Indonesia elections commission chairman given 'final stern warning' for ethics violations over Gibran candidacy

The other commissioners were given stern warnings.

Tan Min-Wei | February 06, 2024, 08:50 PM


On Feb. 5, the chairman of Indonesia's General Elections Commission (KPU) was issued a “final stern warning”, after being found to have committed ethics violations regarding the registration of vice presidential candidates.

Ethics Violations

According to the Jakarta Post, Indonesia's Election Organisation Ethics Council (DKPP) chair Heddy Lugito said that KPU chairman Hasyim Asy’ari and all six other commissioners had committed ethics violations.

The violation in question was the KPU allowing incumbent president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to register as the vice presidential candidate of current defence minister Prabowo Subianto before it adjusted the minimum age regulation.

Indonesia’s 2017 General Elections Law Reform says a candidate must be at least 40 years old before they can register as a candidate for either president or vice president.

Gibran is 36 years old, but was allowed to register as a vice presidential candidate, following a ruling by Indonesia’s constitutional court as a vice presidential candidate, which stated that candidates who are below 40 may qualify provided they have held elected regional office.

This paved the way for Gibran, who was elected as mayor of Surakarta.

The ruling was controversial at the time, as the head of the constitutional court was Gibran's uncle, and was subsequently demoted for the decision.

Stern warnings

In addition, the KPU broke with existing regulations by merely informing political parties about the new changes.

Instead, the DKP said the KPU should have instead immediately held a meeting with the government and relevant lawmakers, before changing the regulations.

However, the KPU only requested a meeting with lawmakers a week after changing internal regulations to fit with the constitutional courts candidacy ruling.

The head of the KPU, Hasyim, was issued with a “final stern warning”; final in that he has already been issued two other stern warnings regarding ethics violations in 2023.

Hasyim merely said on Feb. 5 that he did not have a comment on the issue, and that he would just continue working.

The six other commissioners were issued stern warnings.

Weaponising the issue

The Jakarta Post spoke to a constitutional law expert who said that the three ethics violations would ordinarily be enough to dismiss the KPU chair, but the proximity to polling day probably stayed the DKP's hand.

With the presidential election in just over a week away, there are fears that dismissing Hasyim might have a negative political impact, causing the election to be put into disrepute.

Tempo reported that Prabowo’s and Gibran’s national campaign team anticipate that the issue would be “weaponised” and “those afraid to lose would replay it like a broken record”.

He said that the decision only concerned “technical issues”, and did not substantively impact the Prabowo-Gibran team.

In addition, the members of the legislature were on recess at the time of the registration of presidential and vice presidential candidates, and it would have been impossible to arrange a meeting in time.

He also noted that the DKPP did not declare the Prabowo-Gibran registration as invalid, and that the DKPP decision said the KPU had carried out its constitutional duties.

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Top image via Prabowo Subianto/Facebook & Wikipedia