Indonesia presidential election: Indonesians in Singapore cast votes at embassy

Ekamarliah, 27, a domestic helper, has purple ink on her finger as a mark that she has voted. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 
Ekamarliah, 27, a domestic helper, has purple ink on her finger as a mark that she has voted. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 
The line to get into the Indonesian embassy to place their votes.  -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The line to get into the Indonesian embassy to place their votes.  -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Indonesians in Singapore vote in presidential elections. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Indonesians in Singapore vote in presidential elections. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Indonesians in Singapore vote in presidential elections. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Indonesians in Singapore vote in presidential elections. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Indonesian ambassador to Singapore Andri Hadi and his wife at the voting booths. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 
Indonesian ambassador to Singapore Andri Hadi and his wife at the voting booths. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 
Indonesians taking photographs outside the voting stations after they have placed their votes. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 
Indonesians taking photographs outside the voting stations after they have placed their votes. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN 

SINGAPORE - Indonesians in Singapore queued up patiently at their embassy on Sunday morning to cast their votes in one of Indonesia's most closely-contested presidential elections.

They were among the two million registered overseas voters who will pick either Jakarta governor Joko Widodo or former military general Prabowo Subianto as the seventh president of South-east Asia's biggest economy.

"We hope the winner will make Indonesia on the same level like other countries, like Singapore," said Mr Satria, 60, who is retired and living in Singapore.

His views reflected the hope of a dozen voters that The Straits Times spoke to on the grounds of the Indonesian Embassy.

While overseas voters cast their ballots a few days earlier, the 190 million registered voters in the vast archipelago with three time zones will vote on Wednesday.

Sunday is the start of the three-day cooling-off period where campaigning is banned, following a month of busy campaign travels for the two candidates.

According to pollsters in Indonesia, Mr Joko was leading Mr Prabowo by between 3 and 7 percentage points - a gap that has narrowed sharply in the past two months.

The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, anticipating an increase in voter turnout, has set up a total of 36 polling stations on its premises, where voting started at 8am and will end at 6pm on Sunday.

The mission is also providing shuttle buses from Redhill MRT station and Tanjong Katong Complex near Geylang Serai - where many Indonesians like to gather on weekends - to the embassy at Chatsworth Road.

Indonesia's ambassador to Singapore, Andri Hadi, said he expects a voter turnout of 15,000 on Sunday - higher than the 13,000 who cast their ballots at the embassy in the April legislative elections.

There are over 108,341 registered voters in Singapore, with some 17,094 who have confirmed they will vote by post.

As of last Friday, some 10,000 postal votes have been returned to the embassy.

"The elections are very tight so whatever the turnout figure it will be very important," said Mr Andri, who mingled with the voters and posed for pictures after casting his vote.

The first Indonesians to vote in this presidential elections were those in 19 other cities, mostly in the Middle East, who cast ballots on Friday which is a weekly rest day in that region.

Voters in peninsular Malaysia voted in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru on Saturday while voters in Sabah and Sarawak cast their votes in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching on Sunday.

reme@sph.com.sg

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