Tempted toward fraud, Indonesia needs foreign election monitors

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Political observer Ujang Komarudin. (photo: IO/Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – The popularity of the hashtag “SOS, INA Election Observer SOS” on social media is proof that Indonesia needs election monitors from outside the country. The appearance of the viral hashtag was a result of the desire by the people for an honest and fair election and their concern of the many loopholes for fraud currently and potentially present during the general election on April 17.

The “SOS, INA Election Observer SOS” hashtag is often used by supporters of candidate number 02 presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has been commented on by a number of countries who have stated their readiness to help monitor Indonesia’s election. The General Election Commission (KPU) has given the green light for the involvement of international election monitors. However, with only two weeks left until the election, is that enough?

Political observer Ujang Korudin believes the involvement of foreign election monitors is urgent. “As is stated in Law No. 17/2017 concerning the Election, it is explained that foreign agents may monitor the election. This has been done since 2014. The importance of international monitors will be a second opinion if the KPU, Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu), Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) are deemed to be biased towards one of the candidates. It is hoped that the international monitors will also collaborate with existing election monitors without forgetting their main duty to look out for fraud so the election can be honest and fair,” he explained.

Ujang also stated international election monitors, which were known to be more neutral, were hoped to ease the intensity of conflicts after the election were there found to be any fraud. “If there is fraud, Indonesia’s image in the eyes of the world will be at stake. Just because there is a desire for a candidate to maintain his power should Indonesia be seen poorly in the eye of the world? This is an open war between Jokowi-Amin and Prabowo-Sandi which needs the presence of international monitors,” he added.

The hashtag “SOS, INA Election Observer SOS” would not exist if the people weren’t seeing such blatant indiscretions being carried out by a particular candidate in an attempt to win the election. The incumbent has very visibly implemented various actions such as using state facilities, pushing government employees not to be neutral and support the incumbent, distributing parcels with State Palace printed on them, gathering several regional heads so they would support the incumbent help campaign, to “bribing” government employees with salary reimbursements for January-April 2014 and even planning to pay salaries on the 13th and 14th before the presidential election.

As is known, Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo has stated that government employees can advertise the successes of the government. This is no different than dragging government employees into politics. Other potential violations include campaigns carried out by volunteers. It is difficult to differentiate whether activities done by certain groups are a form of open campaigning or not. With various types of campaign violations which are not all processed by Bawalsu, Panwaslu (Election Oversight Committee), or the DKPP the public is concerned that the elections have already been compromised by parties hoping to retain their power.

Ujang Komarudin stated that the use of government employees and government elites clearly violates the law. According to the law, government employees cannot support a candidate. “They are paid by the government to serve the people. In a bureaucracy it is forbidden to choose a side; they must be neutral. If there is a government employee or government official who carries out any mobilization, movement of the masses, or is involved in campaigning this is a violation and can be processed by the law,” asserted Ujang.

Addressing the massive fraud that is happening and the disregard for it, Ujang believes the Bawaslu, Panwaslu, and DKPP have been performing poorly as they are the ones who should be taking action when there are election violations. “If the Bawaslu isn’t impotent, the various violations taking place by one of the sides should be prosecuted under the law similar to the opposition which has been very severely prosecuted. If the Bawaslu does not carry out its duty, the people can report it to the DKPP which should work professionally and be impartial,” he added.

Lastly, Ujang asserted that if the referees of the election such as the Bawaslu, Panwaslu, and DKPP could not carry out their duty and resolve various reports from the people concerning fraud, and do not put out heavy sanctions then blatant fraud is hard to avoid unless an international election monitor appears, one which is neutral and does not take orders from any side. Only then can an honest and fair election be said to have taken place. (D. Ramdani)