AN elderly man entered the yard of the General Election Commission (KPU) Office on Jalan Veteran in Semarang, and joined dozens of other people lining up to obtain forms to become DPD members, last Tuesday. “I’m only collecting for my friends,” said Muchlas, a 60-year-old retired civil servant, timidly. He was one of about 430 people, collecting the forms needed to compete in the Central Java Provincial House of Representatives (DPD) election.
Muchlas, a resident of Salatiga, will later compete with retired civil servants, former officials, community figures, non-governmental organizations (NGO) activists, artists, celebrities, businesspeople, merchants and students to represent the region in the new institute, the new DPD.
This is the first time since the 1955 General Elections that there will be regional representatives. This has been made possible because of the amendments to the 1945 Constitution, which stipulate that the composition of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) should consist of House of Representatives (DPR) and DPD members who are elected through general elections.
The rush of people registering themselves for the DPD memberships was not only restricted to Semarang. Almost all provincial capitals shared the same experience. “This has surpassed our expectations,” said the KPU Chairman, Prof. Dr. Nazaruddin Sjamsuddin.
In Medan, around 186 forms have been distributed as of last Wednesday. Among those that had registered themselves were the former North Sumatra Governor, Lieutenant General (ret) Raja Inal Siregar, former deputy governor Lundu Panjaitan, former Medan Mayor Colonel (ret) Bachtiar Djafar, former Tebing Tinggi Mayor Rohani Darus Daniel, former Tanjung Balai Mayor Bachtar Nizar Lubis and former South Tapanuli Regent Toharudin Siregar.
Up until last Thursday, in Makassar, 131 people had collected forms, and there was a big variety in the applicants. The first to collect his form at the KPU Secretariat was former Chairman of the Supreme Advisory Council (DPA), Achmad Arnold Baramuli. Unlike many other candidates, he collected the form by himself.
In several regions many officials have entered the competition. In Central Java former Central Java Governor of the 1988-1993 period, H.M. Ismand, and of the 1993-1998 period Soewandi and the Sultan of the Surakarta Kraton (Palace) Mangkunegoro IX are competing for spots. Novelist Ahmad Tohari is also said to be participating in the “festivities”.
Each province will be represented by five DPD members. Due to the limited number of seats, the number of candidates will naturally be reduced significantly. There was also a lot of confusion about the application process, and it appeared that most of the candidates didn’t fully understand what the DPD meant. There were some potential applicants who though that the registration was simply part of the process for applying for a job as a civil servant, and brought application letters along with them. There were also many people who were did not know that each province only has five representatives. “It’s even funnier that some of the applicants only knew what DPD stands for after an official has explained it to them,” said a Central Java KPU official, laughing.
Nazaruddin was sure that the overwhelming number of applicants was a result of ignorance about the heavy workload and responsibility of DPD members. “The requirements are higher than for DPR members,” said Nazaruddin. Why shouldn’t it be? Apart from meeting standard requirements like age and loyalty to Pancasila (Five Basic Principles) applicants must also provide concrete proof of supporting votes.
A candidate of a province with the 1 million citizens should be supported by at least a thousand voters; 1-5 million citizens by 2,000 voters; 5-10 millions citizens by 3,000 voters; 10-15 million citizens by 4,000 voters and those with more than 15 million citizens should at least be supported by 5,000 voters. The supporting letters should be accompanied with photocopies of Resident Identity Cards (KTP), which must be kept with the completed forms until September 8.
These initial qualifying requirements do not address the important matter of funding. After the requirements are met, the applicant must then be ready to cover the costs required for the campaign period, which begins on March 11 and ends April 1, 2004, four days before the April 5 election. It is clear that the Rp5,000 for the form is just the beginning of an expensive political process. “If one has no financial support, it will be exceptionally hard,” said Nazaruddin. So, who is still interested?
TEMPO, AUGUST 04, 2003-047/P. 18 Heading National