with various considerations. These include the import mafia and the fundamentals that destroy our economic sovereignty in relation with food imports,” Hendrajit said.

This debate also showed who is the one who cares about national interest and the livelihood of the many, and who lean towards foreigners. The idea that unicorns might cause our money to flow in a rush outside is merely part of Prabowo’s ideas, which he expressed in such a way that the public would understand it. But what is more crucial is not just that the money flows out, but the fact that the majority of unicorns are owned by foreign companies. The danger is that we do not own our own businesses, we are not the sovereign in our own lands. These are facts.

Meanwhile, Jokowi proudly claimed unicorns as his achievement. But even worse, Jokowi acts as if the flow of globalization is normal. This is shown in the substance of the Presidential Candidate Debate’s material. Whatever it might be, it is the disguise for the entry of neo-imperialism: we are being controlled not by the military and weapons, but through political, economic, and even socio-cultural means. With methods like this unicorn, global economy penetrates our country, and might one day grow into our culture.

Prabowo expressed a fact by saying that it is dangerous if unicorns are developed without a national philosophy and national strategy framework based on Article 33 of 1945 Constitution. This will accelerate the outflow of our money to foreign countries, it will allow foreign companies to dictate our people through commerce. Prabowo made the statement during the Presidential Candidate Debate that this was the reason that he wants to offer new strategies and schemes to reorganize national development.

Prabowo stated that half of Indonesia’s wealth is controlled by a mere 1% of rich citizens. When Jokowi attacked Prabowo on land ownership, he unwittingly unearthed the root of the issue: Jokowi’s data cannot differentiate that the land Prabowo controlled is HGU land, not personal ownership. This shows that the data is not factual, and Jokowi was hit hardest when the data is proven to be non-factual.

Rizal Ramli regrets the amount of invalid data in the Second Debate. Jokowi is the active president. However, “In the Second Debate, there was an inordinate amount of careless, incorrect, and manipulative data,” said the senior economist. He then tied in this fact with that Jokowi’s supporters love to accuse the people outside of their circles as hoaxers. “I wonder if it’s karma? Because Jokowi’s supporters simply love to accuse people who have different opinions and critical of them as “hoaxers”. Well, now who’s “the King of Hoaxes”?” he sneered.

Behavior and Gestures
Other than discussing the content of the debate, Bandung Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Bandung – “ITB”) Semiotics Expert Acep Iwan Saidi reviewed the meaning behind the attitude, gestures, and rhetoric used by Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto during their second round of Presidential Candidate Debate. Acep divided his observation into 5 categories.

In “emotions”, Acep stated that Jokowi tended to be emotional, which was why he attacked Prabowo. Examples of these was when he said that Prabowo “lacks optimism” and when he mentioned the “hundreds of thousands of hectares of land” that he controls in East Kalimantan and Aceh. “He was emotional, the tone of his voice frequently raised. He also made personal attacks against Prabowo,” said Acep said in the written statement that he sent to Independent Observer.

On the other hand, Acep concludes that Prabowo’s emotions tend to remain stable. Prabowo did criticize and spoke in a high tone of voice when he spoke about the nation’s condition. However, he was not baited when Jokowi provoked him with personal attacks. Acep said that Prabowo’s emotions also seemed stable when he asked his questions. He stated that the moderator gave Prabowo the opportunity to critique Jokowi several times, as when the moderator asked questions preceded by the description of a problem or issue. “But Prabowo did not make use of the opportunity,” he said.

In terms of “appreciation towards the opponent”, Acep said Jokowi did not appreciate his debate opponent, even once. He even tended to show an underestimating attitude. Acep said Prabowo appreciated some of Jokowi’s achievement so far without hesitation.

In “gestures”, Acep caught a number of meaningful gestures from both Presidential Candidates, especially when the opponent was speaking. Jokowi, Acep said, waved his hand dismissively when Prabowo talked. He thinks that it is not a good thing for a candidate leader to do. “That was an index or indication of underestimation of his dialog partner,” Acep said. Acep said that Jokowi also shook his head whenever Prabowo responded. Acep concludes that this is how Jokowi shows the audience that what Prabowo said was untrue. “I think that’s also disrespectful and underestimating of Pak Prabowo. I think that’s how I want to categorize it,” he said.

Still in the same category, i.e. “gestures”, Acep said that Prabowo did not pay attention to what Jokowi was saying several times. Prabowo looked at the audience and smiled in these cases. Acep concluded that Prabowo thought that Jokowi was evading the issue. Prabowo frequently moved or lifted his hands up when he spoke. Acep concluded that Prabowo was attempting to convince the audience that he was telling the truth. “That was an index or indication of confidence, and of persuading that what he was saying was true and important,” he said.

In “rhetoric”, Acep stated that Jokowi tended to use the debate for bringing down his opponent. His explanations on program development also tended to be more technical. Meanwhile, Prabowo tended to become repetitive or to reduce what he was saying, for example about the fact that very few people control such a large amount of wealth, and that money flows hard to other countries.

The Second Debate contains various data and facts presented by both Presidential Candidates, including Jokowi’s personal attack towards Prabowo. The public made the conclusion that Prabowo talked about the people, while Jokowi talked about Prabowo. Do you agree? (Dessy Aipipidely, Ekawati)



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