Report – By Bagus BT Saragih
As the Indonesian general election campaign season entered its second week, election watchdogs said campaign violations had become so widespread they were virtually impossible to deal with.
In the city of Bengkulu, six out of 12 political parties contesting the April 9 legislative election have been reprimanded by the provincial capital’s General Elections Monitoring Body (Bawaslu) for putting up campaign advertisements not in compliance with the General Elections Commission’s (KPU) regulations.
The six parties were the Gerindra Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Democratic Party, the Golkar Party and the Crescent Star Party (PBB), Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) Bengkulu member Fatimah Siregar said.
“We frequently remove the illegal campaign advertisements but they always put them back up. Some times, within an hour after we remove them, they manage to put up even more,” he said, while pointing to a pile of campaign materials seized from restricted areas.
In Yogyakarta, the province’s Bawaslu reprimanded Youth and Sports Minister Roy Suryo Notodiprojo, who is also a Democrat legislative candidate, for putting up banners that failed to comply with regulations.
A 2013 KPU regulation, for example, stipulates that billboards can only be used by political parties provided they do not display candidates’ pictures. Candidates may only use banners. The campaign material can only be displayed in designated zones and the maximum number of displays by each party or candidate allowed in each zone is also limited.
“The violations here are so massive that our financial and manpower resources can not cope with them,” Bawaslu Yogyakarta head Muhammad Najib said.
Bantul regency’s Bawaslu in Yogyakarta said it had spotted 5,200 campaign displays that were not compliant with KPU regulations.
In Semarang, Nasdem Party chairman Surya Paloh was prohibited from giving out motorcycles as “door prizes” to two “lucky” supporters at a party campaign event in Central Java’s capital by the province’s Bawaslu, which warned the prizes could be categorized as a violation. The warning came a bit late as the party had already distributed other door prizes such as LCD televisions.
Bawaslu Karawang in West Java also reprimanded a political party after it was caught “engaging in vote-buying”.
Civil servants, who by law should not be partisan, were also reportedly campaigning for parties and candidates. Bawaslu Cianjur in West Java, for example, questioned one district head and three other civil servants for serving on campaign teams of certain legislative candidates. Bawaslu Cianjur head Saeful Anwar said the case could go to court, pending completion of investigations.
Many regional Bawaslu, such as those in Jakarta and Karawang, West Java; also reported the extensive use of children in campaigns which is a violation of election laws.
Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) Asrorun Niam said the commission had reported all 12 political parties to the National Bawaslu for failing to prevent their supporters from taking their children to campaign events.
Police chief Gen. Sutarman, however, said the force had not found any major election violations across the nation. “So far, we have only received reports about alleged vote-buying but none have been proven,” he told reporters at the State Palace.
Meanwhile administrative and logistics problems continue to plague election preparation in regions.
In Palu, Central Sulawesi, 5,767 unregistered voters were discovered, despite registration being open since February, furthermore 2,130 registered voters were found not to have valid citizenship numbers.
There were no reports so far from West Papua.
Suherdjoko, Ainur Rohmah and Ruslan Sangadji contributed to this story for the Jakarta Post from Semarang and Palu.