TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesia will be holding the simultaneous regional elections in 270 regions on December 9. As of last week, the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) has found 306 health protocol violations in over 13,000 face-to-face campaigns across the country. In spite of heavy criticism and fears from numerous sides over potential new Covid-19 clusters that could result from the elections, the General Elections Commission (KPU) confirmed that the elections would proceed according to the schedule.
"We cannot delay the elections any longer. Too much energy has been spent," the KPU Chairman Arief Budiman insisted.
Arief explained to Tempo election-related matters from the tug-of-war over the delay to the issue of Sirekap. The interview was complemented with answers from KPU Commissioner Ilham Saputra who was questioned separately. Ilham was the acting KPU chair during Arief's absence.
Many regional election candidates are still holding face-to-face campaigns. What has the KPU done to prevent new Covid-19 clusters?
A lot, particularly relating to regulations. KPU Regulation No. 10/2020 has a clause on campaigns whereby face-to-face campaigns are allowed only when online campaigns are not feasible. They must obtain permits for a face-to-face campaign, limit the number of attendees, and strictly observe the health protocols. Modes of the campaign, be it general meetings, limited meetings, or public debate must be organized according to regulations. In the past, supporters can march in procession in public debates, but not for this time.
Several candidates have died from coronavirus and health protocol violations during campaigns have resulted in hundreds of new Covid-19 cases in the regions. Doesn't this show that this is not yet an opportune time to hold the elections?
We certainly need support and compliance from many sides to successfully implement the regulations. Regional KPUs must enforce the warning and sanction mechanisms for violations. For administrative violations, they should take action after the Bawaslu has processed the cases. If there are criminal elements, cases should be handed over to the law enforcement authorities after the Bawaslu has processed them.
Actually, we can follow the Covid-19 protocols that have already been stipulated in KPU Regulation No. 13/2020 which supersedes KPU Regulations No. 6 and 10/2020. We prohibit campaigns that can potentially draw large crowds such as (music) concerts, bazaars, and general meetings, and encourage online campaigns as a primary mode of the campaign while allowing face-to-face meetings with a maximum attendance of 50 people including the campaign team. We issued this new KPU regulation after a lot of criticisms following the campaign parades on September 4 to 6. Bawaslu also found 234 violations in the candidate registration process.
Who are responsible to oversee the implementation of the rules stipulated in the said regulation?
The Bawaslu. The Bawaslu has monitoring officials.
Why does the KPU still allow face-to-face campaigns?
Not all the regions have Internet access or are familiar with Zoom, Google Meet, or other social media applications. That's why we still allow face-to-face campaigns for maximum of 50 people, and of course under the strict Covid protocols.
Read the Complete Interview in Tempo English Magazine