APSN Banner

Indonesia presidential candidate Prabowo greeted with excitement in stronghold West Java

Straits Times - January 28, 2024

Linda Yulisman, Subang, West Java – From as early as 6am on Jan 27, supporters of presidential frontrunner Prabowo Subianto started pouring into a park in Subang regency, West Java province.

Thousands of excited people, pumped up by the loud, booming music, cheered and chanted Mr Prabowo's name as he stepped out of a white Toyota Alphard at 9.20am (10.20am Singapore time).

Clad in a blue shirt and wearing a navy blue cap, he made his way to the campaign rally stage, while supporters rushed to touch his hands, or snap pictures on their mobile phones.

The fervent reaction from the crowd, many also clad in blue, the colour that to Mr Prabowo symbolises peace, was testament to the presidential candidate's popularity in his stronghold of West Java.

Indonesia's largest province, which has some 35.7 million voters, representing 17 per cent of the overall vote, was one of the few that he won over incumbent President Joko Widodo in the 2019 polls. It is also where he hopes to beat his rivals, Mr Anies Baswedan and Mr Ganjar Pranowo, in the upcoming Feb 14 elections, which are also for legislators and councillors at the national and regional level.

Latest opinion polls showed Mr Prabowo, 72, and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the 36-year-old Solo Mayor and elder son of Mr Widodo, pulling far in front of their rivals in West Java. His campaign team expects him to secure more than 50 per cent of the votes there.

Subang farmer Cahyono, 35, rode on a pickup truck with 20 others from his neighbourhood to arrive at the park at 7am. A long-time Prabowo supporter, he told The Straits Times: "I am 99 per cent sure he will absolutely win in just one round."

If Mr Prabowo can garner more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first round, he will win without needing a run-off vote.

"I believe if he is elected, he can help farmers like me to get subsidised fertiliser," said Mr Cahyono. The father of three also hoped Mr Prabowo would repair the roads in the region, so farmers can transport and sell their agricultural produce directly to nearby cities, instead of relying on middlemen.

Housewife Dede Widaningsih, 48, who left early in the morning with her friends to get to the venue, viewed Mr Prabowo as a leader with "fighting spirit", who would work to lift many poor Indonesians out of poverty.

The mother of two hoped he would create jobs for young people like her 22-year-old son, who has been jobless since graduating from a vocational high school a few years ago. She said: "It is very tough for my son to find a proper job. My wish is simple: he can land a job that matches his skills in automotive."

Jobs took centre stage during the Jan 27 rally, as the former army general vowed to create "as many jobs as possible" with "proper pay".

"Our farmers will be prosperous. Our fishermen will be prosperous. Our labourers working in factories will live well. This is my commitment to Indonesian people," he promised, to rapturous applause.

Among Mr Widodo's programmes, which Mr Prabowo seeks to continue, despite being from a different political party, is to build 13 new industrial areas along the northern coast of Java, where Subang regency is located.

He has also vowed to start a programme of providing free lunches and milk to Indonesian children, as well as to tackle key problems in the country, particularly corruption.

Housewife Musringah, 29, who joined the rally with her six-year-old daughter was excited about the lunch and milk programme. "I believe milk is good for children. But, my daughter only drinks milk once a day due to our limited budget," she said. "I am sure that Mr Prabowo can execute this programme if elected."

After Subang, Mr Prabowo proceeded to Serang, Banten province, for another rally.

Meanwhile, his rival, Mr Anies, met supporters in Aceh and Riau, while Mr Ganjar visited Central Java and West Java before returning to Jakarta for an Islamic mass prayer event.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-presidential-candidate-prabowo-greeted-with-excitement-in-stronghold-west-jav