Andi Hajramurni and Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Makassar – The exposure of a number of regional election candidates and current leaders to COVID-19 has somewhat marred this year's celebration of democracy in various parts of the country.
In South Sulawesi, Barru regency candidate Malkan Amin died from COVID-19 on voting day on Wednesday, leaving behind his running mate Andi Salahuddin Rum.
Malkan was a veteran politician in South Sulawesi. He was a member of the People's Consultative Assembly twice and of the House of Representatives once.
He was admitted to Bhayangkara Hospital in Makassar on Monday, but his infection worsened. He then underwent treatment for less than a day at Wahidin Sudirohusodo Hospital in Makassar.
In East Java, some election candidates have tested positive for COVID-19, including Surabaya mayoral candidate Machfud Arifin who was confirmed positive at the beginning of his election campaign.
Former two-term East Java deputy governor Saifullah Yusuf, who is now running for the top office in Pasuruan regency, previously announced that 16 members of his extended family had tested positive for COVID-19 following a family gathering. Saifullah himself tested negative.
From an isolation room at the Dr. Soetomo General Hospital in Surabaya, East Java's provincial capital, Saifullah's wife, Fatma Saifullah Yusuf, wrote an apology to her husband on Wednesday morning for not being able to accompany him on polling day as over 18 million registered voters in several areas holding regional elections in East Java prepared to cast their ballots.
Also in Dr. Soetomo General Hospital Probolinggo deputy mayor Mochammad Soufis Subri died from the coronavirus on Wednesday. Probolinggo is not holding an election this year.
Subri displayed symptoms on Nov. 11 after returning from an official trip in Bandung and tested positive on Nov. 20. He had received medical treatment at Dr. Soetomo for more than two weeks.
"The medical team explained that his infection took hold fast. All treatments were given, including the installation of a ventilator and the ECMO [Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation] with family consent," Probolinggo Communications and Information Agency head Aman Suryaman said.
After voting in the Surabaya mayoral election at the polling station next to her private house, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa conveyed her condolences on the death of Subri. She urged voters not to celebrate after participating in the elections at any level.
"I am very worried. Please safeguard the process so that the implementation of health protocols will not be loosened. The spread of COVID-19 is not over. [Subri's death] should be a warning for us all," Khofifah said.
Previously, two regional heads in East Java also died from exposure to COVID-19. They were acting Sidoarjo regent Nur Ahmad Syaifuddin and Situbondo regent Dadang Wigiarto. Jombang Regent Mundjidah Wahab and Malang Mayor Sutiaji have also contracted the virus. Of the four regions, only Sidoarjo and Situbondo are holding regental elections this year. (syk)