Driving a Vanderhall — a three-wheeled car made in the United States — candidates for Regent and Deputy Regent of Karawang, Cellica Nurrachadiana and Aep Saepuloh, were paraded by hundreds of sympathizers when they wanted to register as participants in the regional head elections (Pilkada) simultaneously in December. Both seemed to ignore health protocols related to Covid-19 because they gathered a crowd at the General Election Commission (KPU) in Karawang, West Java on Friday, September 4, 2020. This made the Minister of Home Affairs, Tito Karnavian, furious. He even gave a warning to the Regent of Karawang through a letter signed by the Director General (Dirjen) for Regional Autonomy of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Akmal Malik on behalf of the Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian.
"This contradicts the government's efforts in overcoming and breaking the chain of transmission of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak," said the Minister of Home Affairs in a press release on Saturday, September 5, 2020.
Apart from the Regent of Karawang, the Minister of Home Affairs also admonished the Regent of West Muna, Laode Muhammad Rajiun Tumada, the Regent of Muna LM. Rusman Emba, and the Regent of Wakatobi, H. Arhawi. At least 72 incumbent candidate pairs received a warning for violating the Covid-19 health protocol when registering for Pilkada participants on September 4-6.
Quarter three money, the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) RI found 243 cases of violation of health protocols. According to West Java Bawaslu Member, Lolly Suhenti, the majority of health protocol violations occurred outside the KPU office. Apart from not wearing masks, sympathizers also did not apply a safe distance of more than one meter. In fact, according to Lolly, his party had reminded the contestants to comply with health protocols during registration for the 2020 Pilkada.
Just so you know, Bawaslu has issued Bawaslu Regulation number 4 of 2020 concerning Violation Monitoring and Dispute Resolution. In this regulation, there is a special chapter that regulates the monitoring of violations of health protocols. However, the authority of Bawaslu is only limited to the aspect of supervision.
"We coordinate with the police because they are authorized to disperse the crowd," he said during a discussion on the Pilkada and the New Covid-19 Cluster on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
Apart from supervising, Bawaslu also socialized the Covid-19 protocol. In West Java alone, 1210 participatory supervisors were deployed to do this.
Member of the Indonesian General Election Commission (KPU), I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi, also regretted the crowd during the last regional head registration. In fact, according to him, his party has issued PKPU Number 10 of 2020 regarding the implementation of the regional elections during the Pademi period. In Articles 49 and 50, the KPU only allows prospective pairs of candidates, party key managers and liaison officer (LO) candidates who register. Meanwhile, sympathizers can take advantage of live broadcasts through the KPU's social media channels in various regions.
Given the many violations of past health protocols, Dewa warned contestants not to repeat violations during the campaign period. Face-to-face campaigns such as limited dialogue can only be carried out by a maximum of 50 people. Meanwhile, the general meeting can only be attended by no more than 100 people with health protocols. Currently, according to him, the KPU is revising the campaign rules so that candidates can maximize online campaigns and through social media.
In the simultaneous regional elections in December 2020, the KPU received 735 registration letters for prospective pairs of candidates. Of these, 60 people tested positive for Covid-19 based on a swab test. Even one candidate in Sidoarjo is known to have registered directly, even though he was tested positive for Covid-19. Dewa hopes that candidate pairs, political parties and sympathizers will have awareness of the dangers of Covid-19 transmission.
"Covid-19 will not abort prospective pairs of candidates and pairs of candidates. But a pandemic situation will cause a schedule that cannot be followed by (positive) candidates, "he said.
Candidates who test positive at registration are required to self-quarantine until the swab test diagnosis is negative. The KPU will reschedule those who have not been able to follow the advanced stages, such as medical examinations.
Minimal Risk Mitigation
Director of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Indonesia (Puskapol UI), Aditya Perdana stated that holding elections in the midst of a pandemic is very risky. The stages of registering a candidate pair of candidates prove the difficulty of applying the protocol to the political masses. Apart from that, the government, KPU, Bawaslu, and security forces also seemed to be stuttering in facing a situation that could have been mitigated in detail.
"This is ironic because the government, DPR, and organizers have decided with confidence that the December 2020 Pilkada can be realized with strict health protocols. In fact, we saw that the violations committed by the participants were very bright, especially the crowd and procession, "he said.
Therefore, Aditya suggested that election operators evaluate and revise all election guidelines in the midst of a pandemic. He said the regulation must be able to prevent the mass gathering that is likely to be repeated in the announcement of candidate pairs and campaigns.
Regulations must also be simulated at each stage by inviting the security apparatus, as well as the regional Covid-19 control task force. Aditya does not want election-related institutions to shift responsibility to each other when they cannot control the situation on the ground.
Researcher of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Heroik Pratama, suggested that regulations related to election implementation contain strict sanctions. According to him, holding the election needs to consider sanctions in the form of disqualification of candidate pairs who violate health protocols. The authority to impose sanctions on violations of health protocols can be exercised by Bawaslu and the Integrated Law Enforcement Center (Gakkumdu).
"We appreciate the proposed sanctions in the form of postponing the inauguration which was conveyed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. But that is the problem at the end, meanwhile it takes strict sanctions when the stage is running so that there is a deterrent effect for those who violate it, "he said.
Heroik added that the government, together with the KPU, Bawaslu and DPR must be able to ensure that the health protocol runs during the election stages. To reduce the risk of transmission, election administrators need to maximize digital space. According to him, this does not reduce the candidates' rights in the 2020 regional elections.
"If the Government, KPU, Bawaslu, and DPR cannot strictly ensure the health protocol, there will be no choice but to postpone the election stages and re-evaluate the health protocol," he said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs proposes additional articles related to the mobilization of masses, convoys, parades and social services in PKPU 10/2020. However, according to the Head of Legislation of the Directorate General of Regional Autonomy of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Saydiman Marto, there is no suggestion regarding additional sanctions. Until now, the only sanctions that have fulfilled the regulations have been a warning.
"The initial sanction is still a strong warning. Furthermore, if the violations are repeated, it is still possible to take various regulations, "he said.
Responding to a number of problems during candidacy, Commission II of the DPR RI together with the Minister of Home Affairs, KPU, Bawaslu and DKPP held a work meeting on Thursday, September 10, 2020. One of the conclusions of the meeting that surfaced at the meeting was the enforcement of discipline and the application of stricter legal sanctions at the election stage. The rules regarding sanctions must be completed by September 14 in order to ensure the safety of voters, candidates and voting organizers. (Deborah Blandina Sinambela)