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INDONESIA POLLS: Campaign violations overwhelm watchdogs

Publication Date : 25-03-2014


Indonesian election watchdogs say they have been overwhelmed by the scale of violations since campaigning for the April 9 general election began a week ago.

These range from campaign advertisements that do not meet requirements to using children to campaign, both of which are prohibited by law. The latter offence carries a maximum punishment of five years' jail and a 100 million rupiah (US$8,800) fine.

Indonesian Child Protection Commission chairman Asrorun Niam last Wednesday said it had reported all 12 political parties to Bawaslu, the national election supervisory board, for failing to prevent their supporters from taking their children to campaign events, the Jakarta Post reported.

The Prosperous Justice Party is said to have the most children involved in its campaign.

Its president Anis Matta had said in a TV interview that exposure at an early age would help the children "feel for the party".

But Bawaslu member Nelson Simanjuntak told The Straits Times that open campaigns are not suitable for children who "may be psychologically affected by the strong rhetoric".

He acknowledged, however, that enforcement is difficult because it is usually parents who flout the rule, and not the parties.

In Bengkulu City in Sumatra, six of the 12 political parties have been told off by the provincial election watchdog for breaching advertising regulations.

In Yogyakarta, Bantul regency's election watchdog spotted 5,200 campaign displays that flouted regulations, said Jakarta Post.

The General Election Commission has ruled that billboards used by political parties cannot display pictures of their candidates.

Campaign material can be displayed only in designated zones and each party or candidate is allowed only a certain number of displays in each electoral district.

"The violations here are so massive our financial and manpower resources cannot cope," head of the Yogyakarta watchdog Muhammad Najib told Jakarta Post.

Other violations include giving out "door prizes" such as motorcycles and LCD television sets to "lucky" supporters, vote-buying and roping in civil servants, who are required by law to be neutral, to campaign.

Nelson said he has also received reports of officials using government facilities for campaigning, and that Bawaslu is looking into the matter.


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