The Jakarta Post
The chairman of the South Tangerang General Elections Commission (KPU South Tangerang), Bambang Dwitoro, died from COVID-19 on Saturday after a week of hospital treatment and shortly after the region took part in the 2020 regional elections.
KPU South Tangerang commissioner Ade Wahyu Hidayat confirmed the death on Saturday.
“We express our condolences over the death of Bambang Dwitoro, the chairman of KPU South Tangerang,” he said as reported by kompas.com.
Acting chairman of the agency M. Taufik also confirmed that Bambang had tested positive for COVID-19.
He said the positive result came from his swab sample through a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on Dec. 5, four days before the election took place on Wednesday.
“Since then he was admitted to a hospital in South Tangerang for self-isolation,” he said.
Taufik said his office made the decision to announce that Bambang had contracted COVID-19 the day after the election due to concerns over low voter turnout.
“If we had made the announcement before voting day, voter participation would have dropped drastically upon hearing that the KPU chairman was infected with COVID-19,” he said.
He said that the commissioners did not mean to cover up any cases of coronavirus transmission within the agency, while also reiterating that his office had taken the necessary preventive measures and adhered to strict health protocols.
“Please understand, this is about the state of public psychology. It does not mean we covered it up,” he said.
He said that since Bambang’s test result came out, KPU South Tangerang had yet to conduct contact tracing. The agency would carry out PCR testing among all commissioners and employees next Tuesday.
South Tangerang is among 270 regions that took part in the regional elections on Wednesday. The mayoral election in the Jakarta satellite city has been deemed important, with political analysts saying the winners could potentially be worth watching on the national political stage.
The government had insisted on proceeding with the regional elections amid a stream of criticism from experts and civil society groups over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts have warned that the elections, from the preparation stage to the campaigns and voting day, risk furthering transmission. (ami)