As Indonesians head to the polls on April 9 for our legislative elections, we must not forget the importance of choosing leaders who will work tirelessly for all citizens - not just those in our major urban areas. Too many of our citizens in the rural areas have been left behind as Indonesia has expanded its economy for the elites in the urban areas and ignored the needs of the vital agricultural, forestry, and fishery-based communities. We cannot forget that we have a moral and constitutional obligation to support everyone along the social-economic spectrum. The Gerindra Party, led by Prabowo Subianto, is committed to transforming our nation by creating an inclusive economy in which citizens in both the urban cities and rural communities, and particularly the poor, can participate and flourish.
As a party of action and inclusivity, the leaders of the Gerindra party make this pledge to the people of Indonesia: we will not leave our brothers and sisters in rural communities behind.
Over the past 15 years Indonesia has made great strides in education, health care, and poverty reduction. However, much of this development has been limited to a few major metropolitan areas. While the conditions have vastly improved in our urban areas, the country's rural communities continue to struggle with hunger, failing infrastructure, and chronic malnutrition and poverty.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nations must increase their food output by some 70% to meet the needs of a projected nine billion humans by 2050. With an average increase of two percent a year, the Indonesian population is growing at 4.8 million births - virtually adding "a Singapore" of hungry mouths annually. We are expected to add 15 million people in 2015 alone. This population explosion presents a tremendous challenge and our urban centers are consuming the vast majority of resources at the expense of our rural communities. The country's economic resources are not being distributed fairly. We must invest in agricultural production and rural economic infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population.
If the Indonesian leadership chooses to ignore or cover up this problem, we are doomed to face social unrest and instability. Housing, food, jobs, education, public health - all systems will be overwhelmed. Out of fear or lack of opportunity, many citizens are often forced to put up with oppressive, exploitative and corrupt governments - but when they cannot feed their families they will become desperate and rise up in protest. Food security is thus a political and cultural issue as much as an economic one.
Gerindra pledges to work to balance infrastructure investment between the urban and rural areas. Government resources have been heavily pumped into the urban cities to modernize infrastructure and provide greater services. However, over 70% of the country's population lives in the rural areas and most have seen little support from the government. The dilapidated road and electricity grid hinder economic growth and investment in the rural areas. The government also has a responsibility to support and protect our natural resources - crucial to many of our rural economic industries. Indonesia is blessed with fertile soil, the result of millions of years of volcanic eruptions, and a climate conducive to year-round cultivation. However, a lack of law enforcement and infrastructure investment by the government has created hardships for rural families throughout the archipelago dependent on agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries. Gerindra will focus on ensuring an equitable distribution of resources to our rural and poor communities to create an inclusive economy of the people and for the people.
Imbalanced government investment has also failed to address chronic malnutrition, poor education, and poverty throughout rural Indonesia. Medical centers do not have the medicines they need to care for the mothers and children, and teachers lack the training and pay they need to educate our children. Health care in Indonesia is a constitutionally protected right and we are failing our rural communities. Over 40% of our population lives below or right on the poverty line and the rural rate is twice that of urban areas. Prabowo and the Gerindra Party vows to take on health, education, and poverty issues in the rural areas as a major priority so that all citizens have adequate health care, education, and a decent living.
Forgetting our brothers and sisters in rural Indonesia is a terrible mistake and the Gerindra Party refuses to leave anyone behind on our path to greater prosperity. We commit to moving Indonesia forward by engaging all of the nation's engines for economic growth, not just those located in the big cities. If we do not come together to govern fairly with honesty and integrity, our nation will face increasing economic hardship and food scarcity and we will run the risk of becoming a 'failed state' with severe political instability. Without strong leadership willing to balance the government's investment between the urban and rural areas, we will fail to meet the needs of our citizens. Prabowo and the Gerindra Party will not allow this to happen, we will never leave anyone behind.