Thousands of Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's supporters attend the first public campaign rally of this year's presidential election in Serang, Banten, on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

Public Campaigning for 2019 Presidential Election Kicks Off

BY :AHMAD SALMAN AND MARKUS JUNIANTO & HOTMAN SIREGAR

MARCH 25, 2019

Jakarta. The public campaign period for the 2019 presidential election kicked off on Sunday with visits to various locations by the two candidates, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Prabowo Subianto.

The campaign period, determined by the General Elections Commission (KPU), will end with the final presidential debate on April 13.

Jokowi kicked off his campaign in Serang, Banten, on Sunday, while his rival visited Manado, North Sulawesi, and Makassar, South Sulawesi. Jokowi's running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, was also in Banten but in a separate location, while Prabowo's running mate, Sandiaga Uno, visited Solo in Central Java.

Jokowi Campaign

Campaigning in his running mate's hometown, Jokowi called on his supporters to oppose fake news and political hoaxes targeting the candidate pair that have been spread door-to-door and on social media.

He said at least four false rumors have been doing the rounds, which falsely claim that religious subjects will be removed from the school curriculum, the azan, or Islamic call to prayer will be banned and same-sex marriage and extramarital sex will be legalized if he is re-elected.

"We must all be brave; do not allow our unity, our brotherhood to be broken because of slander and hoaxes," Jokowi told thousands of his supporters, as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.

"Don't keep silent. If we are silent, [fake] news like that will be accepted as fact. So we must respond, fight against and correct it," he added.

Jokowi told his supporters in Yogyakarta a day earlier that he would fight back against those who slander and insult him.

"Over the past four-and-half years, I was silent. But today in Yogya, I want to tell you that I will fight back," Jokowi told the crowd after university alumni in the city pledged support for his candidacy in the April 17 election.

President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo greeting supporters in Banten on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo greeting supporters in Banten on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

During his campaign in Serang on Sunday, Jokowi also called on his supporters to be happy and not fear the democratic process.

This is reflected in the fact that the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign team appears to makes a concerted effort to create a carnival atmosphere at all the candidates' public appearances.

However, the incumbent president admitted that his camp still had to work hard in the province to attract more support, considering that his rival won most of the votes in the province in the 2014 presidential election. But he expressed optimism that his camp would gain more support than his opponent.

Prabowo Campaign

Prabowo chose his late mother's hometown to start his public campaign in this year's presidential election.

In his speech in Manado, the former Army general promised to provide jobs and ensure people's prosperity if he is elected. He criticized the high cost of basic needs, electricity and fuel, while also promising to address this.

"We want Indonesia to be victorious, just and prosperous, so our people can enjoy the prosperity ... eradicate and fight poverty. We won't let people starve, unable to get proper jobs … having to pay prices that are too high for all of us," Prabowo told the crowd.

Prabowo Subianto, center, greets thousands of supporters in Makassar on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Abriawan Abhe)
Prabowo Subianto, center, greets thousands of supporters in Makassar on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Abriawan Abhe)

From Manado, Prabowo traveled to Makassar, where he confidently called on the people to change the country's leadership.

"The people need the change; they understand that there is a lot of corruption in the country. By the grace of God, once our coalition receives a mandate from the people, we will form a government that is free of corruption," Prabowo said. He criticized the current government's policies, particularly on the imports of some commodities, such as salt.

He said the people no longer trusted the current government and that they can no longer be manipulated by state officials and politicians.

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