Prabowo trips over 'unicorns' in debate

JAKARTA • Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto faltered during a televised debate ahead of upcoming elections when his opponent, incumbent President Joko Widodo, used tech jargon in a question.

Mr Joko had asked Mr Prabowo what he would do to support unicorns, a term for start-ups valued at more than US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion), in the second presidential debate on Sunday night.

"What do you mean by unicorns? Those online things?" Mr Prabowo, a US-educated former general, asked before engaging in nationalist rhetoric about capital flight. "If we're not careful, the enthusiasm for Internet things, e-commerce and other e-things, will speed up the flight of domestic money to other countries."

Sunday's debate focused on infrastructure, the environment and natural resources, but neither candidate talked about climate change.

The April 17 presidential election will be a repeat of the 2014 vote, when Mr Joko narrowly defeated Mr Prabowo after a divisive campaign period.

During the debate, Mr Joko touted his government's success in overcoming forest fires, which produce smog that often affects neighbouring countries Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

"We don't want forest fires to happen again," he said. "Over the past three years, there have been no forest and peat fires," he added.


But environmental campaigner Greenpeace disputed the Indonesian leader's claim.

"The fact is since the tragic forest fires of 2015, forest and agricultural fires have happened every year," Greenpeace said on Twitter.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2019, with the headline 'Prabowo trips over 'unicorns' in debate'. Print Edition | Subscribe