Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Sat, December 07 2013, 10:30 AM
First-time legislative candidates have objected to a new regulation from the General Elections Commission (KPU) that limits campaign advertising, saying that it would disadvantage them as they were still unknown to the public.
KPU regulation No. 15/2013, which took effect in September, bans legislative candidates from using billboards in their political campaigns. It also restricts the number of banners that can be put in one area.
“We are not like old politicians, who are widely known by the public. The new regulation hurts us as first-time candidates because it restricts our ability to introduce ourselves to the public,” Afda Rizal Armashita of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said in a discussion held on Friday in Jakarta.
Another fledgling candidate, Faizal Yusuf of the National Democrat (NasDem) Party, said that the regulation indeed benefited those who were already well-known by the public, even though he preferred to talk directly to citizens rather than putting up banners, which cost a lot of money.
“I am an environmental activist. I don’t use banners to campaign. An Australian once told me that trees in Indonesia produce ‘people faces’ [banners] rather than fruit. It is a stinging joke for us because we use public space for campaigning,” he said.
He said, however, that although the new regulation had already taken effect, there were still many violations in the field because both the KPU and the Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu) did not have a single agreed definition about campaign violations.
KPU chairman Husni Kamil Manik said that the new regulation was meant to limit excessive campaign advertising in order to allow voters to see, study and research about their preferred candidates.
“We need to familiarize political parties and local governments with the regulation so they know which areas are open for political parties and candidates to campaign in and which are not,” he added.
Bawaslu member Daniel Zuchron said that political parties and politicians had a limited understanding of what campaigning was if they thought it only meant putting up billboards.
“In 2009, the campaign period was very short, but in the 2014 elections, political parties have around one-and-a-half year’s time to campaign, from January 2013 to April 2014. Of course campaign advertisements are restricted to a specific period, but there are other modes of campaigning that are not prohibited by the law — for example, talking to people on the ground and listening to their stories,” he said.
He said that the illegal placement of campaign tools such as banners constituted the majority of campaign violations as of December 2013.