Noken voting system contradicts principles of democracy, says lawmaker
Nethy Dharma Somba
The Jakarta Post
The government should no longer permit the implementation of the noken voting system in elections in Papua because it contravenes the principles of direct, public and free elections, a lawmaker has said.
A member of the Papua Legislative Council (DPRD) from the Hanura Party, Yan Mandenas, said the noken voting system implemented in the Pegunungan Tengah mountain range region was not in line with the principles of direct, public and free elections because a community gave authority to one person to select a candidate in an election.
The lawmaker further said that there was no secrecy in the system because voters placed their ballots in a noken, a traditional Papuan bag that had the name of the chosen candidate written on it.
'The noken system must no longer be implemented because it takes away the right of a citizen to vote directly. Their right to vote has been taken away by a community's chosen representative,' Mandenas said.
The Hanura politician further said that people in Pegunungan Tengah had slowly begun to understand the process of presidential, legislative and regional head elections.
'Indonesia has long adopted the principle of direct, public and free elections and people are getting smarter in practicing democracy. So, we should not take away people's right to elect their leaders by defending the noken system. To all political elites, please stop mobilizing people to support the interests of a certain elite group through the noken system,' Mandenas said.
It is widely believed that the noken system helps political elites attain the most votes. During the 2014 elections, candidates from several electoral districts did not get any votes while other candidates were able to gain all votes.
A law expert from the University of Cenderawasih, Marthen Fery Kareth, said the noken system must be stopped and all people should be encouraged to use their right to vote.
Kareth said the noken system had triggered many conflicts, some of which that had led to fatalities.
Kareth further explained that although voters in Papua, specifically people in Pegunungan Tengah, understood the principles of direct, public and free elections, more political education was needed to change people's mindset about voting.
'All parties, comprising local administrations, election commissioners, Election Supervisory Agency [Bawaslu] members, political elites and academicians have to educate people so they can fully understand the democratic election system. It is hoped that people will learn to understand the principles of direct, public and free elections,' said Kareth.
The law expert said local administrations should stand in the front line to push forward the removal of the noken system.
'If there are local administrations or election organizers that call for the implementation of a noken system in Papua, it's likely they that they are trying to push their own agenda,' said Mandenas. (ebf)
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