Jakarta Panwaslu Unable to Prevent Race-Based Campaigning Online

By webadmin on 11:55 am Sep 08, 2012
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Lenny Tristia Tambun,Bayu Marhaenjati, Zaky Pawas& Markus Junianto Sihaloho

The body responsible for keeping Jakarta’s gubernatorial election fair says it is powerless to act against online race-based campaigning, suggesting police action under the nation’s electronic communications law might be a better way to tackle the problem.

Ramdansyah, head of the Jakarta General Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu), admitted on Friday that campaigning through social networks on the basis of racial, religious and ethnic issues, known collectively as SARA, was on the increase ahead of the Sept. 20 runoff vote.

“It is clearly not within our jurisdiction because the Law on Regional Elections and the Law on Presidential Elections don’t regulate matters related to social networks,” Ramdansyah said. “SARA issues spread on social networks can be settled under the Law on Electronic Information and Transactions,” he added, saying police were responsible for pursuing violators.

Panwaslu, he said, could only process reports of electoral violations taking place in the public domain and pursue them if there were witnesses available to back up the allegations.

He also said that people on Twitter and other social networks were free to ignore the postings if they disagreed with them.

The moderators of those social networks could also exercise their right to close down accounts. “That is in the private-to-private domain,” the official said.

The Jakarta Police promised to take action against some SARA campaigning ahead of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, but did not comment specifically on online electioneering.

“We just had a meeting with related institutions — the military and Public Order Agency [Satpol PP] — and we agreed to create peace in the second round of the regional election. We will process and take down any banners and others that contain SARA issues,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Friday.

He called on the public to help create a secure environment ahead of this month’s runoff vote.

“Report any violations, the position, contents, people who made it and who it was intended for. We’re ready along with other related institutions. One thing is for certain, we will take action against any violation of the law that threatens the peace in Jakarta,” he said.

Police will dispatch more than 16,000 officers to secure the election, consisting of 4,427 Jakarta Police officers, 7,397 officers from municipal police offices, 2,100 officers from the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit, 505 officers from the National Police, and 2,200 military officers.

T he racial and religious smear campaigning has been directed against challenger Joko Widodo’s deputy, Basuki Tjahaja Purnomo, who is a Christian of ethnic Chinese heritage.