The Jakarta Post
The General Elections Commission (KPU) has announced that it will allow candidates to use personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer as campaign props during the 2020 simultaneous regional elections in December.
KPU chairman Arief Budiman said that candidates would be allowed to print their faces and names on hand sanitizer bottles, masks and face shields.
"Candidates usually use T-shirts or hats [as campaign props], but [this year] we'll also allow the use of hand sanitizers and masks," Arief said on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.
He said the suggestion about using PPE as campaign props came from the Home Ministry and had been approved by members of House of Representatives Commission II overseeing home affairs on Monday.
According to Arief, during Monday's meeting, members of Commission II had also asked the KPU to increase the number of participants allowed to attend physical mass campaigns to 100 from 50.
The Home Ministry's acting director general for regional administration development, Safrizal, expressed the hope that the decision to use PPE as campaign props would help curb the spread of COVID-19 during the elections.
"If all candidates use masks as campaign props and each voter receives two masks, it means around 210 masks will be distributed to the public," Safrizal said.
"It would contribute greatly to decreasing the COVID-19 transmissions risks," he added.
Arief said members of the House had advised the KPU to make the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic the main theme of the election campaigns.
"We expect candidates to integrate strategies to fight COVID-19 in their visions and missions," he said.
Critics have urged policymakers to push back the elections to 2021 over fears the COVID-19 outbreak could continue late into the year – and even beyond it – and put voters and election organizers at risk of contracting the disease.
They also expressed concern about low voter turnout should the outbreak in the country show no signs of abating, thus discouraging people from showing up at polling stations.
However, the KPU insisted that health protocols and their strict implementation would be sufficient to protect voters and KPU officers from infection during the elections, which will be held simultaneously in the country's 270 regions, with polling day scheduled for Dec. 9. (nal)