WORLD

App lets Thais report election violations

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 4, 2014 - 19:20
  • Updated : Feb 4, 2014 - 19:20

If you care about the 2014 election and you want to make sure the democratic process runs smoothly and fairly, then all you need is your smartphone.

An application called Mata Massa is now ready to download to enable budding tech-savvy voters to report election violations ahead of the polls.

The application was created by the Alliance of Independent Journalists in collaboration with an alliance of NGOs, such as election watchdog the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem).

According to Perludem researcher Veri Junaidi, the application is one of the innovations aimed at encouraging wider public participation in democracy. “Why are people generally lazy to report election violations? First, it is because the process of filing a report is far too complicated as it is a legal process,” he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

“They have to come to the Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu) and present evidence and witnesses.”

On top of that, he added, most people were afraid that the Bawaslu could not guarantee their anonymity should they file a report. “In the end, people are discouraged to report violations such as dirty campaigns and money politics,” he said. “This is a challenge that needed to be answered by the Bawaslu. But I haven’t seen any movement from them.”

With the new application, Veri argued that people could now report election violations in the palm of their hands. “When they make a report, their identities will remain secret,” he said. “There is a team who will verify the report and later conform it in accordance with the Bawaslu’s report template, which is extremely complicated. Therefore, the Bawaslu’s rigid report guideline is simplified (by the application).”

If the team deemed that the report still lacked something, such as details of the violation, they would contact the person who reported it, said Veri.

With a file size of less than 2 megabytes, the application is easy to download with an easy-to-use interface. Looking ahead, Veri said the coalition of NGOs and AJI would promote the application to raise public awareness.

“We will soon have 200 key persons (who are trained by us to promote the application and also report election violations through the application) who will begin working with us,” he said. “The key persons could come from specific organizations as well as those who are not affiliated with any organization. They could be students, journalists and so on.”

According to Veri, after the coalition finishes training the 200 people, they will target regular people, such as housewives. “The challenge is when we already have the application, we have to make it a mass movement,” he said. “It means someone who has never been involved in an election, is encouraged to also report election violations. Our target is that before the 2014 general election, everyone will be able use the application.”

The application is the latest example of how technology has changed Indonesian political life in 2014. More and more politicians are now reaching out to their constituents through social media platforms, and more Indonesians have become accustomed to discussing politics online.

Also on Saturday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono uploaded a video on YouTube, in which he urged political parties and election candidates to refrain from using black campaigns and other dirty tactics. “I strongly oppose the practice of black campaigns. It’s morally wrong and unethical,” he said in the seven-minute video.

“I would also like to ask political party chairpersons and presidential election candidates to not add heat to a particular situation to create unnecessary conflicts in our society.”

By Hans Nicholas Jong

(The Jakarta Post)