Prabowo Subianto says he has picked 'the best' for his Cabinet

Mr Prabowo Subianto's supporters heading to a rally yesterday in Surabaya. "Padi" is an abbreviation of Mr Prabowo's name and that of his running mate, Mr Sandiaga Uno; "nusantara" means archipelago. ST PHOTO: LINDA YULISMAN
Mr Prabowo Subianto's supporters heading to a rally yesterday in Surabaya. "Padi" is an abbreviation of Mr Prabowo's name and that of his running mate, Mr Sandiaga Uno; "nusantara" means archipelago. ST PHOTO: LINDA YULISMAN

Indonesian presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto yesterday told a rally that he has picked the "best and the brightest" for his Cabinet if he wins next Wednesday's election.

He said he had a list of more than 60 names, which included former ministers Sudirman Said and Rizal Ramli, retired armed forces chief Gatot Nurmantyo, former anti-graft commission deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto and human rights activist Natalius Pigai.

Mr Prabowo told the rally in Surabaya that he wanted to ensure that his Cabinet was capable of serving the people and overcoming the daunting challenges facing the world's fourth most populous nation, which is home to 260 million people.

"There's no single effort that can be achieved by just one, two or three persons," he said, adding that only a team could transform concepts into reality.

In an election where economic issues are the predominant concern, the retired army general promised an inward-looking orientation for the economy, particularly in manufacturing.

He told the hundreds of supporters gathered at the Dyandra Convention Centre that, once funds were available, he would build hundreds of new factories to produce a wide range of made-in-Indonesia products such as glasses, watches, cars, ships and even aircraft.

He also said he would call back bright Indonesians working overseas to return home and serve the country.

 
 

"We must become a productive nation," Mr Prabowo said.

Citing neighbouring Malaysia as a model, he said its visionary leadership has resulted in its ability to manufacture its own cars.

The 67-year-old candidate dismissed charges from the opposing camp over his "pessimistic" view of Indonesia's future, insisting that he had high hopes for the economy despite his strong criticism of the current situation.

"It's not true that we are pessimistic. Perhaps they are satisfied with 5 per cent growth, but we aren't. We want double-digit growth," he said, comparing his position to that held by his rival, President Joko Widodo, who is seeking re-election.

Mr Prabowo also listed five challenges that he and his appointed officials would try to overcome if elected, such as the outflow of Indonesian wealth.

"Indonesian wealth does not stay at home. This is our biggest challenge. The next government must be able to stop the outflow," he said.

The other challenges included narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, and attaining self-sufficiency in food, energy and water.

Surabaya, which is Indonesia's second-largest city after Jakarta, is the capital of East Java province.

In the last presidential poll in 2014, Mr Joko defeated Mr Prabowo in East Java by garnering around 53 per cent of the vote, similar to what he secured at the national level.

A survey by the Surabaya Survey Centre in December last year showed that the incumbent remained the favourite to win again in the province which, with 30.9 million voters, has the second-highest number of voters nationwide after West Java.

Mr Joko, 57 - whose running mate is the prominent conservative cleric Ma'ruf Amin, 76 - led in the opinion poll, securing 55.9 per cent. Mr Prabowo, who is paired up with former investment banker Sandiaga Uno, 49, scored 32.1 per cent.

 
 

But the dynamics may have changed since then, as the campaign has been intensifying in the past few months.

Mr Prabowo told his supporters yesterday that, based on the information delivered to him, he was leading in the province.

"We still have a few more days. Hopefully, we will be much higher ahead (of our rival)," he told the rally.

Most surveys still predict that Mr Joko and Dr Ma'ruf are likely to come out on top in the election on April 17, even though Mr Prabowo and Mr Sandiaga have narrowed the gap between them.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2019, with the headline 'Prabowo says he has picked 'the best' for his Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe