Friday, January 12, 2007

Voters skeptical about legislation on gubernatorial election

Friday, January 12, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

People are skeptical that the House of Representatives will pass a bill on the administration of Jakarta that serves the reelection needs of politicians.

"There is nothing new about our legislature. They pass laws on certain issues, pretending to serve the people, but actually they are manipulating the situation to their own advantage,"
Rizal, a state-owned enterprise employee from Cipete Utara, South Jakarta, said recently.

The special committee is now debating the merits of electoral methods for selecting a governor for Jakarta in 2007.

The first approach proposed is direct elections based on competition among candidates from all the legally recognized political parties, while the other two would limit participation to only parties that have 15 to 30 percent of the seats on the City Council.

Rizal said the three electoral methods proposed by the special committee would curb people's voting rights because the gubernatorial candidate mix would be limited to supposedly safe candidates.

"I don't care what kind of law they want to pass, as long it enables people to freely participate in the election," said Sumitro, a pensioner from Ragunan.

He suggested allowing independent candidates to be nominated and placed on the ballot at the gubernatorial election, but was doubtful of public support for the move.

The bill, which is currently being deliberated at the House, is designed to replace a 1999 law on the administration of Jakarta, which is seen as being the barometer for other regions in relation to local election processes.

Erna, a stay-at-home mom who lives on Jl. Radio Dalam, South Jakarta, said political parties' disagreement over the election administration reflected the system's inability to speak to the needs of working people.

"They only think about who is going to be governor, and are not necessarily thinking of the people,"
she said.

Nine out of 11 people interviewed by The Jakarta Post said the electoral method did not really matter, as long as the elected candidate was responsive to the needs of the people.

Some people, however, said they did not even know when the election was going to take place.

"I don't mind who they elect so long as her or she improves the quality of life in Jakarta," said Paul from Cipete.

A number of people said they would like to see independent candidates applying for places on the ballot.
"What about people with real potential who are not nominated by any party?"
said university student Cornelia.
"There are lots of good people out there, but they might not be interested in any of the parties because they think politicians are a self-absorbed bunch."

However, around half of the people interviewed said they doubted the House would accept the idea of independent candidates.

"The House will not allow such candidates because that would narrow their chances of gaining political power,"
said Chairul, a businessman from Kebayoran Baru, who preferred the third choice requiring a 30 percent party representation, proposed by the special committee, saying it would curb political adventurism. (02)

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