June 19, 2009 / 5:02 AM / 9 years ago

HIGHLIGHTS - Indonesia's presidential debate and reaction

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his rivals former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice President Jusuf Kalla addressed rule of law, rights and governance in a TV debate on Thursday night.

Indonesian presidential candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri (L), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (C), who is seeking re-election this year, and Vice President and presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla take part in the presidential candidate debate in Jakarta June 18, 2009. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Yudhoyono, known by his initials SBY, is ahead in the opinion polls in the run-up to the July 8 presidential election.

Here are some highlights from the debate, and reaction from members of the public.


“The issue of supremacy of law, if not correctly applied, will mean injustice for the people, anarchy, corruption and drug abuse. If the investment climate also is unclear, jungle law will take its place and the result is that it will be difficult for us to co-operate with neighbouring countries or we will lose out to competing countries that do have a better legal system.”

“The application of the law has to be fair and transparent.”

“We need to raise awareness among people not to pay petty bribes or unauthorised fees. We need more online systems for things like identity cards and drivers licences because they can be checked, people can see what is normal and what is not.”


“We need to educate people, including foreign domestic workers, so they understand their rights.”

“Even to organise an identity card is still very hard and you sometimes have to pay extra fees. We need to create laws that are concrete and do not discriminate between people.”


“In all our governmental duties, we need to set clear goals, targets and deadlines.”

“We must remember what (Nelson) Mandela said, forgive but don’t forget. We should have reconciliation of these human rights problems in our past. We should look to the past but see it as a lesson so it doesn’t happen again.”


Taufik Syamsuddin, stall owner in Banda Aceh, Aceh:

“It was boring. I am really disappointed by their responses to the human rights questions. I think human rights is a really important issue but I am sure none of the candidates would do anything different. They are all scared to take up human rights as an election issue and are protecting the military.”

Zuriati Gade, a retired teacher in Banda Aceh, Aceh:

“I am glad they now have presidential debates on TV. This is an excellent development in Indonesian politics. I was attracted by what Kalla said but as an Acehnese, I feel I can’t accept him while he has [ex-general] Wiranto as his vice presidential running mate. I still remember when, as a general, he brought his troops here to Aceh.”

Indrawadi, university lecturer in Padang, Sumatra:

“Actually, I idolised SBY but after watching the three candidates debate I think I will switch. SBY was full of rhetoric. This nation doesn’t need someone full of rhetoric but action. Now I like Kalla.”

Novrianto, stall-owner in Padang, Sumatra:

“There’s no question, it’s definitely Kalla we love. He seems passionate and not wooden.”

Agus, parking valet in Yogyakarta, Java:

“For me, I will stick with Megawati. Her speech was clearer and she doesn’t use difficult language. The others, like Jusuf Kalla, had no substance to their speech.”

Sudarnomo, civil servant in Yogyakarta, Java:

“For me, the one who really touched on the issues better was SBY. Megawati always thinks like she is in the past and she cannot think quickly. Kalla was just copying the others, especially SBY’s ideas.”

Kadek Didi Suprapta, a hotel IT worker in Denpasar, Bali:

“After watching the show, I would say SBY is my choice. He was the most realistic. Megawati was too general, as usual. In the past, I always voted for PDI-P (Megawati’s party) but now the choice of president isn’t too influenced by the party. It’s more about the personality.”

Tuswati, a spa owner in Surabaya, Java:

“I was very disappointed with Megawati. She is always talking about the past. Actually, I wish Prabowo (Prabowo Subianto, Megawati’s vice presidential candidate) was up there on stage. The debate changed my view. I think I will just abstain.

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