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Cast votes, Indonesians residing in Sabah urged
Published on: Friday, February 14, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Indonesians residing in the State have been urged to fulfil their obligations and cast their votes in the upcoming general election to elect representatives to the parliament as well as the next Indonesian President.

The Consul General for the Indonesian Consulate in Sabah, Soepeno Sahid, said that currently a total of 158,320 Indonesians are eligible voters scattered throughout the State.

Soepeno, whose tenure in Sabah will finish at the end of this month, said Sabah has the third biggest number of Indonesian voters in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur (400,000) and Johore Baru (320,000).

In Tawau alone, about 58,000 Indonesians are expected to cast their votes.

He also advised eligible Indonesians to register themselves as voters to be able to cast their votes during the legislative election on April 6 and presidential election on July 9.

"All Indonesians aged 17 years and above are eligible. Those younger than that but already married are also eligible to vote," he said during a press briefing here Thursday.

Soepeno said the consulate will place a total of 14 ballot stations at the consulate building and its high school, Sekolah Indonesia Kota Kinabalu (SIKK), starting from March 30 until voting day on April 6.

About 150,000 voters are expected to use the drop boxes to cast their votes early while, the remaining voters opt to vote on April 6 at the consulate building.

"The actual date for legislative election is April 9 but for overseas voters, it was fixed for April 6. The presidential election will be carried out simultaneously worldwide on July 9," he said.

This time around, only 15 parties including three Aceh parties will be taking part in the election, a stark contrast to the 2009 election where a total of 38 parties were registered for the election.

Indonesia's legislature elections are divided into four levels. The first is the national level for the People's Representative Council (DPR) with 560 seats contested.

The second is the national level for the Regional Representative Council (Senators) with 132 seats or four senators for all 33 regions.

The next level is the province level with a total of 2,137 seats while the lowest level is the regency level with 17,560 seats for mayors.

Each party can field more than one candidate for DPR and in the event of the winner deciding to resign later, the next candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes will take the place of the resigned winner.

The results of this election will be instrumental to the presidential election in July due to the requirement that a presidential ticket must be supported by a party or coalition of parties winning at least 20 per cent vote in the DPR or 25 per cent of the popular votes in the parliamentary elections.

The presidential election will be Indonesia's third direct presidential election and will elect a president for a five-year term. Incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in office.

"The results for the election for mayors can be obtained as early as 12 days after the election. For governors, 15 days while for parliament (DPR), a month later," said Soepeno.

He also expressed his hope that the State government will work closely with the consulate to ensure a smooth and incident-free election day.

He advised Indonesians who wish to cast their votes to bring along their Indonesian identity cards and passports.

"The deadline to register as voters is March 21," he said.

Eligible but unregistered voters could register themselves by going directly to the consulate or through online registration at http://www.kemlu.go.id/kotakinabalu.

Meanwhile, Soepeno said up to Thursday, the number of illegal immigrants from Indonesia currently being held in both Temporary Detention Centres in Sibuga and Kimanis is less than 500 people.

"During the amnesty period from July 2011 to Nov 2012, our consulates in Kota Kinabalu and Tawau have produced more than 125,000 passports mostly to Indonesian workers here.

"We have published many notices encouraging our people to come and apply for legal documents but if they refused and did not take advantage of the offer, that is beyond our control because we could not force them," he said.

Soepeno also said the consulates have received many applications from plantations to produce passports for their workers after the amnesty period was over but the consulates have refused their requests.

"We have given them ample time to apply, almost one and a half years.

I was worried because during the operation, I have always reminded them to ensure those vulnerable like children, women and the elderly are treated well.

"It is pitiful to see children below five years old arrested and have to be separated from their parents.

Therefore, I hope the Immigration Department would consider extraditing them sooner as long as they are not involved in other cases.

"Most of them only committed small crimes like not possessing legal documents or overstayed.

We have always given our fullest cooperation to the local authorities," he said.

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