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Thousands of HK-based Indonesians unable to vote

Publication Date : 07-07-2014


Thousands of eligible Indonesian migrant voters were unable to cast their votes in Hong Kong on Sunday after the local organiser closed the polling station while many aspiring voters were still lining up to vote.

In its press statement, Migrant Care said migrant workers were staging a rally at the polling station in Victoria Park, a popular hang out for Indonesian workers.

“Most of them were not registered and the station had to close early because its rented time had already expired,” said the NGO in the statement.

“Migrant Care demand the local organiser in Hong Kong and the General Elections Commission [KPU] facilitate the rights of the migrant workers to vote,” said the NGO.

According to Migrant Care, the number of registered voters in Hong Kong surged to 23,863 from 6,973.

As Indonesia entered the cooling-off period on Sunday following a monthlong presidential campaign, voters overseas began casting their ballots in more than 130 cities around the world.

In Washington DC, 850 Indonesians residing around the US capital cast their votes for the 2014 presidential election at the polling station located at the Wisma Indonesia, the Indonesian Embassy in US said in a press release.

Indonesian citizens in the US cast their votes at polling stations on Saturday, except those living around Chicago, Illinois, where the polling stations were open for voters on Sunday.

“Many Indonesian voters in DC came with their family members because it was the US Independence Day holiday,” said the release.

Among prominent figures who came to cast their votes was former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who is now World Bank managing director.

Indonesians who were unable to directly cast their votes at polling stations could send their ballots by mail or via drop boxes, by July 14, the embassy said.

The Indonesian Ambassador to the US, Budi Bowoleksono, officially opened the voting in Washington. Observers from nine independent organizations, including the Cape Organization for the Rights of the Disabled (CORD), the McCain Institute for International Leadership, the International Foundation for
Electoral Systems and the International Republican Institute, came to the polling station, which was open from 10am to 8 pmon Saturday.

The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said in a prepared statement on Sunday that 8,900 Indonesians had cast their votes in around 60 polling stations.

The voter turnout was relatively small compared to the total number of eligible voters, registered at 420,643, the embassy said. The embassy added that 68,962 people were expected to cast their ballots at polling stations, 106,374 via drop boxes and 246,626 via the mail.

“Balloting via the mail and drop box are possible for voters who reside outside Kuala Lumpur such as in Selangor, Putrajaya, Perak and Terengganu. We expect that voters will send back the ballot papers by July 14,” a statement from the embassy said.

The Indonesian Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said that as of Saturday evening, the deadline for voting, 7,746 voters had cast their ballots at polling stations provided throughout Jeddah, up from the previous 6,427 voters in the April 9 legislative election.

Even though overseas balloting is being held ahead of the July 9 polling day in Indonesia, the vote counting at polling stations will only be conducted after the nationwide election is finished.

The KPU has registered 188.26 million domestic voters and 2.03 million overseas voters for the 2014 presidential election.

On Sunday, Jokowi left the country to perform umrah (minor haj pilgrimage) in Mecca, while his rival the Gerindra Party’s Prabowo Subianto opted for an iftar (breaking the fast) dinner at a hotel in Central Jakarta.

Jokowi traveled to Mecca with his wife Iriana, son Gibran Rakabuming and his daughter, his spokesman Usama Hisyam said.

“The entourage consists of 14 people in total including the former chairman of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama [NU], Hasyim Muzadi. They flew by commercial airline,” Usama said.

Separately in Jakarta, after holding the iftar dinner with Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, as well as a number of other prominent figures, Prabowo joined a mass prayer with a number of Muslim clerics, senior members of coalition political parties as well as scores of young orphans on Sunday evening.

Other Prabowo-Hatta coalition party executives attending the iftar dinner festive were Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Anis Matta, Fahri Hamzah of PKS and Golkar deputy chairman Fadel Muhammad.

During the cooling-off period from July 6 to 8, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates are prohibited from conducting any form of activities deemed to be political campaigning.

Any activities encouraging people to vote for a candidate is considered a violation of election regulations.

Meanwhile, Jokowi’s running mate Jusuf Kalla is expected to spend the next two days in his hometown of Makassar, South Sulawesi.

“After a long campaign period, it is time to take a rest. Pak Jokowi will perform the umrah, while I will be off to Makassar to spend the cooling-off period,” Kalla said.


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