Indonesia’s election commission chairman sacked over sexual harassment; no disruption expected for November’s regional polls

by Admin
Indonesia’s election commission chairman sacked over sexual harassment; no disruption expected for November’s regional polls

JAKARTA: The chairman of Indonesia’s general election commission (KPU) has been fired for sexual harassment and his replacement appointed, with a commission member promising there would be no disruption to the country’s regional elections in November. 

Mr Hasyim Asyari, who was appointed KPU chairman in 2022, was found guilty by the Election Organisation Ethics Council (DKPP) on Wednesday (Jul 3) of sexually harassing a poll official based in The Hague in the Netherlands. 

The woman, identified by her initials CAT, was part of an overseas election organising committee. The KPU typically hires Indonesian citizens who live abroad or members of its diaspora to help with overseas voting and other election-related duties.

Mr Hasyim had misused his authority and state resources to compel the official to have sex with him at a hotel in Amsterdam in October last year, the DKPP found. 

According to a complaint by the plaintiff, Mr Hasyim, who is married with three children, promised to marry CAT, provide her with lifelong protection and safeguard her good name and mental health.

He also promised to call CAT at least once a day, failing which he was willing to pay her IDR 4 billion (US$245,262) in instalments over four years.

Mr Hasyim has “failed to maintain a balance between personal and public interests” in mixing personal desires with official duties, DKPP member Muhammad Tio Aliansyah was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

DKPP chairman Heddy Lugito ordered Mr Hasyim’s removal as KPU chairman, and the council recommended that President Joko Widodo formally remove him no later than seven days after the ruling. 

The president will follow up with a decree on his dismissal, said Presidential Special Staff Coordinator Ari Dwipayana on Thursday (Jul 4).

Mr Hasyim, who previously denied the sexual harassment allegations, has a series of other violations committed in the running of elections in Indonesia. 

In February, the DKPP issued him a final stern warning after he was found guilty of an ethical breach last October for accepting the registration of Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka – Mr Widodo’s son – as vice-presidential running mate of Mr Prabowo Subianto. At the time, the KPU had yet to adjust the minimum age qualification for presidential and vice-presidential candidates. 

After the dismissal, Mr Hasyim said: “Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) and I thank the DKPP for relieving me from the heavy tasks as a member of the KPU, which organises elections.”

A member of the KPU, Mr Idham Holik, said Mr Hasyim’s dismissal would not disrupt November’s regional elections, where Indonesians will elect their governors, regents and mayors.

“Regarding the implementation of the regional election stages, it will run as scheduled,” Mr Idham told CNBC Indonesia on Thursday. 

The KPU has appointed another commission member, Mr Mochammad Afifudin, as acting chairman.

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