Jakarta — Indonesia will next Wednesday (27/6) hold simultaneous elections of governors, district heads and city mayors – and their deputies – in 13 provinces, 115 districts and 39 cities across the country. While authorities and many in the public are giving an unusually special attention to the so-called ‘Pilkada Serentak’, so far, no serious incidents relating to the simultaneous regional elections have been reported. The result of the occasions are widely perceived as crucial for the April 2019 legislative and presidential elections.
On next year’s presidential election, the political atmosphere is now heating up. Political parties or coalitions of parties are making final preparations to declare and submit their presidential and vice-presidential candidates to the General Election Commission (KPU) by this August 2018.
As for next Wednesday, the government had taken special anticipatory measures to guarantee smooth elections. In fact, similar elections had been smoothly held in 2015 and 2017 and will be carried out in 2022, 2023 and 2027. The 2015 simultaneous elections were the first of the total seven rounds until 2027. Meanwhile, those simultaneous regional head elections are said to be the first model ever adopted in the world. Security authorities had apparently foreseen potential threats that may disrupt the elections in certain provinces. For this, the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is responsible for the elections, had prepared special measures.
Recently, Home Affairs Minister Tjahyo Kumolo had appointed and installed two police generals as acting governors of North Sumatra and West Java, respectively. Two-star Insp. Gen. Mochammad Iriawan, who is National Police Chief’s operation assistant, took over from West Java Governor Achmad Heryawan whose five-year office term ended on 13 June of this year. Meanwhile, Insp. Gen. Martuani Sormin Siregar, Head of the National Police Headquarters’ Profession and Security Provision Division, temporarily serves as North Sumatra governor, replacing Governor Erry Nuradi who ended his term on 17 June 2018. Next Wednesday’s elections are expected to turn out new governors and vice governors for those two provinces.
The appointment those two generals had incited protests from some in the public, including politicians and NGO leaders, who claimed that giving gubernatorial, district head and city mayor posts to police officers violated existing laws. In fact, similar complaints had come up early this year when Minister Tjahyo Kumolo first aired his intention to give Mochammad Iriawan and Martuani Sormin Siregar the acting governor posts. West Java and North Sumatra are among the 13 provinces which will elect governors and vice governors next Wednesday.
Those protesters argued that the Home Affairs Minister’s move not only contradicted existing laws, which they said as disallowing active military and police officers to even serve as acting regional administrators, but also that his policy was meant to support the political interests of certain parties. According to them, the two police generals could easily use their power to guarantee victory for certain candidates in West Java’s and North Sumatra’s elections while existing laws dictate any security officials in those areas to remain neutral in any such elections.
Meanwhile, as reported by Kompas daily, Minister Tjahyo Kumolo defended his decision on grounds that that existing laws do allow any active police officers to serve as acting governors, and acting district heads and city mayors. The article mentioned Law No. 5 Year 2014 on State Civil Apparatus Law, Law No. 2 Year 2002 on the National Police, and No. 10 Year 2016 on Regional Elections to support his argument. These laws allow active police officers to serve as acting regional administrators pending the inauguration of the definitive ones.
In addition, Minister Tjahyo Kumolo said he had previously appointed an army major general and a two-star police general as acting governors for Aceh and West Sulawesi, respectively, with no one airing any complaint against it. Others who support the minister’s decision reminded that a number of active police officers had so far been given well-placed positions at other agencies like the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) – inciting no protest from the public.
On the other hand, House members from opposition parties are reportedly mobilizing lawmakers to launch an inquiry – known as Hak Angket – into Minister Tjahyo Kumolo’s decision. Meanwhile, Minister Tjahyo said his office and the State Secretariat had carefully considered all the legal basis for Mochammad Iriawan’s and Martuani Nuradi Siregar’s appointments before submitting their recommendations to President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo for approval.
“If these appointments contradict existing laws, I am ready to be held responsible to the President,” Minister Tjahyo Kumolo said, according to a Kompas daily report. And, the public have yet to see whether those lawmakers seeking support for ‘Hak Angket’ will succeed with their efforts as many had of late perceived opposition lawmakers of loving to fabricate as many new issues as possible just to weaken the popular President Jokowi’s reelection chances.