Sunday, May 24, 2015Sunday, May 24, 2015
John Mcbeth, Senior Writer

Indonesian soldiers should have the right to vote

Published on Jun 10, 2014 11:24 AM
A Balinese supporter holds a poster of Indonesia presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto during their campaign in Denpasar on Bali island on June 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

Recent reports that an Indonesian army officer allegedly attempted to persuade civilians in Central Jakarta to vote for former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto in the July 9 presidential election has highlighted some unfinished business in Indonesia's reform process.

By law, the Indonesian Armed Forces cannot be involved in politics. Soldiers are also barred from voting. But if anyone deserves to vote in an election, it is the soldiers who put their lives on the line to preserve national security and to secure the basic freedoms that are supposed to go with a democratic system. They have more right than anyone else.

Don't tell that to Indonesia, though. Indonesian service members were looking forward to taking advantage of a small chink in the door that would have allowed them to vote in the presidential election.

But even that has been denied them, with the Constitutional Court recently ruling in a judicial review that an article in the 2008 Presidential Election Law, only preventing them from voting in the 2009 presidential election, should not be allowed to stand.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!