Panwaslu increases focus on campaign violations
Seeing more and more campaign activities taking place on the borderline of campaign violations, the Jakarta branch of the Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu Jakarta) says it will intensify the investigation of money politics allegations by verifying its findings and questioning relevant witnesses.
Panwaslu Jakarta chairman Ramdansyah said that his committee had identified campaign-related activities that could be categorized as money politics, which is prohibited according to election law and can disqualify candidates.
“For example, one of the candidates sold a package of basic commodities [sembako] for Rp 5,000 [53 US cents] to citizens attending his campaign. The package consisted of items worth around Rp 20,000. We are currently investigating whether this case, as well as other similar cases, can be classified as money politics or not,” he said on Friday.
According to a 2004 Law on Local Elections, a practice can be categorized as money politics if a candidate “gives money or goods that can influence voters to cast their votes to the giver”.
Various candidates have given money and various gifts since the election campaign period started on June 24, despite candidates’ arguments that the gifts “were not intended to influence voters”.
The latest vote-buying allegation occurred on Wednesday, when South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin held a lottery during his campaign in Cengkareng, Banten, in which he distributed five coupons that could be traded for free refrigerators.
On Tuesday, a member of the campaign team for the Fauzi Bowo-Nachrowi Ramli pair gave Rp 200,000 to a group of 10 middle-aged women performing on a stage set up for the candidates’ campaign in Ciracas, East Jakarta.
Many also accused gubernatorial hopefuls Hidayat Nur Wahid and Hendardji Soepandji as having been involved in vote-buying practices, as they both provided free healthcare services during their respective campaigns.
Hidayat and Hendardji also bought free noodles and porridge for people attending their respective campaign-related activities.
“The legality [of gifts] depends on a candidate’s purpose. Some of the candidates want their vision and mission to be recognized by a large number of citizens, hence they hold activities such as music performances or free medical checkups to invite people to come,” said Ramdansyah.
“As long as the candidates do not offer money as incentives; things such as providing free medical checkups are still considered as legal,” he added.
Besides providing free medical checkups and distributing free gifts, some candidates are also accused of violating campaigns as many of their campaign-related activities were attended by many children.
Asked about whether involving children in campaigns was legal, Ramdansyah replied: “We cannot avoid the fact that many parents bring their children with them in campaigns. However, we consider their participation as ‘indirect’, with campaign violations only occurring when candidates involve children directly, such as asking those below 17-years-old to perform entertainment activities on stage.”
In a separate development, the Jakarta Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) held a simulation of the upcoming election in the Cipinang Penitentiary complex in East Jakarta on Friday, which served to educate the inmates about the electoral process as well as informing them of the profile of the six candidates.