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Hottest contest being fought in Indonesia's most populous province

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Hottest contest being fought in Indonesia's most populous province

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West Java gubernatorial candidate Deddy Mizwar and running mate Dedi Mulyadi (left) during a final debate session ahead of Wednesday's regional polls. They are backed by Golkar and the Democratic Party.
Published7 hours ago

The hottest contest in Indonesia's regional polls on Wednesday is being fought in West Java.

The province is home to more than 30 million voters - some 21 per cent of 152 million who will vote on Wednesday - and is where opposition leader Prabowo Subianto won more ballots than President Joko Widodo in the 2014 presidential race before the former lost the national popular vote.

While the gubernatorial contest is a four-way race, the front runners are clear: Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil, 46, and his running mate, Tasikmalaya regent Uu Ruzhanul Ulum, 49; and the pair of veteran actor Deddy Mizwar, 63, and Purwakarta regent Dedi Mulyadi, 47.

The Ridwan/Uu pair is backed by politica l party NasDem, founded by Mr Joko's closest ally and media magnate Surya Paloh, as well as the National Awakening Party (PKB), United Development Party (PPP) and the nationalist Hanura Party.

Mr Ridwan earned a master's degree in urban design from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2006, he was the Indonesian winner of the British Council's Young Creative Entrepreneur award, and was awarded architect of the year by Elle Decor magazine three years later.

In 1994, he was selected as a Singapore International Foundation-Asean fellow and spent time at the National University of Singapore (NUS). "My stint as an exchange student in NUS was the first time I had ventured out of Indonesia," Mr Ridwan wrote in an article published by The Jakarta Post in August 2015.

The architect was based in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong, and has worked on major projects around the world. His projects include being involved in planning work to develop an urban area in Singapore that would later be known as the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.

The Deddy/Dedi pair is backed by Golkar, Indonesia's second-largest political party, and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party.

Mr Deddy was until recently West Java deputy governor and widely believed to be the vote-getter in his electoral win with governor Ahmad Heryawan five years ago, when they were backed by the Islam-leaning Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

The actor, who regularly plays the role of an Islamic cleric in movies and advertisements, had earlier hoped to get the backing of PKS and Mr Prabowo's Gerindra for the polls, but never saw it realised.

The Ridwan/Uu and Deddy/Dedi pairings are seen to be largely inclined to support Mr Joko's re-election bid next year.

The latest poll by Saiful Mujani Research Centre showed the Ridwan/ Uu pair with 43.1 per cent support, and Deddy/Dedi with 34.1 per cent.

The other contending pairs are Mr Tubagus Hasanuddin, 65, and police general Anton Charliyan, 57, backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle; and Mr Sudrajat, 69, and running mate Ahmad Syaikhu, 53, backed by Mr Prabowo's Gerindra and PKS. Both pairs had less than 10 per cent support each. There were nil returns from 8 per cent of respondents.

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Hottest contest being fought in Indonesia's most populous province'. Print Edition | Subscribe Topics:

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