JAKARTA: Months away from completing a bachelor’s degree in information technology, Mr Bobby Hidayat is torn.
The 22-year-old is happy that he will no longer be a burden to his single mother who had to work tirelessly to put him through school. But at the same time, Mr Bobby is anxious about life after graduation.
What awaits him is a shrinking job market as investment in the Indonesian technology scene slumped in the aftermath of a global economic slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the political uncertainty caused by the upcoming election.
According to the Jakarta Globe, investments in the country’s digital sector amounted to around US$9.5 billion in 2021. Two years later, the figure plummeted to less than US$1.9 billion.
Dozens of companies, including some of the biggest names in Indonesia’s technology sector, such as multi-sector super-app GoTo, payment gateway Xendit and investment platform Ajaib, have been downsizing their workforce.
During many restless nights, Mr Bobby has wondered what opportunities are out there for an inexperienced soon-to-be-graduate of a mid-tier university in Jakarta.
What is certain, he said, is that he wants a president who can create more jobs and ensure that Indonesia remains attractive to investments. He also wants someone who can do something about the rising cost of living, home ownership and college tuition fees.
“I want a leader who understands the problems we youths are facing,” Mr Bobby told CNA, adding that he is still unsure who to vote for in the upcoming Indonesian presidential election on Feb 14.
Other 20-year-olds interviewed by CNA are equally undecided, highlighting a diverse list of criteria that might help them choose the right candidate.
“The most important issue for me is women’s rights and gender equality,” 24-year-old Mirna Agustina told CNA.
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Mr Adrian Putra said the most important issue for him is the supremacy of the law.
“I want someone who can make sure that the rich and powerful can’t get away with breaking the law,” he said, adding that he also wants to see a reform in law enforcement agencies and institutions.
Indonesia’s youths are also scrutinising the candidates’ commitments to issues such as climate change, inclusivity and anti-corruption.
The election will see three candidates vying to become the next president of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy: former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, defence minister Prabowo Subianto and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo.
The outgoing president, Joko Widodo, who has a high approval rating of 80 per cent, is barred by the country’s constitution from seeking a third term.
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