The last in a series of three public debates scheduled for Friday, May 10, 2013, between the gubernatorial tickets of Made Mangku Pastika-Ketut Sudikerta and AA Puspayoga and Dewa Sukrawan went ahead without the participation of the PDIP candidates.
The televised debate at the Aston Hotel in Denpasar changed from debate to an oration by the current governor and his running mater when Puspayoga and Sukrawan excused themselves, claiming they would prefer instead to pray.
The surprise non-appearance by Puspayoga-Sukrawan was announced to the Bali Election Commission (KPU-Bali) via a formal letter from their campaign team sent only one day prior to the scheduled debate.
A technical meeting held at the debate venue on Thursday also saw no representative of the PDIP ticket in attendance.
In an attempt to safeguard the debate process, previously agreed to by all parties, KPU-Bali immediately communicated with the Puspayoga-Sukrawan’s ticket urging that the original plan for the final debate be honored.
Ketut Sukawati Lanang Putra Perbawa, the chairman of KPU-Bali, explained to the press that the PDIP candidate had informed the Election Commission that they would be attending religious ceremonies instead of participating in the debate.
The secretary of the PDIP in Bali, Nyoman Adi Wiryatama, defended the decision saying that while the candidates honored the electoral process, a busy program of religious activities prevented their participation. Said Wiryatama: “We will be praying at a number of temples in Bali together with the campaign team. The debate is important, but this is an issue involving the Almighty.”
Wiryatama extended his apology to the KPU-Bali and Metro TV who were hosting the televised debate. Meanwhile, the secretariat general of the PDIP-Bali, Hasto Kristiano, provide more insights on the sudden cancellation that indicate "plans to pray rather than debate" may be, at best, a disingenuous explanation for the candidate's non-appearance.
Hasto outlined three principle reasons behind his candidate’s decision not to participate in the third debate - none of which mentioned prayer. First, according to Hasto, two debates have already been televised and the material covered was already sufficient for the public to consider. Secondly, because of the fast approaching election on May 15, 2013, Hasto feels the little time remaining be best used for developing harmony, peace and maintaining the conduciveness of the coming vote. Third, Hasto believes that the second debate held at The Grand Bali Beach Hotel in Sanur saw Pastika and his supporter become too emotional and the PDIP did not wish to see a repeat of “emotionalism” in a third debate.
As a result of the three reasons listed AA Puspayaoga and the PDIP party members purportedly decided a program of ritual and prayer was preferable to a third debate before the public.
As a result of the late decision by PDIP-Bali not to participate in the debate, Metro TV in Bali televised a “debate” in which AA Ngurah Puspayoga and Dewa Nyoman Sukrawan failed to appear, allowing governor Pastika and his running mate Sudikerta to have the stage to themselves for the entire program.
Pastika opened the televised program by outlining his plans for development if he is re-elected to the post of Governor for 2013-2018. Among the programs Governor Pastika desire to continue and expand in his next term is the Bali Mandara Medicare program, the integrated agricultural program, and the continuing repair of low-income housing.
One of the expert panelist selected to moderate the “debate” told the State News Agency Antara that in his experience as a panelist on political debates, the refusal of a candidate to attend a programmed debate was a "first" in Indonesian politics.
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