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Bali's Grim Political Future

Seminar in Bali Looks at the Dismal Quality of Candidates Seeking Legislative Office

(8/25/2013) Bali’s Provincial Election Commission (KPUD-Bali) has formally endorsed the Fixed List of Candidates (DCT) for the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) eligible to stand for election in 2014. 

 
According to The Bali Post, many circles view the current stable of legislative candidates as generally lacking in quality, much below the desired standard for leaders. Moreover, many of these standing for office have poor track records, with some having past involvement in project manipulation or involvement in cases of corruption.
 
Because of this, there is the concern that if the quality of candidates remains low those elected to office will be unable to properly perform the job of developing Bali or undertake the responsibility of monitoring policies and policy-makers against possible acts of malfeasance. The Bali Post concludes that the current crop of those seeking office means the future of Bali is potentially very grim.
 
This was also the conclusion put forth in a discussion entitled “The Quality of Legislative Candidates for 2013 and How to Prevent Rotten Politicians from Taking office” held in Bali on Wednesday, August 21, 2013.
 
The forum was attended by political observers including Professor Made Subawa of Udayana University’s Faculty of Law, KPUD-Bali member Kadek Raka Wiarsa Sandhi, political science professor Dr. Ida Bagus Radendra Suastama of Bali’s Hindu University, the rector of the Faculty of Sociology and Politics at Udayana University Gusti Putu Bagus Suka Arjawa and the rector of the Faculty of Sociology and Politics at Ngurah Rai University Dr. Luh Rinti Rahayu.
 
KPUD-Bali member Dewa Kadek Raka Wiarsa Sandhi announced that the Provincial Election Commission is ready to hold an open plenary session to set the candidates for the DPRD-Bali. “Later we will also publish the DCT in the local newspapers. We hope the people can become proactive in studying both the names and the track records of each legislative candidate,” said Wiarsa.
 
In reviewing the candidates contained in the DCT, Professor Subawa concluded that not all of those standing for office were of high quality. In fact, he said the number of poor quality candidates predominates. Moreover, he claimed there were several running for office that qualified as rotten politicians with past involvements in corruption cases or other legal entanglements. Adding: “If this if the quality of candidates, how will we elect responsible representatives once the House of Representatives is seated? Thus, the future of Bali is increasingly grim if the people’s representatives are without quality, lack good moral standards and are without integrity.”
 
Subawa said that those seeking to sit in the legislature should possess three qualities. First, he or she should know how to draft laws and regulations. Second, be able to effectively monitor the actions of the executive and, thirdly, be able to control the provincial budget. The respected professor of law bemoaned that many legislative candidates were ignorant in these areas. At the same time, the political parties do not educate their cadres on the responsibilities of a legislator. 
 
Making his point, Subawa cited how the DPRD-Bali has been unable to monitor and control the Island’s executive under the term of governor Pastika. He claimed that many of the policies of the governor were exploitative of Bali natural environment – such as the decrees for exploitation of the mangrove forest and reclamation of Benoa Bay – both of which managed to get by without and control or check by the DPRD-Bali.
 
Subawa asked: “Where were the voices of the legislature in Renon when the people of Bali protested the reclamation/ There stance was gray and the DPRD-Bali as an institution was also gray.”
 
Continuing, the law professor underlined the lack of preparations for those aspiring to be legislators. Standards, he insists, are needed for those wishing to advance themselves to serve as lawmakers before they can be placed on the DCT. The current lack of standards, complains Subawa, leaves the people with little choice in electing legislators.
 
He went on to blame the political parties operating at the moment for failing to recruit, trains and select qualified candidates for the provincial legislature.
 
Meanwhile, Raka Sandhi, admitted there was little public review or input on legislative candidates with little or no information submitted on the past track records of those seeking office.
 
Sandhi fears the lack of public participation has left the people largely apathetic about the political process. 
 
Sandhi admitted that there were a number of candidates involved in corruption cases, either as suspects or convicted of past crimes, such a the Hanura Party candidate from Tabanan Wayan Sukaja and the PDI-P candidate from Bangli Hening Puspotarini. The current rules, however, do not ban convicted felons from running for office if their case is still on legal appeal.