Overseas votes swinging towards Jokowi

JAKARTA - Indonesian voters overseas appeared to back presidential candidate Joko Widodo over rival Prabowo Subianto in larger numbers, figures released by Indonesian missions abroad this week showed.

Mr Joko received almost 80 per cent of votes in Singapore, where 38,172 Indonesians voted in person at the embassy as well as by post.

He also got 75 per cent of the votes in Hong Kong and Macau, where 29,732 voted, but there was a minor skirmish when some complained they could not vote.

Data compiled by the Indonesian Diaspora Network showed Mr Joko with more than 70 per cent of votes in many missions in Australia, Europe and the Americas. Mr Prabowo pulled ahead only in parts of the Middle East and Myanmar.

Although some two million eligible Indonesian voters abroad make up a small fraction of the 190 million eligible voters overall, their participation has gained greater significance this time round given the close contest at last week's presidential election.

The bulk of these voters are also domestic workers or labourers, with pledges by both candidates to improve their well-being.

Many of them voted in person between July 4 and 6, but they could also vote by post, and their votes were due to be tallied up at some 130 overseas polling locations by Monday. These are then scheduled to be put together at the election commission in Jakarta tomorrow and Friday.

The voting process in Malaysia, however, was marred by controversy, with Mr Joko's campaign alleging widespread fraud.

"We have sent a team to investigate," Mr Joko said on Monday night in Surabaya, where he was monitoring the ongoing domestic vote tally.

He noted that he was leading when ballots of those who voted in person in Malaysia were counted, but votes for him fell sharply when those sent by post and dropbox were counted. "Something is surely up," he claimed.

Election officials had arranged for some 200 dropbox points at plantations and factories with a large number of Indonesian workers in Selangor, Perak, Kelantan and Terengganu to make it easier for them to vote.

The latest counts showed 83 per cent of some 53,000 voters handled by the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur backed Mr Prabowo.

Another 61 per cent of almost 70,000 voters dealt with by the Indonesian Consulate-general in Johor Baru also backed Mr Prabowo.

Worker advocacy group Migrant Care said the dropbox method was prone to abuse, and concerns have been raised that supervisors or foremen may be induced to carry out bloc voting on behalf of their workers.

Ms Rieke Diah Pitaloka, a member of Mr Joko's campaign team, told MetroTV that some of the ballot papers in Malaysia appeared to have been punctured at the same spot, suggesting they were stacked up and then punched at once.

But Mr Prabowo's campaign team member Fadli Zon was cited by news portal Tempo as saying: "Let us not add new issues. The issue of cheating at home has not been resolved."

Election Supervisory Board member Nelson Sumanjuntak told The Straits Times that these claims of irregularities in voting in Malaysia are being looked into.

These concerns are also echoed back home, where the ongoing tallying of votes was scheduled to be completed at the sub-district level yesterday and make its way to election commission branches at 497 regencies and cities today.

Both campaigns have alleged incidents of cheating in the ongoing vote count, with several cases of incorrect addition and deliberate inflation of numbers detected.


This article was first published on July 16, 2014.
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