Bengkulu Newspapers Seized Amid Reports of Smear Campaign


NOVEMBER 03, 2015

Bengkulu, South Sumatra. The Bengkulu Police on Monday confiscated over 100,000 copies of a local newspaper, which allegedly contained slanderous information about a pair of local candidates running in next month's regional election.

The newspapers were found on Sunday by the Local Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) in a bus in Lubuk Linggau city, on the outskirts of Bengkulu, bound for town.

Panwaslu reported the find to Bengkulu Police, who seized both the newspapers and the bus.

Koran Bengkulu reportedly prints its Sunday edition outside of the province, which is then transported into Bengkulu.

Usin Abiyadi, campaign secretary for the Ridwan Mukti-Rohidin Mersyah joint ticket, confirmed the incident had targeted the pair.

“We have asked the Bengkulu Police and the Elections Supervisory Agency [Bawaslu] to legally handle the case,” he said on Tuesday.

Bengkulu Police Chief Brig. Gen. M. Ghufron on Monday said police were awaiting further advice from Bawaslu before investigating the alleged smear campaign.

The candidates have been the target of smear campaigns before, with the team reporting similar cases to the Press Council in Jakarta. The reports are still under investigation.

As the election date approaches incidents have risen, including the physical assault of a KPUD official in Central Java by a candidate's campaign team last week.

Watchdog group the People's Voter Education Network (JPPR) on Oct. 22 said it had found a 5 to 7 percent increase in the number of voters, far above the usual 2 percent growth, indicating possible "ghost voters" and calling on election officials to be extra vigilant in preparing for the elections.

Indonesia will for the first time stage simultaneous regional elections in more than 200 provinces, districts and cities on Dec. 9.