President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, left, and Prabowo Subianto, right, traded blows on land reform policies during the second presidential debate on Sunday evening. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jokowi Knocks Prabowo on His Extensive Land Ownership During Second Presidential Debate


FEBRUARY 17, 2019

Updated at 1.20 a.m. on Monday to include a tweet by Sidney Jones, director of the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict

Jakarta. Sunday evening's second presidential debate was a slightly livelier affair, which saw the two candidates trading blows on land reform policies.


Jokowi Punch Prabowo Hard on Land He Owns in Second Live Election Debate

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said his priority was to distribute land to indigenous communities, smallholder farmers and grant concessions for social forestry operations.

He said his government granted concession on 2.6 million hectares for that purpose in 2017, and assisted smallholder farmers and communities to obtain land and make it productive.

"Yes, it is planted with coffee and fruit. Many of them plant a lot of corn. It means that they are not only given land concessions, but they are also assisted to ensure that the land is productive," Jokowi said.

Over the past two years, the government also issued land ownership certificates for a total of 12 million hectares to people to ensure that small communities have legal title to the land they occupy. The people can use these certificates as collateral to apply for bank loans, the president said

"So, once they have legal title, they can access financing. This is the importance of redistributing assets under our agrarian reforms, which will continue," Jokowi said, adding that the 12.7 million hectares that must be redistributed should not go to existing large landowners.

However, presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto criticized this approach, saying that if all the land was distributed now, there would be nothing left for future generations.

In response, Jokowi said: "We do not just give the land to the big corporations. I know Mr. Prabowo has large landholdings in East Kalimantan – 220,000 hectares – and in Central Aceh – 120,000 hectares. I only want to say that this kind of distribution was not done during my administration."

Prabowo conceded that he has cultivation rights over the land but said he was willing to return it to the state.

"Instead of foreigners managing the land, it's better that I manage it. Because I am an Indonesian, a nationalist and a patriot," he said.

"Prabowo defines the problem as a growing population and not enough land, Jokowi gets in a dig at how much land Prabowo owns in Kalimantan and Aceh," Sidney Jones, director of the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict, said on her private Twitter account shortly after the debate.