Public trust drops, KPU announces 2020 Regional Elections to be entirely independent

KPU Chairman Arief Budiman. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – The corruption case involving former Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU”) Commissioner Wahyu Setiawan was a heavy blow to the level of public trust in the electoral organization agency. KPU Chairman Arief Budiman admitted that surveys show that the level of public trust for KPU has dropped vastly from that of previous years. He believes that this can be linked to Wahyu’s arrest in a Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”) event in early January of this year. “In the past, the level of trust has always been above 80%. The latest I read is that trust has dipped in several places, but is still over 70%,” he said when Independent Observer met him at his office in Jalan Imam Bonjol, Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday (18/02/2020). 

A SMRC Survey in May 2017, when previous members of KPU and Elections Monitoring Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilihan Umum – “Bawaslu”) were decommissioned on 14 April and the new members appointed on 17 April, showed the level of public trust in electoral organizers at 80%. However, LSI and ICW surveys in December 2018 show that public trust level is below 70%: trust in Bawaslu was 69% while in KPU was 68%, or down 10%. 

However, Arief reiterates that his colleague’s misfortune does not affect KPU’s policies in any way. He confirms that any policy made will still be in line with applicable rules and regulations. He further reminds all regional electoral organizers – whether the provincial, regency, or municipal parts – to continue maintaining public trust by implementing policies in line with the rules. “We, the KPU show our independence when we make policies and decisions – everything is done independently. We do not move on orders from anyone else, or for fear of pressure from others, or for incentives from others. All KPU policies are in line with applicable rules and regulations,” he affirmed. 

In order to preserve integrity throughout KPU, Arief has socialized with Agency management at both central and regional levels. “We held a national meeting the other day. We invited all chairmen, members, and secretaries of KPU provincial branches,” he said. 

Arief further requested that provincial, regency, and municipal electoral organizers not create their own unique policies, but do so jointly in plenary meetings. He also requests that regional KPUs remain professional and preserve their integrity by following the standards made according to applicable regulations. “What matters is that we all should work with full integrity. We say it “right” when it’s right, “wrong” when it’s wrong. We must do everything according to rules,” he said. “We must work transparently by opening access to the public as much as possible. We must also work professionally, meaning that we need to understand the organization of elections thoroughly, especially the 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections on 23 September in 270 regions. Finally, again I say, we need to ensure that nothing we do not violates any applicable rule or regulation.” 

Earlier, Coordinator of Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW)’s Political Corruption Division Donal Fariz stated that Wahyu’s case would definitely erode public trust in KPU. Therefore, ICW suggests that KPU should immediately take internal improvement steps to prevent the reoccurrence of any such practice. One of the ways KPU can do this is by cooperating with KPK to establish internal WBS (whistleblower system) in provincial, regency, and municipal KPU offices. “This is a step that we can take as an effort toward internal control and prevention,” he said. 

Similar with Donal, Association for Elections and Democracy (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi – “Perludem”) Executive Director Titi Anggraini believes that KPU should make use of the momentum gained through the 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections to restore public trust towards it, after the heavy blow it suffered thanks to the arrest of its Commissioner in a corruption case. 

Titi further stated that in order to return public trust, everyone in KPU must demonstrate their best performance and achievements. There must be a thorough evaluation of the existing integrity system in KPU, and internal monitoring must be tightened in order to prevent violations and cheating. KPU is also expected to cooperate with KPK and relevant agencies, such as the Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis Center (Pusat Pelaporan dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan – “PPATK”), the Ombudsman, and anti-corruption NGOs such as Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), Transparency International Indonesia (TII), and the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Forum Indonesia untuk Transparansi Anggaran – “FITRA”). “The results of such joint evaluations should be able to generate more effective schemes for preventing cheating and corruption practices within KPU,” she said. (D. Ramdani)