Indonesia: Elections Watchdog Reports Yudhoyono to Police

The Election Monitoring Board (Bawaslu) reported the Yudhoyono – Boediono’s campaign team and presidential candidate Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to the police on Saturday, for violating the regulation of campaigning outside the determined schedule.

“The complaint by Bawaslu concerned the SBY-Boediono coalition gathering on May 30, 2009 at the Jakarta Fair,” said Bawaslu chairman Nur Hidayat Sardini at a press conference yesterday in Jakarta. According to him, banners and party attributes were exhibited at the event.

Hidayat also said Yudhoyono had conveyed his vision, mission and programs at the gathering, which was widely broadcasted through the media. Bawaslu judged the event as a campaign activity. Yet, the campaign period officially begins on June 2 to July 4.

The gathering was considered to have violated Chapter 213 of Law no. 42/2008 on the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections. The names cited in the Bawaslu report to the police included Yudhoyono, National Campaign Team Leader Hatta Rajasa, the state-run TVRI program and news director, and the chief editor of Metro TV.

Hidayat said 18 pieces of evidence were included in the report, containing two pieces of VCD of TVRI and Metro TV broadcast from the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), a warning letter from KPI to Metro TV, a request for clarification letter, and a complaint from Sigma Indonesia dated June 1, 2009.

Bawaslu invited Hatta Rajasa for his clarification on June 5 – 6. “He did not appear,” Hidayat said. Before filing their complaint to the police, Bawaslu had asked the KPI, the TVRI News General Manager, Metro TV chief editor, and a commissioner of Trans-7 TV for their clarification.

The Democrat Party chairman, Anas Urbaningrum denied charges that Yudhoyono was campaigning outside the official schedule. “That was an internal event,” he said. Anas admitted there was an elaboration of the party’s vision and mission, but it was only aimed at disseminating information to supporters. Other candidates also presented their vision and mission. Anas claimed not to know of any request for a clarification from Bawaslu.

Bawaslu also asked one state television station TVRI and two private stations which aired the event for their clarification. Yet, TVRI and Metro TV were the only ones reported as they allegedly participated in the violation. “TVRI aired the whole event while Metro TV did not edit or censor the vision, mission, and programs. Trans-7 was not reported because it did not broadcast the vision, mission, and programs.”

Metro TV chief editor Elman Saragih rejected Bawaslu’s claims, saying “The program was purely a news program.” He said that the program contained important news for the public. He said that Bawaslu’s claim was just one way of restricting press coverage.

Meanwhile, TVRI will respect the legal process. “I did not see the warning letter,” said TVRI spokesperson, Meggy Rares, adding that TVRI could not edit the material since it was aired live.


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