Fri, 19 Mar 1999

KPU passes controversial internal campaign ruling

JAKARTA (JP): The General Elections Commission (KPU), which is in charge of preparing the June 7 poll, decided on Wednesday to allow its 53 members and the National Elections Committee (PPI) to be both party activists and legislators.

KPU chairman Rudini declined to reveal how the ruling was arrived at and said, "It has been decided that representatives of political parties in the election commission are allowed to campaign for their parties and nominate themselves as legislators... And we should respect this."

Andi Alfian Mallarangeng, a government representative in the commission, said he was forced to accept the decision, despite potential conflict of interest, having waged an all-out battle to bar KPU members from campaigning.

"I believe KPU and PPI members should be barred from campaigning and becoming legislators. In this way we will ensure a free and fair general election.

"Subsequent to this decision they would face a conflict of interest because they would both be referees and players in the elections," he told The Jakarta Post after the commission's plenary session here on Wednesday.

Andi revealed the ruling was a response to a threatened boycott by a majority of party representatives in the commission.

"Government representatives in the commission could not do anything but bow to the pressure of the party representatives," he said.

He conceded, however, the five government representatives -- whose voting power equals that of the 48 party representatives -- could utilize a veto if they wished.

Indria Samego, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Science, has said this is problematic.

It poses a dilemma because it was democratically arrived at and is therefore impossible to retract, but this ruling would compromise the neutrality of the commission members and from carrying out their tasks full time," he said.

PPI Chairman Yacob Tobing, who represents the Indonesian Party of Struggle, lauded the decision. He said "theoretically" it was not wrong to allow KPU members to campaign for their parties in the next campaign season.

"Political parties have sent their representatives to the election commission in order to fight for their interests and it is not wrong if they campaign and, become candidates," he said.

Rudini went on to say the election commission has also set up three sub-commissions to deliberate general planning and budgeting, organization and legislation, and data evaluation respectively.

He said the commission on organization and legislation would deliberate the ruling on campaigns and on so-called money politics.

"The deliberation on the two rulings is expected to be completed within three days," he said.

Yacob said his committee was still awaiting political parties to send in their lists of representatives, before the body set sup provincial and regional offices.

"We are giving seven days until March 25 to parties to nominate their representatives, including to provincial and regional committees," he said.

His deputies are Hasballah of the National Mandate Party (PAN), Anak Agung Oka Mahendra and Djuhad Mahja of the United Development Party (PPP) while the PPI secretary is Rasyidi of the Solidarity for All-Indonesian Workers Party.

The committee comprises 48 people from political parties and five government representatives. (rms)