Indonesia's General Elections Commission (KPU) visited Selangor, Malaysia, yesterday to investigate the discovery of thousands of ballot papers that had allegedly been illegally marked in favour of incumbent Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is seeking re-election.
Overseas voting for either Mr Joko or his sole rival, former army general Prabowo Subianto, began on Monday and will end tomorrow, while at-home voters go to the ballot box next Wednesday.
There are 1.1 million eligible Indonesian voters in Malaysia, the biggest group of Indonesian voters overseas. The voters in Malaysia can vote only tomorrow.
Video footage showing people raiding a shophouse in Selangor has been making the rounds on social media. They were seen unpacking bags containing marked ballot papers. In one video, people held up papers showing that they were marked in favour of Mr Joko and his running mate, senior cleric Ma'ruf Amin, and legislative candidates of a political party backing the incumbent.
The KPU team left for Malaysia early yesterday morning, carrying with them a scanner that can check whether ballot papers are genuine or counterfeit, Mr Viryan Aziz, a KPU commissioner, told reporters.
"All ballot papers have a hidden feature that only KPU knows and can check using a special device. We will do the checks transparently before Bawaslu and other relevant parties," Mr Viryan said.
Bawaslu is short for Elections Supervisory Agency, an independent body that oversees KPU, handles election disputes and ensures the process is carried out in a fair and transparent manner.
It also monitors abuse of power by public officials and ensures candidates do not employ unfair practices to influence an election result.
"This afternoon, the team in Malaysia will do all factual data checks and in the evening will meet all relevant parties," KPU chief commissioner Arief Budiman told Jakarta-based Elshinta radio yesterday, adding that the team will be back in Jakarta today to discuss the findings.
Final push before Indonesians head to polls
CALL FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS
• Representatives and leaders from six religious groups in Indonesia yesterday called for a peaceful election next Wednesday when more than 192 million voters head to the presidential and legislative polls. Although the country is home to the world's largest Muslim population, it remains a secular state and also recognises Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism as official religions.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
• President Joko Widodo and vice-presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin will be headlining the last rally of their campaign today. Held at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, the event has been pitched as a concert for Mr Joko's supporters as well as his army of volunteers.
• Later in the evening, they will face off with presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno at the fifth and final election debate, which takes place at The Sultan Hotel. All four candidates will field questions on the economy, social welfare, finance and investment, and trade and industry.
WHAT DO SURVEYS SHOW?
• Results released yesterday by pollsters Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC), and Lingkaran Survei Indonesia (LSI) Denny JA again show Mr Joko and Dr Ma'ruf with a clear lead over their rivals.
• Of the 2,285 eligible voters surveyed by SMRC from April 5 to 8, 56.8 per cent said they would vote for the President. That is almost 20 percentage points more than what Mr Prabowo and Mr Sandiaga scored in the same poll.
• Mr Joko and Dr Ma'ruf also bested their rivals in the LSI survey of 2,000 respondents from April 4 to 9, garnering a range of 55.9-65.8 per cent of the support, while the challengers recorded 34.2-44.1 per cent.
Mr Arief and colleagues said the ballot papers were found at a privately owned shophouse but should have been stored at the Indonesian embassy.
"We will make sure whoever is at fault behind this would be held responsible. But let's follow the process first," Mr Arief said, stressing that if any KPU members are implicated, it will take harsh measures.
Mr Joko told reporters yesterday that it is within the jurisdiction of Bawaslu to handle the case, and appealed to the independent agency to carry out its investigation "thoroughly and promptly".
"Let them check and do investigation - Bawaslu as well as the police. If anything is breached, Bawaslu can take action," said Mr Joko.
"If there is crime, police must be firm and enforce the law. This is so the election is held honestly and fairly. Don't let this case worry the people."
Rival candidate Prabowo's running mate, Mr Sandiaga Uno, also called for an expeditious investigation to be completed prior to next Wednesday's polls so voters would not lose confidence.
"This would be a litmus test on whether justice is upheld, whether the law is sharp against the opposition camp but dull towards the incumbent," Mr Sandiaga told reporters while on the campaign trail in Palembang, South Sumatra.
"This incident really revived public distrust towards the current process of democracy. The law must be enforced against those that marked the ballot papers and the people that would benefit from the action."