Despite multiple violations, Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms opposes revocation of civil servants’ voting rights

Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Tjahjo Kumolo. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – Despite the neutrality of civil servants being questioned every time we hold a political contest, despite the fact that civil servants consistently violate stipulated neutrality in Presidential, Legislative, or Regional Elections, Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms Tjahjo Kumolo remains reluctant to revoke the voting rights of civil servants. Head of the Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilu – “Bawaslu”)’s Monitoring and Socializing Division, Mochammad Afifuddin, reports that 700 civil servants to date are involved in violations, specifically neutrality violations, nearing the 2020 Regional Elections.

“True, we still need to work on the neutrality of civil in elections. However, I personally disagree to revoke their voting right as sug-” “gested by some, because one of the characteristics of mature democratic countries is civil supremacy,” Tjahjo said in an online discussion broadcast by the Ministry of Administrative and Bureau¬cra¬tic Reforms’  YouTube  channel  on Tuesday (27/10/2020).

Tjahjo stated that it is fine for civil servants to determine their choice  when  voting.  However, outside of the booth, they should not express which candidate gets their support, in order to maintain their dignity and sovereignty as servants of the nation. He believes that the Government only needs to strengthen the rules that regulate the neutrality of civil servants. After all, the potential of neutrality violation comes from individual civil servants themselves: “Many of them still fail to understand the” “idea of neutrality. They maintain a wrong paradigm, mindset, and culture. They keep on saying that ‘It’s dilemmatic being civil servants – we get hit whether we go forward, back, or remain neutral.’ Perhaps it is not really the case, because the rules are clear,” he said.

Tjahjo then described the four major neutrality violations performed by civil servants in Regional Elections: First, they help to put up posters and otherwise participate in political party campaigns. Second, they register themselves as candidate regional heads, participate in the declaration of regional head candidacy, post and share posts about their preferred regional head candidates in social media, and mobilize other civil servants to support their preferred regional candidate. Third, they participate in campaigning for their preferred candidate, facilitate their candidate’s campaigns, and post and share posts about their preferred regional head candidates in social. Fourth, they participate in the victory celebration of their preferred regional candidate.

“Neutrality violations by civil servants frequently occur because the sanctions for these violations are  weak.  I  urge  Bawaslu,  the State’s Civil Apparatus Commission (Komisi Aparatur Sipil Negara – “KASN”), to uphold these sanctions objectively according to existing rules and regulations in order to ensure true neutrality among civil servants,” he said.

The current regulations preserve the voting rights of citizens who are civil servants. Law Number 10 of 2016 only prohibits civil servants from providing preferential treatment to any candidate in the rules and budgets that they manage. Unlike civil servants, military and police state apparatuses do not have voting rights. Their right to vote and be voted for is curtailed by several laws.  (Dan)