Indonesia votes: Watchdog orders revote for 320,000 Indonesians in Malaysia

A man preparing election materials to be distributed to polling stations in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 16, 2019.
A man preparing election materials to be distributed to polling stations in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 16, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

Those in Malaysia who cast ballots via mail must vote again due to alleged vote-rigging

Indonesia's election watchdog said that about 320,000 Indonesians living in Malaysia who cast their ballots via mail should vote again in the presidential and legislative polls, as investigation indicated vote-rigging.

The independent Elections Supervisory Agency, or Bawaslu, yesterday asked the General Elections Commission (KPU) to administer the voting to ensure the integrity of the process. KPU will determine when and how the voting will take place.

Bawaslu also ordered the commission to replace two election committee officials in Malaysia because of a conflict of interest. One of them is Indonesia's deputy ambassador to Malaysia.

The Indonesian authorities are investigating the discovery of thousands of stray postal ballot papers in Selangor last week. Video footage showed people raiding a shophouse and unpacking bags containing marked ballot papers. In one video, people hold up ballot papers that are marked in favour of President Joko Widodo and his running mate, senior cleric Ma'ruf Amin, as well as legislative candidates of a political party backing the incumbent.

Bawaslu commissioner Rahmat Bagja told a media briefing yesterday that the agency "found legal ballot papers that were allegedly marked by non-legitimate voters as well as ballot papers that were not marked" at two locations in Selangor.

"The decision to redo the voting is based on our investigation, in which we interviewed 13 officials, including the ambassador," he added.

Supporters of Mr Joko's sole election rival, former army general Prabowo Subianto, have demanded the recall of ambassador Rusdi Kirana - an ally of the President - for failing to prevent the postal ballots from going astray.

 
 
 
 

Bawaslu had previously filed a query to KPU on why a high-ranking official - a deputy ambassador - was picked as an election committee official in Malaysia. But no follow-up was carried out by KPU, according to Mr Rahmat.

Overseas voting began on April 8 and ended on Sunday. In Indonesia, more than 190 million people are expected to cast their votes today.

Indonesian voters in Malaysia, like those in other countries, could opt to cast votes by mail or at a polling station. They can visit the main polling station in Kuala Lumpur or go to certain designated spots in Malaysia.

There are 1.1 million eligible voters in Malaysia, the biggest group of overseas Indonesian voters.

Bawaslu yesterday also ordered KPU to administer an extended election for registered Indonesian voters in Sydney, who did not cast their ballots because election committee members there closed up shop earlier than expected.

The agency also said it was working with the Indonesian police on 25 cases of money politics, after hundreds of millions of rupiah in cash meant to influence voting decisions was confiscated in Indonesia.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Watchdog orders revote for 320,000 Indonesians'. Print Edition | Subscribe