Vice-presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin has pledged to help incumbent President Joko Widodo reduce the gap between the rich and poor in Indonesia if the pair wins next April’s presidential poll, newsportal Detik.com has reported.
“It’s the new wave economy. A people’s economy that is aimed at reducing a range of gaps: between the weak and the strong, between different regions across Indonesia, and between local and global products,” Dr Ma’ruf was quoted by Detik.com as saying.
His remarks suggest that he is keen to take the responsibility of helping to manage the nation’s economy.
Mr Joko, who is seeking re-election, had announced on Aug 9 his choice of Dr Ma’ruf, an Islamic cleric, as his running mate, in what was seen as an attempt to bolster his Islamic credentials.
Dr Ma’ruf, 75, was chairman of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) until he was picked by Mr Joko as his running mate in a surprise last-minute decision.
Dr Ma’ruf is also a senior member of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama and has a track record as a regional legislator and lawmaker. He was a member of the Presidential Advisory Board in former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration.
Dr Ma’ruf said the new wave economy was needed, as the old economy led to conglomerates and the trickle-down effect did not materialise, Detik.com reported.
He added that the period through 2024 will be used to build “a strong runway” so that Indonesia can then “take off”.
Under the Indonesian system of government, the president is both head of state and head of government, while his ceremonial duties are usually delegated to the vice-president.
But the president can share power with the vice-president at his discretion.
Political analyst Firman Manan of the University of Padjadjaran, West Java, told The Straits Times that there has been only one vice-president who had great influence: Mr Jusuf Kalla during his 2004-2009 term as the No. 2 to then president Yudhoyono.
This was because Mr Kalla was chairman of Golkar, Indonesia’s oldest political party, he added. The party, which has the most experienced cadres in Indonesia, garnered the highest number of seats in the 2004 legislative election.
However, Mr Firman expressed doubts that Dr Ma’ruf would play a significant role in the country’s economy as vice-president.
“It’s rather difficult to imagine Ma’ruf Amin playing a role in governing the country’s economy. He does not hold significant political power, therefore does not have a high bargaining position,” said Mr Firman.
“Besides, his expertise is not on macroeconomics. His expertise is limited to the syariah economic law,” he said.