Indonesia presidential race heats up amid rallies

JAKARTA • Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (picture) called for change in a rally yesterday, talking down the government’s economic performance as competition heats up ahead of an election this week.

Indonesia goes to the polls on April 17 in a contest that pits incumbent Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, against the contender with the economy being the focal point in the race. Jokowi was expected to speak later in the day at South Tangerang in the province of Banten.

Prabowo, a former general who Jokowi beat in the 2014 election, told a rally at a stadium in Jakarta that Indonesia’s “wealth is robbed continuously, taken and sent abroad”, and that the leakage would cost the country 10,000 trillion rupiah (RM2.9 trillion) over the next five years.

“Indonesian people are fed up, want improvement, want change,” Prabowo said. He put the number of people at the rally at “more than a million”, although that figure could not be verified.

The latest polls have Jokowi on track to win, with a Roy Morgan survey on April 3 putting support for him at 56.6%. Still, Prabowo has closed the gap in recent weeks on the back of a promise to lower prices and to get “a better deal” in trade with China. Some surveys have estimated about 10% of voters remain undecided.

South-East Asia’s biggest economy has been growing at about 5%, below the 7% targeted by Jokowi when he came to office in 2014. — Bloomberg