There are many candidates with a status of criminal convict in the 2017 Local Elections. Most of them are dealing with corruption allegation. For example, there is Ahmad Marzuki, the incumbent candidate for the race of Jepara regent position, who is a convict in the case of misappropriation of political subsidy funds in 2011-2012. There is also Burhanuddin, the incumbent candidate in the Takalar local elections, who is a convict in a case of the selling of state-owned land in Sulawesi.
There is also Samsu Umar Abdul Samiun, the Regent of Buton, who is a convict in a bribaery case involving the ex-Judge of the Constitutional Court (MK), Akil Mochtar. And lastly, there is Atty Suharti, the mayor of Cimahi, who is a convict in a bribery case for a traditional market establishment project.
The Local Elections Law can only prevent or disqualify a candidate who has already been convicted with certain legal status (incracht). The principle of political rights and freedom which protected by the Constitution makes the Local Elections Law must accept the participation of any citizen, including the one with criminal convict status.
How do members of the Election Management Body (EMB) see this problem? Here is our interview with a member of the Election Commission (KPU), Ida Budhiati (01/10):
The Local Elections Law does not contain any regulation to disqualify candidate with criminal status. Does any of this hamper the electoral process?
In regards with the technical aspect of the election process, such lack of regulation imposes no problem whatsoever. It is actually constitutionally sound to not immediately disqualify a criminal convict to participate in election as a candidate as long as the convict has not been convicted with a certain verdict by the criminal court (incracht), because our Constitution guarantee the political rights and political freedom of every citizen.
What if during the electoral process a candidate was convicted with certain legal decision by the criminal court? Can this be considered as “Permanent Impairment” as stated in the Laws and Regulations?
If a candidate is convicted with incracht status during his/her candidacy, then he/she will be automatically disqualified by law. This is equal with the “Permanent Impairment” condition as mentioned in the Laws and Regulations.
There are three conditions that will disqualify the candidacy of a candidate. First is death. Second condition is permanent impairment. And the last one is convicted with certain legal decision by the criminal court. Permanent impairment has two conditions: first, severe health problem, and second, permanently unable to perform his/her duty as elected official.
In the 2015 Local Elections, the local election in Manado was hampered because one of the candidates was convicted with criminal activity. How is this case different from the current ones?
Jimmy Rimba Rogi (the convicted candidate) was already being convicted with certain legal decision by the court. However, he had not served his sentence during his candidacy. It’s a different case altogether.
I want to make sure: so it is permitted for a person to participate in election as a candidate although he/she is being convicted with criminal status and this does not hamper the electoral process?
That’s correct. And yes, it does not hamper the election process.
Do we need to implement a regulation to prohibit any person with criminal status to participate in election as a candidate?
Indonesia is a state based on rule of law. There should be a court decision to determine if somebody can be considered as a criminal or not. Before candidate registration process, there is an internal selection process within political party to select which person they would like to propose as election candidate. During this process, political party can prevent any criminal or other problematic would-be candidate to participate in election.
Would disqualifying candidate during an electoral process decrease voters’ participation?
KPU encourage the public to vote rationally and critically. We hope our voters are able to vote based on their rational thinking rather than emotional motive. Therefore, we always provide proper information and education to the voters, especially information about the candidates and his/her political platforms and programs. Rational voters will consider this information important and make their decision based on the information. They will also try to look for any suspicious background and past activities of the candidate. Our task is to provide voters with the right information. And the rest is solely rested on voters’ decision.