Indonesia’s election commission found guilty of ethics breach in handling of Gibran VP bid

The election body has several times found itself in hot water ahead of the February election, including when it implied last year that it would scrap the vice presidential debates.

Dio Suhenda and Nur Janti

Dio Suhenda and Nur Janti

The Jakarta Post


Workers sort and fold ballot papers for the 2024 presidential election at a Bogor General Elections Commission (KPU) warehouse in West Java on Jan. 15, 2024. PHOTO: ANTARA/THE JAKARTA POST

February 6, 2024

 JAKARTA – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has its integrity put under public scrutiny once again after its leadership was found to have committed ethics violations surrounding Gibran Rakabuming Raka’s vice presidential registration.

In an ethics hearing on Monday, Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) chair Heddy Lugito said KPU chairman Hasyim Asy’ari and all six commissioners were guilty of an ethics violation for allowing Gibran to register his candidacy before the commission had adjusted the age minimum for candidates in its internal regulation.

Thirty-six-year-old Surakarta Mayor Gibran, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s son, was initially ineligible to contest the election because he was below the minimum age of 40 for registering his candidacy, as set in the KPU regulation that was in line with the 2017 General Elections Law.

In a controversial ruling on Oct. 16 of last year, the Constitutional Court however removed the minimum age requirement for candidates with experience as elected officials, paving the way for Gibran to register himself as running mate to frontrunner Prabowo Subianto with the KPU around a week later.

The DKPP said the KPU should have immediately held a meeting with lawmakers and the government following the court ruling, which is a prerequisite to revising the KPU regulation. Yet, the KPU instead opted to simply inform political parties about the changes introduced by the ruling before eventually requesting a meeting with lawmakers a week later and bringing the internal regulation into compliance with the court’s candidacy ruling.

Separately on Monday, Hasyim said: “I don’t have a comment on this; I will just continue working”.

Recurring violations

The ethics council slapped Hasyim with a “final stern warning” for his part in the case, while the six other KPU members received a “stern warning”. This is because Hasyim had previously collected two other stern warnings from the DKPP due to ethics breaches in March and April last year.

Read also: KPU in hot water over overseas voting confusion

Constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti said racking up three ethics violations should have been enough grounds for Hasyim to be dismissed as KPU chair.

But she speculated that the DKPP refrained from doing so out of fear that removing Hasyim and appointing a replacement some nine days before the Feb.14 voting day could jeopardize the elections.

“I think the DKPP is aware of the technical difficulties [that would come from Hasyim’s dismissal] since the election is a ‘too big to fail’ situation. But I do think Hasyim should have been fired,” she said.

Another law expert Feri Amsari said the DKPP ruling had put the KPU’s integrity into question.

“[The DKPP ruling] increasingly confirms that the KPU intends to cheat [the rules] in its handling of the elections, particularly when it comes to Gibran’s candidacy,” Feri said.

Read also: Elections body criticized over debate confusion

The election body has several times found itself in hot water ahead of the February election, including when it implied last year that it would scrap the vice presidential debates and for enabling unofficial campaigns before the campaign season.

Unethical VP bid?

The ethics breach at the KPU is the second ethics scandal surrounding Gibran’s candidacy. The first happened in November when the Constitutional Court ethics council found that then-chief justice Anwar Usman – Gibran’s uncle – was guilty of an ethics violation for failing to recuse himself from the Oct. 16 ruling and for swaying his fellow justices.

Read also: Gibran’s candidacy cleared as House rubber-stamps top court’s ruling

The two ethics breaches, however, will have no immediate impact on Gibran’s VP bid given that neither the DKPP nor the Constitutional Court ethics council can nullify his candidacy.

Looking to dispel possible ethical concerns surrounding the Prabowo-Gibran pair, their campaigner Habiburokhman said the DKPP ruling had only affirmed that the Constitutional Court made the right call when deciding to alter the candidacy requirements. He also said that it was the KPU’s own fault for failing to amend its regulation on time.

“So it is increasingly clear that there is not a single shred of evidence that can be used as a basis to [accuse] Prabowo and Gibran as the ones who have committed ethical violations,” he said in a statement on Monday. (yer/yve)

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