National

Parties banned from running
campaign ads

First look: Handicapped students in Kembangan, West Jakarta, get a first look at a freshly printed ballot to be used in the April 9 legislative election on Wednesday. The General Elections Commission (KPU) has pledged to provide polling stations accessible to disabled voters across the country in the 2014 general election. JP/Wendra Ajistyatama
First look: Handicapped students in Kembangan, West Jakarta, get a first look at a freshly printed ballot to be used in the April 9 legislative election on Wednesday. The General Elections Commission (KPU) has pledged to provide polling stations accessible to disabled voters across the country in the 2014 general election. JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

General election bodies and media monitoring agencies have agreed to ban political parties from running political ads through electronic and print media in the run up to the legislative election’s campaign period, which is scheduled to kick off on March 16.

The Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu), the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) and the Central Information Commission (KIP), which have formed a joint task force, said that the decision was made following a request by the House of Representatives Commission I overseeing information.

The moratorium will effectively ban all political ads through the media before the scheduled campaign period between March 16 to April 2.

“Actually we have already made preparations before being asked by the House Commission I. So the moratorium is being reinforced by the joint decision made by the task force,” Bawaslu chairman Muhammad told reporters.

Muhammad said that in enforcing the ban, the different agencies would work within their respective responsibilities.

“The KPU and the Bawaslu will remind all political parties not to campaign outside of the campaign period while the KPI will monitor the media,” he said.

Errant political parties and media would be punished accordingly, Muhammad said.

“With regards to political parties, we will report them to the National Police’s crime unit,” he said.

Responding to the new policy, Hanura Party deputy secretary-general Didi Apriadi said that the party would abide by the rule.

Didi, however, said that up to this point, his party had merely tried to educate the public on politics and elections through advertisements on TV station RCTI, owned by media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is also Hanura chairman Wiranto’s vice presidential running mate.

“Both the KPU and the Bawaslu rarely educate the public [on elections]. So we are actually broadcasting public service announcements. So we don’t know why the KPI has issues with our ads,” he said.

Didi also called on the task force to clearly define what constitutes a political ad.

“Please clearly state the difference between a public service announcement and a political campaign ad,” he said.

Bawaslu commissioner Nasrullah said that any ads paid for by political parties would be regarded as campaigning, and therefore must be banned if aired outside the campaign period.

Instead of ads from political parties, the media should broadcast public service announcements about the election, Nasrullah said.

Meanwhile, the National Police said on Wednesday that they had suspended investigations into six election violation cases implicating major politicians and businessmen, including Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie, Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa and Hary.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said on Wednesday that the six cases, which were filed by the Bawaslu, were rife with administrative errors that eventually forced the police to suspend them.

“The Bawaslu failed to immediately report some of the violations and missed the deadline. And in other investigations they could not provide sufficient evidence,” Ronny said at National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

Among the cases is the alleged unauthorized political campaign by Aburizal and Golkar politician Rizal Mallarangeng. Bawaslu commissioner Endang W., who filed the report on last August, accused the two of violating the Article 276 of the 2012 Legislative Election Law, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a Rp 12 million (US$1,032) fine.

In January, Bawaslu commissioner Daniel Zuchron reported Hatta, who is also National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman, and Hary for campaigning outside of designated period.

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