Home Liputan Khusus Impact of COVID-19 on Election Processes in 4 Southeast Asian Countries

Impact of COVID-19 on Election Processes in 4 Southeast Asian Countries

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In the Southeast Asian region, Malaysia is the country with the highest number of cases of people infected with Corona Virus Disease (Covid)-19. As of Thursday (3/26), 1.796 people were confirmed positive for corona with 17 dead. Following, with Thailand 934 cases, died 2. Indonesia 790 cases, died 58. Singapore  631 cases, dead 2. Philippines 552 cases, 35 died. Vietnam 134 cases. Brunei Darussalam 91 cases. Cambodia 24 cases (See https://www.aseanbriefing.com/news/coronavirus-asia-asean-live-updates-by-country/).

From these figures, Indonesia is currently the country with the highest mortality rate in Southeast Asia due to the corona virus. Meanwhile, there are new corona cases in three Southeast Asian countries, namely, Myanmar and Timor Leste 1 case, and Laos 2 cases. Before, on 19 March, still have not corona cases.

Indonesia

The outbreak of the corona virus in Indonesia has led election officials to take special actions, including issuing circulars related to hygiene protocols and work from home policies. Both the General Election Commission (KPU) and the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) which have ranks up to the district/city level, apply work pickets at the office. Some work in offices, others work from home.

The increasing number of corona cases in Indonesia has also led to a push for the postponement of the Regional Heads Election (Pilkada) 2020 in 270 regions. Civil society organizations such as the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) and the Indonesian Electoral Committee (TePI) have stated their stance encouraging the postponement of the elections. However, the KPU, as reported by Kompas (19/3), maintains the stages of the elections being run according to schedule (See https://rumahpemilu.org/tahapan-dan-jadwal-dipertahankan/).

But, per March 26, KPU has announced that three stages of the 2020 Simultaneous Local Executive Elections being postponed, namely the inauguration of the voting committee, verification of the support of independent candidate, and voter registration. As of March 24, the KPU also release a working from home policy for all of its staff until March 31.

Malaysia

Luckily there are no stages of elections taking place in Malaysia. Because based on the direction of the Government, the Malaysian Election Commission office and other non-essential service offices were closed from 18 to 31 May. The Malaysian government itself has been holding a lockdown for two weeks (The New York Times, March 17).

“There is no specific direction to the Malaysian Election Commission. But from May 18 to May 31, all non-essential services are directed to close. There is no exception for the Election Commission for this time,” said Malaysiakini.com senior journalist Zhikri Kamarulzaman, when questioned via Whats App (19/3).

The outbreak of Covid-19 in this country complicates the ongoing Election Reform advocacy process. Chair of Bersih 2.0, Thomas Fann said all activities were suspended until March 31, thus completing the final draft of electoral reform recommendations prepared by the Election Reform Committee (ERC) was postponed. Scheduled, the final draft will be completed in July.

Timor Leste

Noise due to corona has not been felt by the people of Timor Leste. The reason is that no citizen has been tested positive for the corona (Tempo.co, March 16). To prevent the outbreak from entering the country, the Government has declared a lockdown on Thursday (3/19) (Liputan6.com, March 19).

Until now, community and state activities are still normal. From the sources questioned, no elections will also be held in 2020, although plans for a legislative re-election are circulating in the media.

“The issues that are currently hot in Timor Leste are corona, re-election and flood. But it’s only crowded on social media,” he said.

The Philippines

Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LeNTE) Executive Director, Rona Ann V. Caritos reported that the Commission of Election (Comelec) offices both at the center and in the field were closed until the second week of April. This has an impact on the delay in voter registration which has been delayed for one month. The delay, from the beginning to March 30, was extended to April 14.

“The impact is that there is now a delay in voter registration, which has been one month. Because, the Comelec office is closed until the second week of April,” said Rona via Whats App (20/3).

From online media coverage, postponement of voter registration for the 2020 elections has been carried out since March 10 (Rappler.com, March 9). The delay was taken by Comelec to minimize the risk of corona virus transmission.

“In view of the continuing need to minimize the risk of infection and transmission # COVID19, Comelec has suspended work in all Comelec field offices. In fact, the main office does not do work, except for vital offices such as IT (information technology), finance, and security,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said via Twitter as quoted by Manilla Bulletin, March 16.

From Rappler.com, it turns out that not only voter registration for the 2020 elections was postponed, but also the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections which are scheduled to be held from May 2020 to December 2022. The voter registration period is scheduled to last until 30 September 2021.

 

References

ASEAN Briefing. Recent notes in https://www.aseanbriefing.com/news/coronavirus-asia-asean-live-updates-by-country/.

Liputan6.com. March, 19. “Timor Leste ‘Lockdown’, WNI Tertahan di Pos Perbatasan RI”. News in https://www.liputan6.com/regional/read/4206334/timor-leste-lockdown-wni-tertahan-di-pos-perbatasan-ri.

Manilla Buletin. March, 16. “All Comelec offices are closed until April 14”. News in https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/03/16/all-comelec-offices-are-closed-until-april-14/?doing_wp_cron=1584678603.2016808986663818359375.

Rappler.com. March, 9. “Comelec suspends voter registration due to coronavirus threat”. News in https://www.rappler.com/nation/253878-comelec-suspends-voter-registration-coronavirus-threat.

Rappler.com. March, 19. “Duque under quarantine after exposure to DOH official with coronavirus”. News in https://www.rappler.com/nation/255109-duque-quarantine-exposure-doh-official-coronavirus.

Rumah Pemilu. March, 19. “Tahapan dan Jadwal Pilkada Dipertahankan”. News in https://rumahpemilu.org/tahapan-dan-jadwal-dipertahankan/.

Tempo.co. March, 16. “Perbatasan NTT-Timor Leste Ditutup untuk Cegah Penyebaran Corona”. News in https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1320267/perbatasan-ntt-timor-leste-ditutup-untuk-cegah-penyebaran-corona.

The New York Times. March, 17. “Having Brushed Off Coronavirus Threat, Southeast Asia Begins to Confront It”.  Special coverage in https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/world/asia/coronavirus-southeast-asia.html.

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