Prabowo spokesman hits out at 'lavish' meeting amid disasters

Prabowo Subianto gestures as he departs after registering himself as a candidate for the 2019 presidential election in Jakarta, on Aug 10, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA • A spokesman for the presidential campaign of Mr Prabowo Subianto said the IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali is an embarrassment for Indonesia as it has a more urgent need to fund the redevelopment of post-quake areas in Lombok and Central Sulawesi.

Mr Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak told reporters last Friday, at Mr Prabowo's house, that the budget for the meetings, which he said would cost the government one trillion rupiah (S$91 million), should be diverted to help these two areas to recover.

"This is really unsettling for the (Prabowo) coalition and it is embarrassing. Why? Because in the midst of a disaster, we party in Bali," said Mr Dahnil, as quoted by Tempo news site last Saturday.

The annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank will start tomorrow and end on Sunday. It will be attended by about 32,000 people, including finance ministers and central bankers from 180 nations.

Mr Prabowo and his vice-presidential mate Sandiaga Uno are contesting in next April's presidential election against President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin.

Mr Dahnil described the amount being spent to hold the meeting as "lavish", and argued that it does not contribute to Indonesia's economic development, Tempo reported, as it is being held at a time when the Indonesian currency is being battered.

Lombok island, in West Nusa Tenggara province next to Bali, was hit by a series of earthquakes in July and August, including a magnitude-6.9 quake on Aug 5, killing more than 500 people and leaving tens of thousands without homes.

The Palu city-Donggala region in Central Sulawesi was hit by a magnitude-7.4 quake and a tsunami on Sept 28, leaving more than 1,700 dead, dozens still missing and some 70,000 homeless.

Mr Fuad Bawazier, an advisory board member of Mr Prabowo's Gerindra Party, said his coalition planned to issue a suggestion to stop the financial meeting and distribute the funds saved to help victims of the disasters. The former finance minister said it is unethical for Indonesia to hold a "luxury event" amid these disasters, Tempo said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2018, with the headline Prabowo spokesman hits out at 'lavish' meeting amid disasters. Subscribe