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Megawati says she set foundation for development JAKARTA - Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri, in her last televised debate before seeking re- election on Monday, said her three-year-old government set the foundation for the country's economic recovery. ``As a nation, we are required to continue the development that we have achieved so far or to start from a new beginning,'' she told a panel on the all-news MetroTV channel. ``The answer will certainly be -- to continue to develop from a strong foundation, to reduce poverty, provide more jobs and improve people's welfare.''
Her five-point campaign pledge revolves around creating 12.9 million jobs in the next term, half a million of which will be in education, and paying more attention to social welfare, health care and infrastructure. This year marked the first time Indonesians could freely hear candidates debate on television. Indonesia is the last country in Southeast Asia to recover from the 1997-1998 financial crisis. The region's largest economy, valued at $208 billion annually, is unable to expand fast enough to create jobs for 2 million new entrants a year. There are 40 million people already unemployed or working a few hours a week, the World Bank said.
The economy may expand at least 4.8 percent this year, below the World Bank's recommendation to avoid social instability. Megawati, who became Indonesia's fifth president in July 2001, praised the peaceful April 5 general election and the peaceful campaigning for the presidential poll. ``We have done a democratic general election,'' she said. ``In the end, we can put the power in a proper place: in the people's hands.''

Not Specific

Megawati failed to emphasize her successes and wasn't specific on how to achieve her goals, said Andi Mallarangeng, a political analyst, in an interview with MetroTV. ``Megawati should have told the audience, for example, the success she has made so far, instead of spending so much time on what her programs are,'' he said. In her term, Megawati followed an International Monetary Fund prescribed program to reduce inflation, lower interest rates and stabilize the currency, helping companies reduce debt, refinance loans and benefit from a boost in consumer spending.
The general election, in which Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle came second behind the Golkar party with 19 percent of votes, was widely seen by analysts as a verdict on her government. Her party topped the 1999 polls with 34 percent of the votes.

Corruption Issue

In the debate, Megawati failed to answer a question on corruption by Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, a law lecturer at the University of Indonesia, based in Jakarta. The electorate ranks corruption as a key issue in Monday's poll, saying it impedes economic development. Under Megawati, Indonesia remained on an international money-laundering watch-list and among the most corrupt countries in the world on Berlin-based Transparency International's annual ranking.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Democratic Party is leading opinion polls going into the election. He had at least 40 percent of votes in two recent polls by the International Foundation for Election Systems and the Institute for Democracy Studies, both based in Jakarta. Campaigning ends today. A debate between Yudhoyono and Wiranto, the Golkar candidate, takes place tonight. The commission will enforce a three-day silent period before polling on Monday.



Posted in Elections @ 01 July 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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