Public hearing on electoral fraud closed after allegations of Palace intervention

Source – January 11, 2023
Screenshot of alleged WhatsApp conversation between KPU officials – January 11, 2023 (Detik)

Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – A public hearing (RDPU) on Wednesday January 11 between the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission II and an alliance of non-government (LSM) organisations calling themselves the Civil Society Coalition for Safeguarding Clean Elections, was suddenly closed down after proceeding for only 22 minutes.

The decision to close the hearings to the public was made by Commission II Chairperson Ahmad Doli Kurnia after a Coalition representative from the Network for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (Netgrit), Hadar Nafis Gumay, who is also a former General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner, presented findings on alleged intervention by the Presidential Palace in the factual verification process for political parties seeking to be participants in the 2024 elections.

The findings were in the form of a WhatsApp screenshot of communication between KPU members in one of the provinces, which dug up the issue of alleged attempts to change the membership data of the Indonesian People's Wave Party (Gelora Party) so that they would meet the requirements (MS) to pass the factual verification stage on the KPU's Political Party Information System (Sipol).

The conversation cited the names of several national KPU officials including KPU commissioners Idham Holik, August Mellaz and Yulianto Sudrajat, KPU General Secretary (Sekjen) Bernad Darmawan Sutrisno and several state institutions.

The following is the contents of the conversation:

1. Just now Pak [Mr] Idham [Holik] phoned me, after speaking with Pak Idham a detailed report was given by Pak Agus Melas [August Mellaz], the essence being:

1. Currently they're sitting down with Pak Idham, Pak Agus, Pak Drajat [Yulianto Sudrajat] and the Pak Sekjen. While communicating with Pak HA [not specified] who is in Padang [West Sumatra].

2. In a moment the Sekjen will instruct Sek Prov X [provincial secretary X] to communicate with the Sipol administrators from several regencies/municipalities to MS [pass] Gelora.

3. This move must be done for the sake of our wellbeing because of a Palace request via the mendagri [Ministry of Home Affairs], the menkopolhukam [Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs], and so on.

4. Pak Agus also said that he has already contacted Pak X because this is a technical job, so I've been contacted by Pak Idam [Idham Holik] and Pak Agus, asking us to secure it.

The conversation was being read out by Gumay when he was suddenly interrupted by Kurnia.

"Just a moment, Pak. I think, I apologise to everyone, because this mentions, is related to several parties who of course need to be confirmed, I think that this meeting, we'll shift from the earlier public [format] to a closed [meeting]", said the Golkar Party politician.

Gumay then questioned Kurnia's decision. "This is public information, right, why, wouldn't it be better if we're open", he asserted.

Kurnia replied that the conversation mentions the names of institutions and this is of concern in itself because it requires further confirmation.

"We have to confirm this report, or it will spread everywhere, so I ask for agreement from our leaders' friends that we shift it to a closed [format]", continued Kurnia, followed by the striking of his gavel.

"I ask that our media friends who [heard this] just earlier, because I ask them to understand, this mentions several parties, the certainty of which must of course be confirmed, so please take it [the screenshot projection of the WhatsApp conversation] down. Please", he concluded.

Late last year, this alleged intervention was also revealed by a lawyer from the Themis Indonesia Law Firm, Ibnu Syamsu Hidayat.

"Our suspicion is, that with the Gelora Party, we also suspect that (fraud) occurred. Then, the Garuda Party [the Indonesian Reform Movement Party], and also with the PKN [the National Populist Party] (we) suspect fraud occurred", said Hidayat at the KPU building in Jakarta on Tuesday December 13.

Hidayat said that the fraud was allegedly committed by KPU members and officials at the national level along with KPU members and officials at the provincial, regency and municipal level.

Hidayat said that this fraud was committed by changing the political parties' data on the Sipol and changing the status of the three political parties from TMS (Requirements Not Met) to MS (Requirements Met).

KPU national General Secretary Bernad Darmawan Sutrisno has denied accusations of his involvement in manipulating the results of the political parties' factual verification.

'The accusations that I intimidated and threatened [local KPU officials] through a video call on November 7, 2022, is untrue", Sutrisno told on Sunday December 18.

"Because every activity has a technical team that has the task of explaining the substance", he added.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has declared his surprise that the Palace has been accused of intervening to determine if a political party passes or fails the verification process to participate in the elections.

Widodo asserted that all decisions on this are the authority of the KPU and there was no interference by the Palace.

"Matters pertaining to the success or not of participants in the 2024 elections, that's actually up to the KPU, a matter for the KPU, but those making all sorts of accusations because they didn't pass immediately start pointing the figure, [saying] 'the Palace is interfering, the great power is interfering, the great power is intervening'", said Widodo at the 16th anniversary of the Hanura Party at the Jakarta Convention Center on Wednesday December 21.

Widodo then said that he does not know anything at all about the determination of which political parties that will take part in the elections. He also asserted that the KPU is an independent institution.

He said therefore that the government does not interfere in the determination of election participants, let alone intervene in this.


According to a report by the Jakarta Post in December last year, the Gelora Party had its eligibility falsified because it is a rival of the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), having been formed following a split within the PKS in 2019. Likewise the PKN is likely to rival the Democrat Party as many of its members were drawn away from the Democrats. The PKS and the Democrats are not part of President Widodo's ruling coalition and position themselves as a parliamentary opposition. The Garuda Party meanwhile has been deeply involved in the judicial reviews filed against the Elections Law at the Constitutional Court, one of which resulted in allowing government ministers to run as election candidates.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Sipil Ungkap Dugaan Instruksi Loloskan Partai Gelora, Rapat DPR Langsung Ditutup".]