Got a Burning Question for the President? Fire Away

One lucky Indonesian will get a rare chance to sling a question at President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at this weekend’s World Economic Forum in Jakarta, organizers said on Friday.

Nicole Tapscott, associate director for media and communications at the event, said Yudhoyono had agreed to answer one question from the general public at the opening of the plenary session of the forum on Sunday.

She said the public could post their questions on the WEF’s Facebook page, at

“Today we launched ‘Ask a President’ on Facebook,” she said in a statement. “We will take questions all day on the forum’s Facebook page in both English and Indonesian.”

As of Friday evening, the page had garnered 73,000 fans and questions from 40 Facebook users.

The questions came from both Indonesians and foreigners and ranged from the trivial to the improbable.

One user, Wendy Prajuli, wanted to know why Yudhoyono often broke down in tears while on television.

Another, Muhammad Adam, asked: “How do you plan to close the gap between the richest of the rich and the po o r est of the poor of Indonesia?”

A few posted questions about the lack of animal welfare regulations, citing a recent report on the torture of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs, which has prompted the Australian government to halt the export of live cattle to Indonesia.

Others touched on Indonesia’s role on the international stage, and how the country could maintain a balance between rising demand for natural resources and environmental protection.

At the previous WEF in Davos, Switzerland, organizers held a similar online question-and-answer with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

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