Prabowo vows to clean up govt to draw businesses to Indonesia

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto with The Economist executive and diplomatic editor Daniel Franklin.
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto with The Economist executive and diplomatic editor Daniel Franklin.PHOTO: THE ECONOMIST

Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has vowed to push reforms for a clean, non-corrupt government to attract businesses.

The "rampant and massive corruption" in the country is "like cancer that has reached Stage 4", he told business leaders at The Economist's The World in 2019 gala dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Singapore on Tuesday.

"If I am elected, my driving concern and my driving passion will be to create a rational, modern, democratic and clean bureaucracy, a clean government, and I think this is the best environment for business," he said.

Mr Prabowo will challenge President Joko Widodo in the presidential election in April for the second time, having been defeated in the 2014 polls.

The 67-year-old chairman of Indonesia's Gerindra Party and his running mate, Mr Sandiaga Uno, have made the economy the focus of their campaign.

In a keynote interview with Mr Daniel Franklin, the Economist's executive and diplomatic editor, the retired general reiterated the importance of good governance to ensure stability and a clean, meritocratic society, which he said is essential for development and progress in the country.

Having grown up in Singapore, Mr Prabowo praised Singapore's leaders in assuring fair treatment and upholding the rule of law.

The late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his cohort, he noted, had done "a very good job. They cleaned up Singapore and they have made Singapore a success story".

He is also inspired by the reforms in Malaysia and hopes Indonesian voters can emulate what happened in Malaysia, where the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition government was defeated in May by the Pakatan Harapan alliance, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"We can have a peaceful change. The will of the people of Indonesia will be heard and democracy will prove successful," he said.

While in Singapore, Mr Prabowo also met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday and discussed how the two countries could strengthen their strong ties and take their relationship forward.

Mr Prabowo returned to Indonesia yesterday.

Aside from Mr Prabowo, Ms Nurul Izzah, Malaysian politician and daughter of the country's prime minister-in-waiting, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; and ride-hailing firm Grab co-founder Anthony Tan also spoke at the event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'Prabowo vows to clean up govt to draw businesses to Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe