Indonesia gears up to fight 'cash politics'

JAKARTA • The Indonesian authorities are preparing measures to prevent vote-buying and corruption as the 2018 simultaneous regional elections draw near.

These measures will largely be in the hands of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), mandated by the 2011 Election Organisers Law to prevent violations and sanction those guilty of activities such as vote-buying.

Around 160 million voters in 171 regions - 17 provinces, 39 cities and 115 regencies - will head to the polls on June 27 in the biggest single-day election to be held in Indonesia.

Bawaslu commissioner Mochammad Afifuddin has vowed to strengthen cooperation with several agencies, such as the National Police and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), in tackling violations.

"These institutions will work based on their authority in preventing money politics. For example, the PPATK will help us track suspicious bank accounts," Mr Afifuddin told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Each candidate is required to submit his or her wealth report to the General Elections Commission upon registering for the election. As of Wednesday evening, more than 1,120 candidates had submitted their wealth reports.

Concerns over vote-buying reappeared recently when businessman La Nyalla Mattalitti alleged that Gerindra Party chief Prabowo Subianto had asked him to pay 40 billion rupiah (S$3.9 million) in return for the party's endorsement of his gubernatorial bid in East Java. The party has denied the accusation, saying it never asked candidates to pay what is widely known as mahar politik (political dowry). Mr La Nyalla later retracted his claim, but not before Bawaslu launched its investigation.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Indonesia gears up to fight 'cash politics''. Print Edition | Subscribe