Sat, 05 Apr 2003

'General elections are like the lottery'

Next year's festival of democracy, the 2004 general election, has gotten off to a shaky start here in Jakarta, with many residents unaware that voter registration for the elections began this month. A number of Jakartans shared their views on next year's election and the state of democracy in Indonesia with The Jakarta Post.

Gani, 36, is a vendor who lives in Warung Buncit, South Jakarta. His wife and four children live in Majalengka, West Java:

Honestly speaking, I didn't know voter registration started this month. I never read newspapers or watch the news on TV.

However, I intend to go home later this month to register. Usually, the field officers will register me in my village.

I promise I will take part in the upcoming general election even though I don't have any idea who I'm voting for. But one thing for sure is that whoever the president is, nothing will change.

I mean, you can predict how our leaders will act: they will forget the people who supported them in the election.

I guess general elections here are like the lottery. You just have to take a guess but you never know if you're right or wrong.

I will vote in the general election and if our leaders turn out to be any good, thank God. But if not, it's my own risk.

Besides, I don't know who to vote for. Frankly, I'm illiterate. I only know how to write my own name, and worse I can't make my signature. So I'll just vote for whoever has the most attractive pictures.

By the way, I don't really care about the general election. It's better just to think about how to feed my family. My family is the top priority.

Suhadi, 30, works as a sidewalk fruit vendor in Simprug, South Jakarta, and lives nearby. His wife and three children live in Pemalang, Central Java:

I knew the voter registration started this week from reading the newspaper. But I don't know anything about the process.

In my opinion, general elections are still important to change the overall situation in the country, regardless of who is elected to lead us.

I personally think that there is nothing special about the upcoming general election. I don't care what political party wins. The most important thing is that our leaders conduct themselves properly and side with the poor. That's all the ordinary people want.

However, the far more important thing is how to keep earning money in the city so I can support my family in the village. I don't have time to think about the general election. I would rather think about how to sell more fruit.

Giman, 50, is a taxi driver who lives in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, with his wife and three children:

I didn't know the voter registration had already started. I don't know anything about the procedure either.

Usually there is notice from the neighborhood association about the registration, but I haven't seen anything. Some field officers usually tell voters how to register.

I want to participate in the upcoming general election. However, I heard that there will be about 200 political parties taking part in the election. I don't know whether or not I will take part in campaign rallies. It depends on what party asks me to join them.

In the general election, I will only vote for well-established or well-known political parties.

After seeing how our civilian leaders lack authority, I'm of the opinion that it would be better to adopt the previous system in which the president came from the military.

It's sad that since the downfall of former president Soeharto, many leaders in the country have lost the respect of the people.

Civilians are no longer afraid of the government, including high-ranking officials. Every day I see people violating traffic regulations without fear, for example. And thugs aren't afraid of anyone, including the police.

When Soeharto was president no one dared act like that. So I think the next president must come from the military, so they can get the respect of the people and make the country safe for all citizens. That hopes motivates me to vote in the elections.

-- Leo Wahyudi S