Law No.10 of Year 2016 requires incumbent candidate who participates in election in the electoral district where he/she administers to take leaves during campaign period. The Governor of the Jakarta Province, Basuki Tjahaja Poernama (Ahok), tries to put this provision under a judicial review at the Constitutional Court (MK) because, as he said, he is working on an important task regarding Regional State Budget (APBD). A researcher from the National Secretariat of the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra), Apung Widadi, explained the importance of the provision:
Is it acceptable that an incumbent candidate refuse to take campaign leaves because he/she has works to do?
It is not acceptable. This is about ethics. First, and foremost, the incumbent candidate is a public official. Secondly, the campaign leaves provision has been implemented for a long time. As an incumbent, Ahok should have realize that he might be participating as a candidate in the 2017 election. Therefore, the budgetary work should not be an excuse to refuse to take campaign leaves because he should have prepare it from long ago.
What do you mean by prepare the budgetary work?
Incumbent candidate can speed up their work on a specific task before taking the campaign leaves. He/she can do this by accelerating the planning process, establishing a good relationship with the Local Parliament (DPRD), and accelerating the progrees of priority program in the APBD, for example: health and education. This way, the incumbent candidate does not have to be burdened by the cmapaign leaves provision. Either he/she will be re-elected or not, his priority tasks have been completed. If he/she fails to be re-eleced, at least he/she would not leave a burden to his/her successor.
Can you explain to us what is the importance of the campaign leaves provision for the incumbent candidate?
Incumbent candidate has the better probability to win an election. Firstly, an incumbent candidate can boost their performance as an public official. Secondly, and this is the important point, an incumbent candidate may as well hijack state resources to win the election. Such practice must be restricted.
What is the concrete example of this hijacking practice?
For example, an incumbent candidate may reform bureaucracy structure to solidify the political support that he/she can gain. In addition, during the early discussion of the APBD, the incumbent candidate may increase the budget for popular funding such as social aid, social grants, or cash aid. Also, incumbent candidate may mobilize state apparatus in order to help with his/her campaign activity.
Many people believe that the appeal filed by Ahok to put this provision under judicial review will not be accepted by the Constitutional Courtâ€¦
Ahok has the rights to file an appeal regarding the provision. However, if he is wiling to learn from history, the Constitutional Court once had issued a verdict regarding this provision in 2008. Jimly Asshiddiqie, then the Judge Chairman of the MK, requires any incumbent candidate to take campaign leaves during electoral campaign period. Previously, the election law requires any incumbent candidate to step down from his/her office six months before participating as a candidate in local election.
What is your expectation from the appeal filed by Ahok?
Fitra has published a press release regarding this issue. For us, campaign leaves are mandatory. Such provision is important to prevent any kind of conflict of interests in election. We are hoping the Constitutional Court is able to issue their verdict objectively and fairly.