Indonesian VP candidate Sandiaga Uno praises S'pore chicken rice & ease of doing business here

Uno wants to revamp the agricultural sector by appealing to millennials.

Sulaiman Daud | March 15, 2019, 05:44 PM

While Singaporeans speculate about a 2019 general election, the presidential election in Indonesia are well underway.

The incumbent President Joko Widodo, noted motorbike enthusiast and metalhead, is running for a second five-year term.

His opponent is former military man Prabowo, who previously challenged Widodo in 2014 and lost.

But this time he's hoping to win with the help of his vice-presidential candidate, Sandiaga Uno.

Fresh face in the running

Uno is a relatively youthful politician at 49 years of age, and was the former Deputy Governor of Jakarta.

He resigned from this post in order to sign up as Prabowo's running mate.

Uno also enjoys a reputation as a successful financial investor, and was counted among the top 40 richest men in Indonesia in 2011.

During an interview with him published by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute on March 12, Uno focused mainly on economic issues and cost of living.

But he also took some time to praise a few things that he felt Singapore had gotten right.

Ease of doing business

When asked for his most "pressing" priorities, Uno replied that job creation was the most important.

And he gave Singapore as an example of a country that had succeeded in this area.

Uno said:

"The first priority is to push for job creation. 97 per cent of the jobs created are from SMEs. So, we will help the SMEs by giving them the right training and mentoring. We will give incentives so that they can get the right permits fast.

Just like when you create a company in Singapore, you can finish it in one day and the bureaucracy is very simple. That is why Singapore is number one on the ease of doing business."

Uno also explained how he would tackle other obstacles that made it difficult for Indonesians to start businesses, such as poor access to capital, markets, and reversing the trend of de-industrialisation.

"A lot of industries are leaving Indonesia because they think it is too cumbersome and very difficult. The tax regime is not healthy, the labour force is not efficient, and so on and so forth. We need to lure back investments to create jobs."

Cheap chicken rice

But Uno also talked about something a bit more familiar to the average Singaporean.

Namely, the price of chicken rice.

Uno marvelled that despite lacking land and resources, Singapore still managed to keep the price of common dishes like chicken rice relatively low.

He said:

"I was ridiculed when I said that chicken rice in Indonesia was more expensive than chicken rice in Singapore. However, if you go to hawker centres in Singapore, you can still buy a plate of chicken rice for S$3.

In Jakarta, it is very difficult to get the same quality food at the same price because the price of chicken is expensive. Yet Singapore does not have land and paddy fields. All of your products are imported."

He added that keeping food prices low would be another priority of a potential Prabowo-Uno government.

To do so, Uno would "support" the agricultural sector and improve distribution chains, saying that he already did so as Deputy Governor of Jakarta.

Source: Privé Clarke Quay Facebook

Other priorities

Uno also pledged to clean up corruption, becoming self-sufficient in food, energy and water, and developing renewable energy.

He also elaborated on a plan to revitalise the farming industry by framing it as an entrepreneurship opportunity for today's "rural millennials".

Uno previously visited Singapore in November 2018, where he spoke at a seminar organised by ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

He was also hosted to dinner by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

If Prabowo and Uno do end up winning in April, they might look to Singapore for advice on how to improve the fortunes of the world's third-largest democracy.

You can read the full interview at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute website at this link.

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Top image from Vivian Balakrishnan's Facebook page.