Various news outlets reported on the polling scene at the Indonesian embassy in Singapore on Sunday morning (14 April) where Indonesians turned up in droves to cast their votes in this year’s presidential elections.
The Indonesians based in Singapore did not want to miss the chance to make their votes count in choosing between current president Joko Widodo (better known as Jokowi) and former general Prabowo Subianto; a reprise of their contest from the 2014 elections.
Although the actual elections of the 8th president and vice-president of Indonesia will be held on 17 April, the Indonesian election commission recorded a total of 38,106 voters in Singapore by the end of the day; an increase from 22,266 voters who had shown up for the previous elections.
The number of voters in Singapore made up part of 192 million voters from 34 provinces during this year’s elections. A total of 8,149 votes had been delivered by mail, but the final count will only be known this Wednesday.
About 450 Indonesians helped out with the polling process. Other embassies who are also holding their polling activities include those in Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
On the presidential election, 31-year old Ms Diana Kea told Channel News Asia that it was a “big decision for the country” which motivated her to leave home early and arrive at the front of the doors before 8 am. She also mentioned that her friend in Melbourne, Australia informed her that the queue on Saturday was “quite crazy”.
“We all have expectations of how the country and the Government should grow … but there’s a lot of politics involved.” She added that President Jokowi is “doing well”, considering that it’s “not easy to manage Indonesia”. She also stated that “integrity and responsibility” would factor in her decision between the two candidates.
Another voter, Christian priest Bigman Sirait, came to vote in an ambulance. His doctors initially disallowed him from leaving due to his recent heart surgery, but they managed to compromise with officials who brought the voting slip to Mr Bigman in the ambulance.
“I may be sick but I will fight the battle. What’s the point of confessing to be [sic] an Indonesian if I do nothing today. If I don’t exercise my right to stand to be counted, I’m a coward,” he said.
46-year-old foreign domestic worker Rasam, who reached the Indonesia embassy at 6.20 am, commented that the election is “very important” for the country and that the candidates’ past actions and achievements would aid her decision.
Other voters such as 46-year-old businessman Darma was happy to vote, stressing that “it is the right of every Indonesian to vote” and that “every vote counts”. He said that the presidential race boils down to whether one wants a fresh voice in power or to continue with the current mandate. “It’s quite a stark contrast actually, between populism and progressiveness,” he added.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Bing Halim, who had been living in Singapore for 3 years, said that he and his family felt that it was “better if Jokowi stays as president”.
Former president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was among those who showed his support.
“This is a new experience for me,” he said about voting in Singapore. “I’m happy because it is done well. I could see that the organisation is good … The spirits of the Indonesian people are very good. I’m very happy as a former leader so hopefully, it will bring good things for our country.”
His wife, who is receiving treatment at the National University Hospital (NUH) for blood cancer, also voted and commended the organisation of the event.
The ambassador, Ngurah Swajaya, told reporters that the votes collected will be held in a secure location within embassy grounds, monitored by 24/7 CCTV and national police, “to make sure that security is maintained”.
He said that “all the apparatus of the election” – election commission, election supervisory board, witnesses from different political parties – are here to ensure the smooth running of the election “in accordance with the principle of the Indonesia election, which is free, fair and secret”.