Indonesian presidential candidates hold second debate hinh anh 1Presidential candidates Joko Widodo (left) and Prabowo Subianto shake hands during a debate among candidates in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb 17, 2019. (Source: EPA-EFE)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesian presidential candidates Joko Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto on February 17 spared over the issues of energy, environment, infrastructure, food, and natural resources in their second debate held two months ahead of the presidential polls.

Regarding the environment, incumbent 57-year-old President Widodo reiterated that the government has proven its efforts in addressing forest fires with 11 firms fined for their violations. Contaminated rivers are being detoxified as well, he said.

Food security was touched upon when the debate moved to a question and answer format, during which President Widodo described the food reserve as the government’s top priority to ensuring food security in anticipation of natural disasters, lean harvests, and limited rice imports.

Indonesia has been able to provide 21 million tonnes of rice by itself since 1984, with the figure climbing to 33 million tonnes in 2018, he said.

Pointing out some of the government’s weaknesses, 67-year-old Subianto said that more efforts are needed to protect local farmers and provide food for all people at affordable prices.

As food is key to deciding a nation’s success, Indonesia must meet the domestic demand for food on its own without relying on imports, he noted, adding that he will work to ensure food sufficiency and rational food prices if he is elected for the 2019-2024 term.

He also criticised the current government for their inefficient approach to infrastructure as “infrastructure is for the people, rather than people for the infrastructure” and “infrastructure is not a monument and it must be beneficial”.

He cited the light rapid transit (LRT) network in Palembang, South Sumatra, and Kertajati International Airport in Majalengka Regency in West Java as poorly targeted infrastructure.

Moreover, Subianto pledged to hand out strict punishments to any firm that causes harm to the environment. The reorganisation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is part of the measure to prevent violations of environmental laws, he said.

Although nearly 3,000 security staff were arranged for the presidential debate, an explosion took place in a parking lot that was attached to the Gelora Bung Karno stadium complex, sending hundreds of people watching the event scrambling for safety. There were no casualties or asset damage reported.

The following debates will be organised on March 17 and 30 and April 13.–VNA