Sunday, February 28, 2021

Indonesia holds nationwide polls despite virus warnings

More than 100 million Indonesians are registered to vote in the poll staffed by almost 2.7 million election workers, with some taking ballot boxes to hospitalised Covid patients.

Other News

PKR pertahankan tindakan wakil rakyat Amanah lompat parti

Ahli dalam Pakatan Harapan boleh bertukar menyertai mana-mana parti kecuali ‘seteru’ politik.

PKR defends Amanah party hoppers

It says members within the Pakatan Harapan coalition can switch parties but not to the 'enemy side'.

Duo says ready to help PM rebuild economy after quitting PKR

Larry Sng says there has been too much politicking, while Steven Choong says he is ready to contribute his professional expertise.

Dua ahli Parlimen keluar PKR mahu bantu PM pulihkan ekonomi

Larry Sng berkata terlalu banyak politiking manakala Steven Choong berkata bersedia menyumbang menggunakan kepakarannya.

Myanmar forces disperse rallies with 3 reported dead in anti-coup crackdown

Three men were killed and at least 20 others injured when security forces moved on a rally in the southern coastal hub of Dawei, according to a volunteer medic and local media reports.

Indonesia held nationwide regional elections Wednesday with more than 100 million voters eligible to cast a ballot, despite warnings the poll would worsen the nation’s Covid-19 crisis.

The archipelago of nearly 270 million – the world’s third-biggest democracy and fourth most populous nation – delayed the vote originally set for September as it struggled to contain soaring infection rates.

From the capital Jakarta to the holiday island of Bali, polling station staff in full protective gear enforced social distancing and took voters’ temperatures before polls closed at 1pm local time.

Abdul Rahman Wahab, 24, admitted he was nervous about turning up to vote on Sulawesi island.

“Health is my priority for sure, but voting is also an important part of our life in a democratic country,” he said.

Islamist parties are looking to score big gains in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation as they ride a tide of rising religious conservatism.

In the second-biggest city Surabaya workers followed the tradition of donning superhero costumes, dressing as Spiderman to lure voters in.

Others were tasked with taking ballot boxes into hospitals so that Covid patients could vote from their sickbeds.

“All polling stations were disinfected,” said Suprianto, head of a polling station committee in Jakarta’s Ciputat district, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“We made spaces as wide as possible to allow for social distancing. Voters were also required to wear masks. If you don’t, then you won’t be allowed in the polling station.”

Voter Nur Oktaviani said the precautions had put her at ease.

“I’m not worried,” the 24-year-old told AFP.

“Here, they’re complying with health protocols.”

‘High risk’

Hundreds of hopefuls – including President Joko Widodo’s eldest son – are vying for 270 positions, including regional governors, district heads and mayors.

Official results are not expected for several weeks.

At least four election candidates have died so far, according to independent research group Laporcovid, and more than 1,000 election agency staff were infected ahead of voting day.

Over 580,000 Indonesians have contracted the illness while the death toll stands at 18,000.

But the true scale of the crisis is widely believed to be much bigger, as testing rates are low.

Infections could skyrocket above one million after polling day, warned Hermawan Saputra at the Indonesian Public Health Experts’ Association.

“The most worrying thing is that it won’t be just young, healthy people casting their votes, but also the elderly, pregnant women and sick people – they’re all at high risk,” he said.

“The public service announcements and health protocols aren’t enough. Health is being trumped by political demands and that’s very concerning. It’s not worth it.”

Dynastic ambitions

In the midst of the pandemic, voters had little chance to interact with candidates or understand their platforms, dealing a blow to a democracy that rose from the ashes of the Suharto dictatorship two decades ago.

“Holding regional elections during the pandemic is highly risky and costs a lot of money,” said Titi Anggraini, an analyst at the Association for Elections and Democracy.

“It’s such a waste.”

Widodo’s son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 33, is running for mayor of Solo city in Central Java, where his father, a former furniture seller better known as Jokowi, started in politics.

Jokowi’s son-in-law is also vying for office, stirring questions about whether Indonesia’s leader is trying to create a political dynasty more than a year into his second and final term.

Vice-president Ma’ruf Amin’s daughter and defence minister Prabowo Subianto’s niece are also running for elected positions.

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/malaysianow

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

New cases stay above 2,000 as 10 more deaths reported

190 in the ICU, 99 in need of respiratory assistance.

RM10,000 fine not for all SOP offences, top cop explains

Abdul Hamid Bador says the RM10,000 compound will not be issued for offences such as failure to wear face masks.

Too soon to say if Covid-19 jabs could allow immunity passports, says Noor Hisham

The health DG says other factors including the efficacy of the vaccines administered need to be taken into consideration first.

Khairy tells why he’s not taking Pfizer jab

The minister in charge of vaccine procurement is not among the key political leaders and individuals who have been administered the Pfizer vaccine.

Daily cases back over 2,000, death toll up by 11

2,253 new cases, 3,085 recoveries.