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Becoming a legislative candidate is really expensive

Kompas - February 4, 2004

Orin Basuki – It is the afternoon of January 30, and as many as 1169 names of prospective legislative candidates for the provincial Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) for Riau province and the Riau island group are officially announced by the regional National Election Commission in Pekanbaru. Since that time at least 1383 billion rupiah has been spent by around 1383 candidates in the two provinces to fulfill the 20 administrative requirements to be a candidate member of the DPRD.

This total is based on the assumption that each candidate has already invested around 1 million rupiah to fulfill all of the administrative requirements mentioned above and does not yet include other costs which will follow this. The initial requirements include a medial checkup, the verification of high-school certificates, various supporting letters from the state courts and the police, along with a letter certifying their place of residence and political district.

This estimate of 1 million rupiah was confirmed to by the deputy chairperson of the Riau Socialist Democratic Labor Party (PBSD), Bareta Nainggolan. Nainggolan said that on average the cost for each candidate from PBSD to fulfill all of the administrative requirements was as much as 1 million rupiah.

“These costs include the cost of a medical checkup which is as much as 400,000 rupiah and completing the verification of education certificates”, said Nainggolan, who is the PBSD’s number two candidate for the electoral district of Bengkalis-Dumai.

Nainggolan is not alone in having to spend this kind of money. This was also the case for the United Democratic Nationhood Party’s (PDK Party) number one candidate for Riau for the electoral district of Pelalawan-Siak, Edi Achmad.

According to Achmad, the amount spent by each candidate from the PDK Party was on average around 1 million rupiah. All of the costs to fulfil the administrative requirements were covered by the candidates themselves. “All of the administrative costs were automatically paid for out of the pockets of the candidates themselves. In all there were 12 dossiers, eight prepared by the candidates and the remainder prepared by the party. However as well as this there are other costs which will have to be borne by each perspective legislative candidate”, said Achmad.

Achmad said that the additional costs which are borne by each candidate party included the cost of producing 3000 party T-shirts and 700 party flags. The cost to produce the T-shirts came to 13.5 million rupiah and the cost for the party flags was as much as 1.89 million rupiah.

“Because they were produced in large number we could get a cheaper unit price for the T-shirts and flags in comparison with the alternative [of ordering a small number]. The cost of each T-shirt came to 4500 rupiah while the flags were only 2700 rupiah each”, said Achmad.

The money paid out by Achmad and Nainggolan is not very much compared with the costs for nomination which had to be allocated by Fendri Jaswir, the number one DPRD candidate from the National Awakening Party (PAN) for the Riau electoral district of Indragiri Hulu-Kuantan Singingi. Since being declared as a candidate for PAN five months ago, Jaswir has already spend 25 million rupiah.

“At the time [I] was chosen as a candidate, we had agreed to provide money for registration amounting to 2 million rupiah for each legislative candidate at the provincial level. After that, we also had to pay for the cost of completing the administrative requirements who’s total did not quite reach 1 million rupiah”, said Jaswir.

According to Jaswir, the 25 million rupiah was used for the socialisation of the candidates among the people in their electoral district. This included contributing to the cost of making party signs for each sub-district representative, then to make 2000 calendars valued at 3 million rupiah, 5000 name cards along with hundreds of party T-shirts.

“But for the coming mass campaign, I estimate the funds which will still be needed will be around 50 million rupiah more. I will use this to make 5000 T-shirts which will be handed out in the two regencies and 25 sub-districts, then for 2000 party flags”, said Jaswir.

Promotional accessories like name cards were also needed by Nainggolan. Nainggolan admitted that they had already printed as many as 70 boxes of name cards. The total cost of the cards came to 5.25 million rupiah, the cost for each box being as much as 75,000 rupiah.

“These won’t be handed out until the mass campaign, these are only [the initial] preparations. I did not get T-shirts made because of the high cost. It was not possible for me to make T-shirts for 40,000 voters, just to win one seat in the province, I looked for other ways”, said Nainggolan.

The PBSD general chairperson for Riau, Bambang Tri Wahyono, said that militancy by the party’s cadre is absolutely necessary because the majority of its members are from the middle and lower classes. As a consequence, the party could not contribute anything to the nomination process for its legislative candidates, so it very much depends on the commitment of the cadres themselves.

“We are the PBSD, the Money’s Difficult Workers Party (Partai Buruh Susah Duit), how is it possible [for us] to force our perspective legislative members to fulfil the additional requirements. Aside from this, the party itself was not able to provide extensive financial support because our party has only just been established”, said Wahyono.

Jaswir feels fortunate to have obtained the full support from the members of his family who have already made a financial contribution to cover all of the money which he has paid out. Moreover, to fulfill the financial requirement for the coming mass campaign, he is absolutely certain that he will still get support from his family.

“My older and younger sisters/brothers have pledged to guarantee me money for the campaign costs or the socialisation in the electoral district. They have also not asked for it to be paid back. However there is a sense of pride for the family because one of their members will become a representative of the people”, said Jaswir.

For Jaswir, becoming a representative of the people truly means to represent them and is his principle goal in being nominated as a DPRD member in Riau. Later, after his period in office is over, he is interested in returning to his old profession as a journalist.

“After finishing, I will return to the world of journalism, because that’s certainly where my flesh and blood flows”, said Jaswir.

Nainggolan's motivations were different from Jaswir. The PBSD candidate admitted that his motivation to become a candidate member for the Riau DPRD was the desire to try to voice the complaints of workers though political channels. This is based on his experience in leading worker actions because demonstrations and street actions which are extremely exhausting do not always produce the maximal result.

“We keep on shouting in the streets, but there is no result. Because of this, I want to try a different way, that is by becoming a member of the DPRD. Hopefully [we] will get a better hearing. Meanwhile, the costs have to be paid for, because all struggles come with a cost”, said Nainggolan.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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