Indonesia Is Making Progress Towards Disabled-Friendly Elections

Indonesia Is Making Progress Towards Disabled-Friendly Elections
Credit: Public Domain
What you need to know

Indonesia has made an effort to make its 2019 presidential election the friendliest ever for disabled voters.

Listen
powered by Cyberon

Indonesia is home to a large population of disabled residents – approximately 11 million disabled people live in the archipelago country. While issues facing Indonesia’s disabled population have not been highlighted very much in the country’s presidential campaign, efforts have been made to ensure that disabled voters are accommodated at the polls on election day.

Disabled Indonesians at a glance

Various institutions have reported different numbers on how many disabled people live in Indonesia.

1qcdw9tpicqh68o4mjgp7jpzug7lt2
Credit: Reuters / TPG
A group of blind musicians hold onto one another as they walk in Tanah Abang train station in Jakarta on March 24, 2011.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 15 percent of the world’s population consists of people with disabilities. Indonesia alone has around 11 million people with disabilities, including those in five categories: sight impairment (around 3.47 million people) physical disabilities (3.01 million), hearing disabilities (2.55 million), mental disabilities (1.39 million) and chronic disabilities (1.16 million).

Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration reports that there are around 7 million disabled people in Indonesia. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, counts around 24 million people. At the same time, in the 2019 Permanent Voters List (DPT) from the General Election Commission (KPU), there are around 1.25 million registered disabled voters in the country.

This difference in numbers will certainly be a problem the election as the accessibility of elections for persons with disabilities can easily be miscalculated. The number of Indonesians reporting disabilities seems to be swelling. For example, in the Regional Head General Elections (Pilkada) in Aceh, there has been around a 250 percent increase in disabled people exercising their right to vote. This means that they may not be recorded while they are in need of assistance in exercising their right to vote.

Securing the right to vote

The struggle for disabled people in obtaining their rights in Indonesia has a long history. One of them is the right to vote in an election. Elections, as a forum to convey participation in public sphere, should ensure that all the rights of voters from any group can be reached, including those with disabilities.

This is because the enactment of Indonesia’s Law No. 8 concerning Persons with Disabilities will certainly give more moral responsibility to the KPU to reach them as one of the groups that are specifically designated. This means that they should receive special handling in terms of accessibility, such as special facilities, assistance and socialization. When these individuals are registered as voters, they not only receive voting rights but also accessibility. This access is expected to attract their interest in exercising their right to vote.

The Association of Indonesian Disabled Persons (PPDI) is Indonesia’s largest organization of persons with disabilities. PPDI has worked to ensure the fulfillment of the rights of disabled individuals, including their right to vote in an election. KPUs in the regions and provinces have also tried to cooperate with PPDI in making efforts to fulfill their rights, such as delivering special socialization to PPDI in more remote regions to enable disabled voters to find out about democracy and elections.

The birth of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections has become a breath of fresh air for persons with disabilities for their struggle so far. In the law, Article 5 letter (h) states: “Persons with disabilities who meet the requirements have the same opportunity as other voters, as candidates for the People’s Representative Council (DPR) members, as candidates for the Regional Representative Council (DPD) members, as candidates for President and Vice President, as candidates for the People’s Regional Representative Council (DPRD) members and as an organizer.”

While, so far, organizers feel that they only have a moral burden on Law No. 8 concerning persons with disabilities, the birth of Law No. 7 clarifies the right to disability in a democracy in this nation. The birth of this law ensures that the participation of disabled voters receives special consideration in the upcoming presidential election.

The creation of Relawan Demokrasi (Democracy Volunteers) to be the organizing partner of KPU also makes disabled a target for minorities who will be given socialization. Relawan Demokrasi aims to increase the participation of those who have been quite apathetic towards democracy so that enrollment rates can be increased.

Creating a disabled-friendly democracy

The existence of a law which regulates the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities should make this year’s election different for persons with disabilities than previous elections.

The existence of increasingly mature and accurate data collection with various classifications based on their needs, as well as the socialization of KPU and KPUD to those specifically designated as disabilities, should make their participation rates increase.

Indonesian_local_elections_2018_-_voting
Credit: RkamangBsm / CC BY-SA 4.0
People vote in 2018 local elections in Pekanbaru, Sumatra, Indonesia.

PPDI, as an organization, has secured political bargaining power in government. This development can foster the participation of disabled voters in Indonesia’s democracy. There is increasing optimism that, in this election and in future plebiscites, disabled people will be energized to exercise their political rights.

Indonesia is home to a large population of disabled residents – approximately 11 million disabled people live in the archipelago country. While issues facing Indonesia’s disabled population have not been highlighted very much in the country’s presidential campaign, efforts have been made to ensure that disabled voters are accommodated at the polls on election day.

Disabled Indonesians at a glance

Various institutions have reported different numbers on how many disabled people live in Indonesia.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 15 percent of the world’s population consists of people with disabilities. Indonesia alone has around 11 million people with disabilities, including those in five categories: sight impairment (around 3.47 million people) physical disabilities (3.01 million), hearing disabilities (2.55 million), mental disabilities (1.39 million) and chronic disabilities (1.16 million).

Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration reports that there are around 7 million disabled people in Indonesia. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, counts around 24 million people. At the same time, in the 2019 Permanent Voters List (DPT) from the General Election Commission (KPU), there are around 1.25 million registered disabled voters in the country.

This difference in numbers will certainly be a problem the election as the accessibility of elections for persons with disabilities can easily be miscalculated. The number of Indonesians reporting disabilities seems to be swelling. For example, in the Regional Head General Elections (Pilkada) in Aceh, there has been around a 250 percent increase in disabled people exercising their right to vote. This means that they may not be recorded while they are in need of assistance in exercising their right to vote.

Securing the right to vote

The struggle for disabled people in obtaining their rights in Indonesia has a long history. One of them is the right to vote in an election. Elections, as a forum to convey participation in public sphere, should ensure that all the rights of voters from any group can be reached, including those with disabilities.

This is because the enactment of Indonesia’s Law No. 8 concerning Persons with Disabilities will certainly give more moral responsibility to the KPU to reach them as one of the groups that are specifically designated. This means that they should receive special handling in terms of accessibility, such as special facilities, assistance and socialization. When these individuals are registered as voters, they not only receive voting rights but also accessibility. This access is expected to attract their interest in exercising their right to vote.

The Association of Indonesian Disabled Persons (PPDI) is Indonesia’s largest organization of persons with disabilities. PPDI has worked to ensure the fulfillment of the rights of disabled individuals, including their right to vote in an election. KPUs in the regions and provinces have also tried to cooperate with PPDI in making efforts to fulfill their rights, such as delivering special socialization to PPDI in more remote regions to enable disabled voters to find out about democracy and elections.

The birth of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections has become a breath of fresh air for persons with disabilities for their struggle so far. In the law, Article 5 letter (h) states: “Persons with disabilities who meet the requirements have the same opportunity as other voters, as candidates for the People’s Representative Council (DPR) members, as candidates for the Regional Representative Council (DPD) members, as candidates for President and Vice President, as candidates for the People’s Regional Representative Council (DPRD) members and as an organizer.”

While, so far, organizers feel that they only have a moral burden on Law No. 8 concerning persons with disabilities, the birth of Law No. 7 clarifies the right to disability in a democracy in this nation. The birth of this law ensures that the participation of disabled voters receives special consideration in the upcoming presidential election.

The creation of Relawan Demokrasi (Democracy Volunteers) to be the organizing partner of KPU also makes disabled a target for minorities who will be given socialization. Relawan Demokrasi aims to increase the participation of those who have been quite apathetic towards democracy so that enrollment rates can be increased.

Creating a disabled-friendly democracy

The existence of a law which regulates the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities should make this year’s election different for persons with disabilities than previous elections.

The existence of increasingly mature and accurate data collection with various classifications based on their needs, as well as the socialization of KPU and KPUD to those specifically designated as disabilities, should make their participation rates increase.

PPDI, as an organization, has secured political bargaining power in government. This development can foster the participation of disabled voters in Indonesia’s democracy. There is increasing optimism that, in this election and in future plebiscites, disabled people will be energized to exercise their political rights.

Read Next: A New App Wants to Help Indonesia's Blind Navigate Their Cities

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more like it in your news feed, please be sure to like our Facebook page below.

Looking for More?
More『Opinion』Articles More『World』Articles More『Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat』Articles
Loader