Miseries behind Indonesia’s successful fiesta of democracy

The residents of Peulokan Village in Labuhan Haji Barat Subdistrict, South Aceh District, Aceh Province, have lost one of their neighbors, who died of exhaustion owing to overwork at a polling station.

The death of expectant mother Muridah has not just brought grief to her husband, families, and neighbors, but the passing in this Peulokan villager has also extended the death toll of the working committee members of polling stations.

As of Friday, or ten days after the convening of the parliamentary and presidential elections reportedly participated in by more than 80 percent of some 192 million eligible voters on April 17, 230 polling station working committee members have died.

According to the General Elections Commission (KPU), they lost their lives due to exhaustion or meeting with traffic accidents amid their hectic work schedules, while 1,671 others fell ill.

These people were in charge of manning different ballot booths across Indonesia’s 25 provinces. To add to these cases, no fewer than 33 Elections Supervisory Committee members and 15 policemen also lost their lives while tending to electoral duties.

Muridah might have died of exhaustion owing to being overworked for nearly 10 days as a polling station working committee member, but local hospital doctors managed to save her baby, Spokesman of the Aceh Independent Elections Commission (KIP) Agusni AH remarked.

Muridah, who was eight months’ pregnant, died at the Teuku Pekan Public Hospital on Saturday morning. The Aceh Independent Elections Commission conveyed its deepest and heartfelt condolences to her kin.

Muridah fell sick several days before and was then moved to a health center in Labuhan Haji Barat Sub-district prior to her hospitalization at the Teuku Pekan Public Hospital for two days, he revealed.

Her condition continued deteriorating, and doctors at the public hospital took the decision to save her baby. However, they could not save the mother’s life, Agusni AH noted.

The similar miseries are also felt by four families in the East Java city of Surabaya. This city lost four residents who died after having been overworked at four polling stations around the capital city of East Java Province on April 17.

The Surabaya city government revealed on Saturday that the four dead polling station committee workers were identified as Sunaryo, Thomy Heru Siswantoro, Badrul Munir, and Hariono.

Sunaryo, 58, was chairman of the polling station working committee/polling station number 13 in Kapas Madya Baru Village, Tambak Sari, while Tomny Heru Siswantoro was a member of the polling station number 19 in Pacar Keling Village, Tambak Sari Subdistrict.

Badrul Munir was as a member of polling station number 19 in Kedung Baruk Village, Rungkut Subdistrict, and Hariono, 36, was a security guard from Kandangan Village in Benowo Subdistrict who was in charge of securing polling station number 45.

Accompanied by several officials of the Surabaya city government, Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini visited the family of Hariono, who died of exhaustion on April 22 on Saturday.

Rismaharini and her entourage were warmly welcomed by Hariono’s wife, Mukholifah, at her home. During the meeting, Mukholifah asked Rismaharini’s help in finding her a job that would enable her to make a living to support her children.

In response to the request, Rismaharini said she promised to find a job for her at a health center in the Kandangan neighborhood. “I will try to help to lessen the burden of this family,” the Surabaya mayor told journalists.

The city of Bogor in West Java Province also lost two residents. Chairman of Bogor City’s General Elections Commission (KPU) Samsudin revealed that they were heads of polling station working committees who died of fatigue.

They were identified as Anwar Sofyan, head of KPPS number 75 in Tegal Gundil Village; and Rasti, head of KPPS number 31 in Bondongan Village. Six others are being treated in hospital and homes due to exhaustion and traffic accidents, Samsudin revealed.

In response to the deaths of his two residents who run the polling stations, caused by exhaustion, Bogor Mayor Bima Arya has urged the KPU to evaluate the simultaneous convening of parliamentary and presidential elections.

“The deaths of residents involving the polling station working committees are huge enough. We must evaluate this simultaneous election model. What is its implication on health? This is necessarily evaluated,” he recently told ANTARA in Bogor.

Bima Arya underlined the importance of managing the age limit of those recruited for being part of the polling station working committees, to anticipate the repeated occurrence of fatalities in the future.

Therefore, as part of the evaluation, young people should get involved in the polling station working committees by considering their physical strength and persistence, he said, adding that the ballot booths are used to being handled by senior citizens.

Bima Arya showed his sympathy to his city’s residents who died of exhaustion or are being treated in hospitals due to fatigue and traffic accidents amid their busy works on the 2019 Parliamentary and Presidential Elections at their polling stations.

“I have attempted to visit them all. They become ill due to fatigue. I will immediately check those involving in the real count process. Do not force them. We do not want to see more victims,” he said.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto commented on the deaths of so many members of the polling station working committee, elections supervisory committee, and policemen, who were fulfilling electoral duties.

While appreciating the peaceful completion of the democratic process, Wiranto deplored the deaths of members of the polling station working committees, elections supervisory committees, and security personnel during the electoral process.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Fahri Hamzah also commented on the deaths of those running, supervising, and securing the polling stations in different parts of Indonesia by seeking out those responsible for their deaths.

He bluntly conveyed in his official Twitter account https://twitter.com/Fahrihamzah that no one was responsible for their own deaths.

“In our situation, many assume that if lots of people fall down, we immediately call them heroes. But, none is responsible for their deaths. We are permissive with lives of humans, and we are permissive with a failure celebrated as a success,” he twetted.

Source: ANTARA News