Home Special Coverage Positive and Negative Notes on the Interview Process of Candidates in Bawaslu Members Selection Process

Positive and Negative Notes on the Interview Process of Candidates in Bawaslu Members Selection Process

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The interview of 22 candidates in the selection process for Bawaslu new members focused on integrity, independence, and knowledge of the candidates on election technology. There is not much new ideas come from the candidates.

There are twenty two candidates for the selection process of the new members of the Election Oversight Body (Bawaslu) who just underwent an interview process at the Ministry of Home Affairs on January 18th – 20th 2017. The Special Team for the selection process in the interview mainly assessed the integrity of the candidates, their independence by checking their track-record, and their knowledge on recent electoral issues.

Assessing Integrity and Independence

Candidates’ integrity was under the spotlight during the interview process. Long before the interview had even started, Rambe Kamarul Zaman, who was the Chief of the Commission II of the Parliament, asks the Special Team to focus on the integrity aspect of the candidates.

“I want the Special Team to conduct the interview thoroughly, so there will be no opportunity for politicians to intervene in the process,” says Rambe (01/05).

The Special Team scrutinize the integrity of candidates by relentlessly asking about the use of state facilities, conflict of interests with any of the current state official, and if there is any kinship relation with the current state official.

Endang Wihdaningtyas, an incumbent candidate, was interrogated by Hamdi Muluk about her domicile. During her stay in Jakarta, there is an allegation that Endang rent a place owned by her sibling-in-law using Bawaslu’s money. Endang says she chose to stay at the place because it is not too far away from her sibling-in-law’s house. “I have entered into the rent agreement according to the proper procedure,” says Endang (01/19).

Mohammad Najib, the Chairperson of Bawaslu of Yogyakarta, was interrogated by Widodo Ekatjahjana regarding the procurement of office cars for personal use. “I heard you often go to Pati to buy batik wholesale. Do you use official car for this shopping activity?” asks Widodo (01/18).

Najib admits that he might had used official car for personal use a long time ago. But he says that he never do that anymore.

Sakka Pati, a law lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the Hasanuddin University, was interrogated regarding his Facebook status update. On Facebook, Sakka once expressed his support for a certain local election candidate in South Sulawesi. “It’s only because the candidate is my friend,” Sakka says (01/18).

The Special Team also interrogated the candidates regarding their personal relationship status. Yan Marli, a member of KPU of West Nusa Tenggara, was interrogated by Erwan Agus Purwanto regarding his marriage status. According to the official record, Yan Marli is married with a woman. However, according to public testimony, Yan Marli has two wives. Yan says he married his two wives legally. He also says that he has received approval from both wives. However, his second wife refuses to put her name on his curriculum vitae.

A candidate named Ratna Dewi Pettalolo was interrogated regarding her lack of emotional stability. After explaining her tendency to easily get angry at people, a member of the Special Team, Widodo Ekatjahjana, asks her a rather personal question, despite the question was a jest in spirit—do you also easily get angry at your husband?

Hamdi Muluk and Widodo also ask the marriage status of a candidate named Mimah Susanti. On her CV, Mimah wrote that she is currently a widow.

These questions regarding the integrity of the candidates were asked to confirm all allegations and public skepticism. Meanwhile, financial investigation was conducted to detect and verify any undue transaction. There is no any other way to investigate such transaction except by directly ask the subject. Most of the candidates have not submit their financial statement to the State. And the public also face difficulty to access any information regarding the financial activities of candidates.

Candidates’ commitment to their integrity value and independence were also being interrogated with questions regarding their political activity. Members of the Special Team ask many questions regarding candidates’ relationship with politicians, if any, and their track record in political activism in order to make sure that the candidate does not have any undue political interest.

The questions to assess the integrity of candidates should be less personal and should be more relevant with integrity and independence aspect of candidates. Members of the Special Team should also base their interrogation on their own initial investigation with the Commission for Corruption Eradication (KPK), Center for Reports and Analysis on Financial Transaction (PPATK), and State Intelligence Body (BIN).

Assessing Electoral Knowledge

Members of the Special Team assess the knowledge of candidates by interrogating them with questions regarding recent election issues related to Bawaslu. There are four questions that are often asked by the Special Team: Bawaslu’s authority to adjudicate and put on sentence to violators; the regulation that allows Bawaslu to only handle violation which fulfill the structural, systematic, and massive (SSM) requirement and reported before the period of 60 days before the voting day; status upgrade of Oversight Committee at regency/municipality level from ad hoc institution to permanent institution; and the regulation that oblige Bawaslu to consult with members of the Parliament whenever the institution want to pass new regulations.

Members of the Special Team, for example, ask candidate about their opinion on the new authority for Bawaslu to adjudicate and sentence electoral financial regulation. This new authority is regulated in Law No.10/2016. Article 73 of the Law states that Election Commission (KPU) is allowed to disqualify the participation of any candidate who has been proven by Bawaslu to violate the money politics regulation.

However, there is limitation: only violation with SSM characteristic is allowed to be adjudicated by Bawaslu. Endang Wihdaningtyas admits that she is facing difficulty in translating this law into technical regulation. Endang says, intense hearing sessions between members of the Parliament with Bawaslu may help Bawaslu to formulate the law into Bawasl  u’s Regulations.

Bawaslu finally passed Bawaslu’s Regulations No.13/2016 on the procedure to handle administrative violation related to money politics. However, it doesn’t do any good. Article 27 paragraph 2 of the Bawaslu Regulations states that Bawaslu will only process violation that satisfy the SSM characteristic and reported before the 60 days period before the voting day.

A candidate named Syafrida Rachmawati Rasahan, the current Chairperson of Bawaslu of North Sumatera, says this regulation will impose difficulty for her subordinates. She often had to reject reports on violation because the violation does not satisfy the SSM qualification. She also had to reject many reports because they were submitted within 60 days period before voting day.

“This is absurd because money politics often committed right before voting,” says Syafrida answering a question from Saldi Isra, the Chief of the Special Team (01/19).

Other candidates have different opinion about the obligation for Bawaslu to consult members of Parliament in order to pass new regulations. A candidate named Bagus Sarwono, a member of Bawaslu of Yogyakarta, says the obligation for consultation harms the independence of election management bodies, including Bawaslu.

Bawaslu is one of the interested party in the Judicial Review to revise the Law 10/2014. The Law contains technical regulation on the mandatory consultation between EMBs and the Parliament. According to Bawaslu, this regulation does not violate Bawaslu’s independence in formulating its own regulations. Instead, the consultation process will help Bawaslu in formulating regulations regarding money politics.

Other issue is about the status upgrade of election observers at regency/municipality level. Article 72 paragraph 4 in the new Elections Law Bill proposed by the Government states that the Government shall upgrade the status of Election Oversight Committee at regency/municipality level from ad hoc institution into permanent institution.

The majority of candidates, especially those who come from the Election Oversight Committee at regency/municipality level, agree with this new regulation. The status of Election Oversight Committee as ad hoc institutions often encourage them to make undue deals with political party or election candidate. They also tend to get easily influenced by third-parties and only makes short-term decision without considering the long-term consequences.

These questions related to the current issues dealt by Bawaslu are important to assess candidates’ technical knowledge about the issues. However, the candidates’ answers do not really provide any new insights for the solution of the problems. Instead, the answers only make them look like they are being evaluating Bawaslu as an EMB.

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