Contrary to what his campaign chairman hinted, Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto did not announce his withdrawal from the presidential race during a televised address yesterday evening. He did, however, predict much doom and gloom for the country as he outlined his reasons for wanting to lead the country.
Speaking in front of an audience of his supporters at the Jakarta Convention Center, Prabowo said that, with the way that Indonesia is being governed, we can’t afford to be optimistic that the country will last more than a decade.
“I ask you, is a state that can’t afford to pay its hospital bills, can’t afford to guarantee food for its people, can’t afford to have a strong military, able to last a thousand years? Maybe in 10 years we’ll be half dead.”
The ex-military general then continued his rant about Indonesia’s military, supposedly quoting Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu about the country being practically incapable of defending itself in a hypothetical war.
“The current defense minister even said that, in a war, Indonesia will only last for three days because we only have enough bullets to last three days. This is not us (Prabowo’s campaign) who’s saying this, but the current government,” he said.
There doesn’t seem to be any record in the media of Ryamizard making that statement. A quick fact check investigation by Kompas showed that Ryamizard did post a tweet saying that Indonesia may not last beyond three days in a war, but the reason he gave was not a lack of ammunition but rather a lack of adequate energy reserves. He was also only quoting another tweet from a questionable account.
At any rate, if we’ve learned anything from last night’s address, it’s that, other than not withdrawing from the race, Prabowo’s campaign is likely to continue working from a platform of economic nationalism and, sadly, fear-mongering based on dubious claims.
Prabowo, the only challenger to President Joko Widodo in April’s presidential election, has seen his campaign beset with major PR setbacks, financial difficulties and lagging poll numbers since officially announcing his candidacy (the latest polls have him behind by just over 20 points).
Prabowo and Jokowi are set to go head-to-head in the first of five presidential debates on Thursday. Indonesia is going to the polls on April 17, 2019.