The Jakarta Post, Makassar/Jayapura Tue, January 22 2013,
As voters in South Sulawesi get ready to go to the polls on Tuesday to choose a governor, officials in Papua have ruled on using traditional noken bags to collect ballots.
Incumbent South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo and Deputy Governor Agus Arifin Nu’mang are seeking reelection and face competition from two other campaigns, Ilham Arief Sirajuddin and Abdul Abdul Aziz Qahhar Mudzakkar, and Andi Rudiyanto Asapa and Andi Nawir Pasinringi.
Ilham is currently the mayor of Makassar, the province’s capital and largest city, while his running mate, Azis, is a two-term member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD).
Rudiyanto is in the middle of his second term as Sinjai regent, while his running mate, Andi Nawir, was formerly Pinrang regent.
The campaigns are vying for the support of 6.22 million registered voters, as officials ready 15,601 polling stations in 24 municipalities and regencies across South Sulawesi.
The incumbents have been nominated by the Golkar Party and seven other parties, while Ilham and Aziz have been backed by the Democratic Party and eight other parties. Rudiyanto and Nawir have been backed by the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party and 18 other parties.
Elsewhere in the province, six campaigns are vying for the support of 110,858 eligible voters to lead Bone regency, while nine campaigns are competing for 560,304 voters in the Palopo mayor’s race.
Residents of Bone reportedly caught two officials from an unidentified campaign delivering food packages in what was described as a vote-buying incident. Local election officials confiscated the packages and vowed to investigate.
Meanwhile, in Papua, the local General Elections Commission (KPUD) issued technical guidelines on the use of the traditional Papuan multipurpose bags called noken in lieu of ballot boxes at polling stations.
“The noken is recognized as a ballot tool in the Papua regional leadership elections” Papua KPUD head Benni Sweny said in Jayapura on Monday. “The noken will replace ballot boxes at polling stations. However, ballot papers that are put into noken will not be perforated, as they will be perforated by poll workers at polling stations after the voters exercise their voting rights.”
Polling stations will be equipped with six noken, one for each campaign, in the province’s upcoming gubernatorial election, according to Benny.
“A voter will take a ballot and insert it in the noken with the name of their candidate. When voting is completed, each noken will be opened, ballot papers perforated by poll workers and later recorded and placed inside ballot boxes,” he said.
The local commission’s guidelines were aimed at standardizing traditional practices in the community. The noken system has thus far been implemented in several districts in the province.
Benny provided an example as to how the system would work. “In a district that votes for candidate A, all the voters in a district may vote for the candidate, but it must be carried out at the polling station and not in the district office. In the noken system, votes are not carried out in polling stations, although they hold the election,” he said.
Areas in 10 regencies in Papua’s Pegunungan Tengah region use the noken system. “Of the 10 regencies, some districts definitely implement the noken system,” Benni said.
Papua’s gubernatorial election, slated for Jan. 29, will involve 2.7 million registered voters who will cast their ballots in 7,116 polling stations in 29 regencies and a municipality.
The election is currently in its official campaign stage. Six of the candidates have been electioneering in constituencies according to a schedule set by the Papua KPUD.
Two separate riots have occurred in Papua during the campaign period.
On Jan. 17, a clash between supporters of Habel Melkias Suwae and Yop Kogoya and an unknown crowd in Yahukimo. A police officer lost his revolver in the scrum.
Also on Jan. 17, a riot broke out in Wamena when candidates Lukas Enembe and Kleman Tinal were campaigning at Sinapuk Field. The riot was triggered by a local official who distributed money from atop a stage to a crowd of thousands who went berserk. Eight were injured in the mayhem, while, 12 cars and three motorcycles were vandalized.
Police fired warning shots into the air to disperse the crowd.