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Indonesia election: Kalla's family an influence on voters?

The Kalla Group has contributed to the city's development since the 1960s. But how will Indonesian vice-presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla's family's business and philanthropy influence Makassar's voters on July 9?

MAKASSAR: Indonesian vice-presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla is from a renowned industrialist family in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

From automotive to construction and energy, the Kalla Group has contributed to the city's development since the 1960s.

But how will Mr Kalla's family’s business and philanthropy influence Makassar's voters on July 9?

This year, the Kalla Group donated US$2 million to the Kalla Foundation -- a philanthropic group run by Mr Kalla's family -- to fund charity programmes in education, religion, environmental protection and community development.

One such programme is math lessons that could help high school students from South Sulawesi pass their university entrance exams, which is a partnership between South

Sulawesi-born students from the Bandung Institute of Technology and the Kalla Foundation.

Fatimah Kalla, chairperson of The Kalla Foundation, said: "Our work in education clearly benefits the South Sulawesi people. Our Athira Islamic school has been running since the start of the establishment of the Kalla Foundation and we have begun developing other school campuses as well."

The Athira school is one of the top private Islamic schools in Makassar.

It is using its reputation to rally electoral support behind the Kalla family patriarch.

Political analyst Aswar Hasan says a majority of voters in South Sulawesi will vote for Joko Widodo and Mr Kalla for sentimental reasons.

But Nunis, a first-time voter, said she is not relying on emotions to choose her next president.

The high school student said: "I think their reputation is sound. Then again, I don't vote based on reputation but by their track record and their political platform in further developing Indonesia."

For the past 30 years, the Kalla Foundation has been involved in philanthropy, including opening schools, organising educational programmes for the poor and giving out scholarships.

But some students admit the foundation's funding has not pushed them to choose one presidential candidate over another in the upcoming presidential election.

Bandung Institute of Technology student Abdhy Gazali has received US$2,000 from the Kalla Foundation, but he is still undecided.

He said: "Voting is based on our conscience and it can be a dilemma. Till now, I still don't know who I will vote for.

“On one hand the financial aid I received helped me, but on the other hand I'm undecided. I'll make up my mind at the last minute."

Overwhelming support for a fellow Makassar resident might give Mr Kalla an advantage in his hometown, but not necessarily so in other provinces.

Still, win or no win, Mr Kalla and his family will continue to play an integral part of this city's future economic progress.  

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