2014 INDONESIA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
WITH three days left to campaign for the July 9 presidential election, Mr Joko Widodo yesterday outlined a nine-point plan of action to improve the lot of Indonesians if he is elected.
He has pledged to raise wages for civil servants, soldiers and policemen in stages over the next five years, make village officials civil servants and give a monthly subsidy of one million rupiah (S$105) for every family below the poverty line if economic growth is above 7 per cent.
Significantly, he has committed to raising standards of education at pesantren or Islamic boarding schools, alongside that of national education, and improving the welfare of pesantren teachers - a call aimed at undecided Muslim voters, especially those who attend or send their children to such schools.
"Pesantren make a significant contribution to our education system," he said. "Their quality has to be raised... and if the government does not step in, we will not solve this."
Mr Joko announced his plans alongside his running mate, Mr Jusuf Kalla, at a press conference in Bandung, capital of battleground West Java province, where he is on the campaign trail to woo undecided voters.
But his campaign is vying against the well-oiled machinery of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), whose leader, Mr Ahmad Heryawan, is West Java governor.
The PKS chief has been actively campaigning for Mr Joko's rival, Mr Prabowo Subianto, in the province.
Mr Joko has been visiting religious leaders and students at pesantren almost every day over the past week.
The thousands of pesantren are a key part of Indonesia's education system, teaching national subjects alongside religion.
Mr Joko's commitments, some of which build on key points in his campaign manifesto, are an attempt to remind voters that he has concrete programmes drawn up and to counter the attacks made by his opponent's campaign.
His plans include improving access to education for the children of farmers, fishermen and workers, and creating 10 million new jobs over the next five years.
Mr Joko, however, has been criticised over the fact that many of his plans for Jakarta, which elected him governor two years ago, have yet to be completed.
"When elected, we will expedite these," he said yesterday, citing how projects like an MRT system being built for the national capital require synchronisation between Jakarta's administration and the central government.
This article was first published on July 4, 2014.
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