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Jakarta Post

Investigation demanded as hundreds in HK denied vote

  • Bagus BT Saragih, Hans Nicholas Jong and Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, July 8, 2014   /  09:32 am

Chaotic Indonesian presidential voting in Hong Kong, which saw hundreds of Indonesians unable to cast their ballot on Sunday, has resulted in mounting calls for an investigation amid allegations that some local organizers were supporters of a certain ticket.

Jimly Asshiddiqie, chairman of the Election Organizers Ethics Council (DKPP), said on Monday that the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) should be the first to launch an investigation.

'€œThe public is unsatisfied by the two bodies'€™ explanations so far. Therefore, to prevent the controversy from becoming more heated given that voting day that is only days away, an investigation into who is responsible should be conducted,'€ Jimly said in Jakarta.

Both the KPU and Bawaslu have come under fire following the incident, which has sparked significant debate. Two KPU members, Sigit Pamungkas and Juri Ardiantoro, as well as Bawaslu chairman Muhammad, were present in Hong Kong on Sunday to personally monitor the vote.

About 150,000 Indonesians, mostly domestic workers, currently reside in Hong Kong. Hundreds of them staged a protest because they were not allowed to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and many of them suspected that they were rejected simply because they were supporters of candidate Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo.

Local organizers admitted they had been overwhelmed by the unprecedented surge of voters in Hong Kong, even though the number of people who came to voting stations was far less than the number of ballot papers that were prepared.

According to the Indonesian Consulate, 114,662 voters were registered in Hong Kong and Macau, but only 23,569 cast their ballots in Hong Kong and 1,568 in Macau. Those who opted to send their ballots by mail numbered 18,126 people. As a result, around 70,000 ballots were left unused.

In comparison, only 18,177 people cast their votes in Hong Kong and Macau during the April legislative election.

Nevertheless, the KPU and Bawaslu have blamed the chaos on disgruntled eligible voters.

KPU commissioner Hadar Nafis Gumay defended the Overseas Election Committee (PPLN) in Hong Kong, saying that local organizers had simply followed the orders given by local authorities to close the polling station on time.

'€œThey did nothing wrong, as the Hong Kong government only permitted the use of Victoria Park for the election until 5 p.m. [local time],'€ he said on Monday, referring to a popular relaxation spot for Indonesian domestic workers
in Hong Kong.

Migrant worker activists as well as independent observers claimed that thousands of workers arrived even before the station was open in the morning. Those who were not registered as eligible voters were told to wait until the afternoon, to prioritize those who were registered.

The number of people who were not registered turned out to be considerable, prompting organizers to open a special line for unregistered voters around noon. '€œAt around 5 p.m., the PPLN announced that the polling station would be closed, while hundreds of them were still lining up,'€ NGO Migrant Care said in a statement.

'€œOfficials should have anticipated and quickly assessed the situation to come up with alternative solutions because [the unregistered voters] are also Indonesians who have the constitutional right to vote,'€ it added.

Bawaslu member Muhammad, meanwhile, alleged that those rallying were actually voters who had cast their ballots.

'€œThe park was already empty [when the stations closed]. Then came a group of people saying they had not voted yet, although their pinky fingers had been tainted with ink [suggesting they had already voted],'€ he said on Monday.

Muhammad'€™s fellow Bawaslu member, Daniel Zuchron, however, cited poor management by the organizers in Hong Kong. '€œIn my opinion, it was just about how to manage resources, places and time properly,'€ he said.

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