Fri, 05 Dec 2003

KPU issues guidelines for recruiting legislative candidates

Tiarma Siboro and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has issued guidelines on recruiting legislative candidates for political parties participating in the 2004 elections.

KPU chairman Nazaruddin Syamsuddin said on Thursday that the guidelines aimed at netting qualified individuals through a democratic and transparent process.

"These are a very important guidelines for political parties as they must screen their legislative candidates through a democratic and transparent process," Nazaruddin said.

According to the guidelines, the maximum number of legislative candidates a political party may propose is 120 percent of the seats contested. Each party is also urged to allocate 30 percent of its legislative seats to female candidates as suggested in the Election Law.

It also stipulates that a legislative candidate must, among other things, be an Indonesian citizen of at least 21 years of age and reside in Indonesia, be able to speak, read and write in Indonesia and possess at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.

"The requirements to speak, read and write in Indonesian are not made to limit the political rights of disabled citizens who have the capability to carry out the tasks of a legislator," the guidelines state.

A candidate must not be linked whatsoever to the outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), must have no criminal conviction of more than five years, and must produce a clean bill of health, be an eligible voter and a member of political party.

A number of election watchdogs, however, criticized the KPU on Thursday for not defining "democratic and transparent process" clearly.

Smita Nososusanto from the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) suggested that the KPU give parties more time to select their legislative candidates to allow public participation in the selection process.

"The new regulation makes the selection process of legislative candidates prone to money politics as parties will only propose candidates who are able to buy votes," she told a press conference on Thursday.

In a bid to prevent vote-buying during the selection of legislative candidates, some watchdogs have established a network to collect data on the track records of each politician.

Teten Masduki, who leads the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), said on Thursday that the network had already set up offices in eight regions.

The eight regions are Padang in West Sumatra, Bandung in West Java, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara, Mataram in West Nusa Tenggara, Lampung, Samarinda in East Kalimantan, Pontianak in West Kalimantan and Makassar in South Sulawesi.

"They (the watchdogs) must not hesitate to tell the public about violations committed by legislative aspirants, including corruption charges, domestic violence or sexual harassment and rights abuses," Teten said.

Separately, National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) governor Ermaya Suradinata said that stability in the country would be critical ahead of the 2004 elections, and that the elections might not eventuate if people remained unaware of the critical situation.

He named six problems the country would face ahead of the elections: the nation's political culture, which tends to put personal interests above national interests; the lack of political communication among the elite; poor performance of the political elite, making it difficult for people to identify qualified figures; the increasing number of apathetic people; worsening security across the country, especially in the Central Sulawesi town of Poso, as well as in Papua and Aceh; and the poor performance of legal enforcers, especially in dealing with cases thought to have a political connection.

"Therefore, I suggest the political elite set a forum to share ideas over the aim of this nation," Ermaya said.