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Campaign silence: Election posters on Jl. Veteran in South Jakarta on Sunday. A mandatory three-day campaign quiet period began on Sunday preceding election day on July 11, although election material could still be seen throughout the city.(JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)
Jakarta administration officials began removing election paraphernalia on Sunday, as the city entered a three-day quiet period during which campaigning is forbidden ahead of election day on July 11.
But although the banners may be coming down, campaign season is not completely over, with some candidates turning to the Internet to greet voters.
The official Twitter account of Independent pair Faisal Basri and Biem Benyamin, for instance, actively greeted and answered supporters’ questions on their programs on Sunday. “Starting from today, I will try to respond questions about our programs,” @faisalbiem said via Twitter at 1:06 p.m., followed by dozens of interactive messages with followers.
The account is followed by 53,087 Twitter users.
The independent pair has said that they will maximize the period to interact with their supporters heart to heart.
“During [the quiet period] we should greet people from heart to heart through Facebook, Twitter, BBM [BlackBerry Messenger], SMS [short message service] and anything that will not violate existing regulations,” Faisal said as quoted by tempo.co on Saturday.
The pair was not the only one busy on social media sites on Sunday.
@GoAlexNono6, a Twitter account owned by Alex Noerdin and Nono Sampono’s campaign team, was also busy introducing their vision and missions through their timeline.
The Twitter messages did not go without being questioned by the account’s some of its 16,493 followers.
“Excuse me, sir, but isn’t it prohibited to campaign now?” asked @Hilman_91. “Hey [now is] a quiet period,” wrote @kuaci_isna in response to Alex-Nono’s vision and mission messages.
Some followers reprimanded Alex-Nono for airing their programs during the quiet period, to which the account responded by saying, “Twitter is a media to distribute information just like newspapers, televisions, etc. It’s different from orations and campaigns on stages.”
Though the candidates said that such messages did not violate any regulations, Muhammad Jufri from the Jakarta Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) said that such activities could be categorized as covert campaigns.
“Any kind of activities that can influence voters’ preference within the three-day quiet period is prohibited, including airing programs or vision and mission statements through any kind of media,” he said.
Though the 2004 Law on Regional Government does not regulate online campaigns, Jufri said that the Panwaslu will send a warning letter to candidates who were proven running covert campaigns.
Twitter has become the newest media for campaigning. With approximately 6.2 million accounts registered in Indonesia, the nation has the third-largest number of Twitter users in the world, behind Japan with 16.1 million users and India with 6.4 million.
Besides the flurry of activity on Twitter, people also still can see the gubernatorial candidates smiling on ubiquitous campaign banners and posters throughout the city.
The first day of the quiet period was also marked by various campaign materials, ranging from eye-catching billboards and flags to inconspicuous posters, which were still on display in Jakarta on Sunday, media reported.
Incumbent Fauzi Bowo’s big banner, for instance, were still clearly seen on Jl. Kramat Jati, Central
Jakarta on Sunday afternoon.
Panwaslu Jakarta’s Jufri explained: “For the next three days, we are still taking down banners and posters, especially on big streets in Jakarta. For today, we will let the candidates’ campaign teams to do the cleaning, but during the next two days, we will remove all materials without hesitation.” (aml)