Papua will continue to use noken voting system: KPU
Nethy Dharma Somba
The Jakarta Post
The noken voting system will be still used in regional elections in Papua, as the social custom of the Papuan people, which has been passed across generations, has many good values, an election official has said.
General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Husni Kamil Manik said that as a gauge of public opinion in Papuan culture, noken could not be totally removed from either regional head elections or general elections.
'Several values in the noken system are in line with general election principles, but some other values are not yet in accordance with election principles, so we need to alter how they are implemented,' he said in Jayapura on Tuesday.
Giving an example, Kamil said the noken system adopted Indonesia's widespread 'musyawarah untuk mufakat' (deliberation for consensus) style of decision-making. In a general election under the noken system, there is also a campaign period, during which a candidate conveys his or her vision and mission to all constituents. The constituents are also be given time to analyze the candidate and deliberate until consensus is reached, he added.
However, Kamil further said, that the noken system did not protect voters' right to confidentiality, which was not in line with Indonesia's principle of direct, public and free elections. Under the noken system, the choices of voters can be seen by all people present at a voting station.
'This could potentially trigger political resentment because a candidate will be fully aware who chose him or her and who did not support him or her,' said Kamil.
Under such conditions, the KPU chairman said, the Provincial General Elections Commission (KPUD) must alter the practice so that it maintained voter confidentiality.
'Until now, [voting takes place via] a noken [traditional Papuan bag] with the name of a chosen candidate attached to it. As the result, everybody knows 'who chooses who',' said Kamil.
'There should be a new method. We can still use a noken but we put it in a booth so that the confidentiality of our choice is maintained. The noken will be put into a ballot box before they are counted,' he said.
To adjust the noken system so that it complies with Indonesia's direct, public and free election principles, Kamil said, all KPUD officials in areas still using the noken system must start a dialogue with the public about the positives and negatives of the noken voting system.
'One thing that they must tell the public is that it is important for a voter to be able to cast his or her vote directly. Although there has been an agreement that they must choose a certain candidate, they should still be allowed to participate in the voting process directly, and not be represented by others as has happened under the noken system until now' said Kamil.
KPUD Papua chairman Adam Arisoi said 11 regencies and municipalities would participate in regional elections in Papua in 2017. Of the total, six regencies, namely Dogiyai, Nduga, Lanny Jaya, Puncak, Puncak Jaya and Tolikara, would still use the noken system.
'However, not all polling stations in the six regencies will apply the noken system. Only some of them will use it and the remainder will allow for vote-casting in line with nationally-adopted direct, public and free election principles,' said Adam.
He further said that in the 2017 regional elections, tribal chiefs would no longer represent their tribes in casting votes. All voters will cast their votes directly.
KPUD Puncak Jaya chairman Jennifer Darling Tabuni said the noken system would be used at only eight locations. 'Voters in other areas of the regency will cast their vote in line with the direct, public and free election principles,' he said. (ebf)
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