Poll starts amid dark comedy
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Election Day: A housewife, one of hundreds of recent fire victims from Karet Tengsin in Central Jakarta, is given a voter’s card by a local election official on Wednesday. Eligible voters will be casting their ballots in the gubernatorial runoff election today (Thursday). (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
The Jakarta gubernatorial runoff election on Thursday will take place amid campaigns teetering between sarcasm and dark comedy designed to woo undecided voters over the past several days.
Comments and jokes about checkered shirts and mustaches, viral text messages implying the possibility of having a human rights offender as the country’s leader and a slew of insults hurled toward each candidate all point to escalating levels of tension between rival supporters who were still working on the slim margin of 120,000 swing votes identified in recent surveys.
On Wednesday, Jakarta Police named two people suspects for allegedly distributing flyers containing racial remarks and calling on people not to vote for Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his running mate Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama — a Christian of Chinese descent.
Pandapotan Lubis and Joki Simbolon were arrested Tuesday after allegedly distributing racial messages on Jl. Matraman, East Jakarta. The flyers, titled “People’s demand: the conscience of the capital’s outskirt people”, were signed by a group calling themselves native Jakartans.
“The city police are currently questioning Lubis and Simbolon about where the flyers were printed and who ordered them to distribute the flyers,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said, adding that the police had yet to find any indication that the distribution of flyers was connected to any particular political campaign.
The police also reported that they had found graffiti featuring anti-Chinese sentiments written on residents’ houses on Tuesday on Jl. Puri Indah in Kembangan, West Jakarta. Witnesses said that the graffiti was probably done on Monday night.
Rikwanto said that the police had cleaned up the graffiti and had coordinated with the local elections supervisory committee (Panwaslu) regarding the matter.
“The West Jakarta Police are currently looking for suspects and have contacted Kembangan’s Panwaslu to investigate the case,” Rikwanto said.
Separately, Geofedi Rauf, a member of incumbent Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo’s campaign team, said that the graffiti and the flyer distribution were slanderous acts conducted to discredit Fauzi ahead of the runoff election.
“These kind of things had never been used before, but Jokowi and Ahok joined the election competition. The flyers and graffiti are structured vilification,” Geofedi said, urging the police investigate the cases thoroughly to find those responsible.
Jokowi and Ahok are supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party, which boasts Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto as its chief patron.
Prabowo has been implicated in a number of human rights abuses during the 1998 turmoil, which also saw anti-Chinese riots in Jakarta.
Separately on Wednesday, legal representatives of Jokowi’s campaign team reported Jakarta Election Supervisory (Panwaslu Jakarta) chairman Ramdansyah to the Election Organizer Ethics Council (DKPP) for failing to remain neutral in the election.
The team accused Ramdansyah of favoring Fauzi’s camp in filing a recommendation to the Jakarta Police to process a campaign violation involving TV ads.
The commercials, funded by the Association of Indonesian Traditional Market Traders (APPSI) — chaired by Prabowo, were found in violation of electoral rules by paying TV stations to run commercials backing Jokowi outside the designated campaign period.
“We found in news reports and photographs that Ramdansyah accompanied Fauzi’s campaign team when he filed the recommendation at the Jakarta Police headquarters,” Habiburokhman, one of Jokowi’s representatives said.
The Jokowi camp demanded that the DKPP relieve Ramdansyah of his post pending an investigation.
“Ramdansyah committed an ethical violation and should be penalized,” Habiburokhman said.
The ethics council’s decision does not affect election results, but it can sanction election officials found guilty of ethical breaches.
Separately, Ramdansyah denied the accusations of impartiality, explaining that he went to the police headquarters alone and later met with Fauzi’s camp.
“The TV ad case was reported by Fauzi’s camp and they were to report it to the police. My presence was needed to explain to the police that Panwaslu found the ad to be a violation,” Ramdansyah told reporters.
The grievance filed with the DKPP was the second such complaint submitted in connection with the Jakarta gubernatorial election. (aml)