Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – The government is set to draft a regulation to restrict mass gatherings during the upcoming regional elections in an effort to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Home Minister Tito Karnavian said he would propose either a revision to the existing General Elections Commission (KPU) regulation or a specific Government Regulations in Lieu of Law (Perppu) for the matter.
"If it is not a Perppu, then the KPU regulation must be revised immediately within a few days. This needs support from all parties because the Home Ministry can only facilitate, while the key is approval from the KPU itself and House Commission II," Tito said on Sunday.
Tito emphasized that COVID-19 health protocols had to be enforced not only on voting day but at all stages of the electoral process, including during campaign events.
The Minister expressed his disapproval of holding rallies and concerts during campaigns. "I do not agree with holding rallies, let alone concerts. I have written a letter directly to the KPU," he said.
However, Tito said that banning all electoral gatherings would be "unfair" because it would benefit only the incumbents, who had a head start in popularity and electability.
Limited meetings involving a maximum of 50 people should be allowed, Tito said. He also encouraged campaigns to host virtual events.
The elections could be a good opportunity to encourage participating regions to move faster in dealing with COVID-19, he said, adding that potential leaders would have to share their visions for the fight against the pandemic in their campaigns.
"People must choose those who can handle COVID-19 and the socioeconomic impacts in their respective regions," he said.
He said the proposed regulation should oblige candidates and their teams to carry out mass education campaigns about health protocols and distribute masks, hand sanitizer and soap.
Previously, KPU commissioner Viryan Azis said the commission supported the idea of the government issuing a Perppu to limit crowds during the upcoming elections.
"The Perppu should ban campaigns, ways of voting and ways of counting votes that create crowds, with strict sanctions for violators," Viryan said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Concerts, Viryan added, should be held only online. "The main principle is to do activities online whenever possible," said Viryan.
KPU Commissioner Pramono Ubaid Tanthowi said the KPU planned to propose a number of ideas, including a method of voting that used mobile ballot boxes.
"This method is a way to gather votes from voters who are afraid to go to polling stations and from voters who are positive for COVID-19 or undergoing self-isolation," Pramono said on Saturday.
He said the KPU would propose limiting the voting time to between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. and would suggest that votes be verified electronically.