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Jakarta Post

Parties back graft convicts, suspects in polls

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 7, 2015   /  04:33 pm

In an apparent sign of the country'€™s waning commitment to battling corruption, ex-convicts and suspects have flocked to run in elections in 11 regions this December.

Unlike in previous local elections, the General Elections Commission (KPU) has allowed former convicts who have been freed for less than five years to nominate themselves as regional head candidates as long as they announce their history publicly or offer explanation letters from their former prisons.

The Constitutional Court annulled a ban on convicts running in elections in the Regional Elections Law on the grounds that it is against the constitution to prohibit someone'€™s political right to contest elections.

Since the ruling, the KPU has also allowed suspects to nominate themselves based on the presumption of innocence.

Former Semarang mayor Soemarmo Hadi Saputro, who was dismissed from office in 2012, has prepared to run again for his old position by announcing in a local city newspaper that he is a former graft convict.

Besides Soemarmo, there are at least eight more ex-convicts pending KPU verification to run in the elections.

They are Elly Engelbert Lasut in North Sulawesi, Vonny Panambunan in North Minahasa, Jimmy Rimba Rogi in Manado, Abu Bakar Ahmad in Dompu, Utsman Ikhsan in Sidoarjo, Monang Sitorus in Toba Samosir, Jules Warikar in Supiori and Yusak Yaluwo in Boven Digoel.

They are either former regional heads or local council members who were involved in corruption in their respective regions.

Sabu Raijua Regent Marthen Luther Dira Tome and Poso regency secretary Amdjad Lawasa are also running in their respective regions despite currently undergoing legal processes in corruption cases.

The amounts of money embezzled vary from Rp 340 million (US$25,185) to 77 billion.

Out of 11 people, three are independent nominees and the remaining eight are supported by party coalitions.

Among them, the Golkar Party, Gerindra, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) are behind three of the 11 candidates while the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) nominated two and the United Development Party (PPP), the Crescent Star Party (PBB), Hanura and NasDem support one.

Senior Golkar politician Yorrys Raweyai said that the party faced a dilemma over the candidacies.

'€œWe know that it is of moral concern. However, the Constitution made it possible. Hence, many of our members tried by themselves to fulfill the legal requirements and prove it to us. Moreover, surveys prove their high electability,'€ Yorrys said.

Gerindra vice chairman Sufmi Dasco Ahmad also pointed to the popularity of the candidates as one basis for their nomination.

'€œSurveys among locals proved them to be popular, so let the public decide. Moreover, the candidates have already made an integrity pact with the parties. We also made other calculations too. If they were elected, we would always supervise them,'€ Sufmi said.

Political parties have struggled to compete in 269 elections slated in December. Despite the registration deadline having passed, there are still seven regions that only have one ticket running.

The KPU decided on Thursday to extend the registration from Aug. 9 to Aug. 11, encouraging more candidates to apply.

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Ade Irawan said the graft-related candidates were mostly in the eastern part of Indonesia.

He said the regions were harder to access for the central KPU and central Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) in Jakarta and more prone to money politics, resulting in the nomination of poor-quality candidates.

'€œIn some remote areas, political parties even place their own people to supervise the process or bribe the officials,'€ Ade said. (rbk)

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