Some Indonesian big shots could lose parliamentary seats

People sit as they watch electoral officials check ballot papers during vote counting at a polling station.

JAKARTA - A number of prominent politicians may lose their seats in the House of Representatives after early results based on quick counts conducted by a number of pollsters after the April 9 legislative election have indicated that they failed to obtain the minimum number of votes needed to secure a legislative seat.

Additionally, a few big-name non-incumbents will likely fail to enter the House, including Agriculture Minister Suswono of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS); deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, a candidate nominated by the United Development Party (PPP); and Deputy House Speaker Taufik Kurniawan of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Two notable lawmakers set to lose their seats are House Speaker Marzuki Alie and the outspoken Sutan Bhatoegana, both of the ruling Democratic Party, which fared poorly in the election.

"I'll return my focus to my business. I have nothing to lose," Sutan said on Sunday when asked about the prospect of losing his seat at the House.

Sutan said that foul play could have contributed to his poor showing in the legislative election.

"I have launched my own investigation. In fact, we have directly gone to my electoral district, North Sumatra I, and I should have secured the only seat my party got in the district," said Sutan, who has been implicated in the ongoing investigation into corruption at the Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas).

Provisional tallies have shown that Sutan lost the seat to fellow outspoken Democratic Party politician, Ruhut Sitompul.

Also, Marzuki has conceded that he would not be returning to the House with the next batch of lawmakers.

"During the campaign, I focused on improving the Democratic Party's electability, not my own," Marzuki said.

Marzuki acknowledged that widespread media coverage of corruption cases implicating former and current party members had contributed to the Dems' poor showing.

Based on the quick count results, the Democratic Party garnered only 9.7 per cent of the vote, down from 20.8 per cent in 2009.


Meanwhile, Golkar Party lawmaker Poempida Hidayatulloh has resigned himself to defeat and he blamed the loss of his seat on rampant vote-buying.

"This year's legislative election was among the worst. Not only the rampant vote-buying, but I also received reports about poorly organised balloting in numerous polling booths. Officials at the local level were also proven to be incompetent, opening up chances for foul play and fraud," he said.

Poempida said he would focus on running his NGO, the People's Welfare Organisation (Orkestra), should he fail retain his seat.

Also expected to lose her seat in the House is Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari, who is known for her stance on human rights and religious intolerance.

"I am ready to accept any result. My chances are indeed small. I suspect it was because of a 'pre-dawn raid'," she said, referring to a blitz of vote-buying that allegedly occurred on Election Day morning before voters went to the polls.

Eva also blamed her lackluster performance on widespread violations related to the current open-list system.

"In 2004, when elections still used the closed-list system, fraud had not been as bad as it was in 2014 when money played a huge factor," she said.

"Voters openly asked me for money but I opted to offer only forms of aid, such as basic clean water facilities and other things," Eva said. "But I can't understand why they favoured candidates who gave them Rp 50,000 (S$5.50) to Rp 100,000 early in the morning instead."

Jakarta-based pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) recently released the results of its quick count, which was based on analysis of vote tallies in 2,000 sample polling stations, showing that numerous other prominent figures could fail to get seats in the House.

Among them are human rights activist and lawyer Taufik Basari of the NasDem Party, economist and former lawmaker Didik J. Rachbini of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and Crescent Star Party (PBB) chairman MS Kaban.

The results also showed that popular figures from the entertainment industry, who were expected to be big vote getters, would fail to win House seats.

Among them are musician Dwiki Dharmawan, singer Ida Royani, rocker Ikang Fawzi and actor Jeremy Thomas, all of PAN; actress Jane Shalimar (NasDem); Vicky Rhoma Irama and Ridho Rhoma (PKB), the sons of self-styled king of dangdut Rhoma Irama; and B-movie actress Angel Lelga of PPP.


Missed the cut

1. Marzuki Alie House speaker/Democratic Party executive. Jakarta III

2. Taufik Kurniawan Deputy House speaker/PAN secretary-general. Central Java VII

3. Lukman Hakim Saifuddin Deputy speaker for People's Consultative Assembly (MPR)/PPP deputy chairman. Central Java VI

4. Ramadhan Pohan Legislator/Democratic Party deputy secretary. North Sumatra I

5. Arif Wibowo Legislator/PDI-P secretary for election. East Java IV

6. Hajriyanto Y. Thohari MPR deputy speaker/Golkar Party executive. Central Java IV

7. Effendy Choirie Legislator/NasDem Party. East Java X

8. Hayono Isman Legislator/Democratic Party executive. Jakarta I

9. Inggrid Kansil Legislator/Democratic Party politician. West Java IV

10. Ahmad Yani Legislator/ PPP executive. South Sumatra I

11. Nova Riyanti Yusuf Legislator/Democratic Party politician. East Java VI

12. Suswono Agriculture minister/PKS executive. Central Java X

13. Sutan Bhatoegana Legislator/Democratic Party politician. North Sumatra I