Sandiaga Uno and his wife Nur Asia arrive at the venue of presidential final debate in Jakarta on Saturday. (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Sandiaga's Women Finally Get Under Jokowi's Skin


APRIL 13, 2019

Jakarta. One thing vice-presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno loves to do during presidential debates, is relate anecdotes of the moms he has met on his campaign trail.

During the third debate, there was Lisa, who lost her medical coverage. And in Saturday night's fifth and final debate, Prabowo Subianto's running mate mentioned Nurjanah of Langkat in North Sumatra, who complained to him about losing customers at her shop, and Mia of Tegal, Central Java, who struggles to pay her electricity bills. 

While the names were seemingly random, their stories highlight the candidate pair's populist economic rhetoric and underlying weakness in the programs of the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Jokowi was apparently growing tired of hearing these stories, and after hearing more during Saturday's debate, he immediately snapped at Sandiaga. 

"These are macroeconomics, not microeconomics, which can be established in one go. It can't be like you said of this mom, or that mom," the president said.

The opposition has been criticizing Jokowi for failing to deliver on his promise of at least 7 percent annual growth in the country's gross domestic product. Indonesia has been expanding at just above 5 percent annually during the Jokowi presidency – a respectable rate, considering lackluster growth in the global economy. 

The president also managed to keep inflation at a record low of around 3 percent and reduce unemployment and the poverty level. 

Prabowo and Sandiaga, on the other hand, are offering a populist program that involves lower prices for essentials, such as rice, meat and electricity, while at the same time curbing imports and reducing the burden on individual taxpayers.

However, drawing from his experience, Jokowi warned his rival of the complexities in the policy realm. Balancing the interests of producers, such as farmers and fishermen, with the demands of consumers may result in policies that are less than ideal for both, he said.

"What is called macroeconomics is an aggregate of the production and demand side... This is the country's economy," Jokowi told Sandiaga. 

"It is impossible for us to carry out a policy based solely on one, two or three people who submit complaints to you.

"And you convey these stories over and over again.

"I don't think that is the way to manage the macroeconomy. In my experience, it just can't be like that."