Election Dispute 2020: Lessons from the Orient Case

Sengketa Pilkada 2020: Pelajaran dari Kasus Orient
Image credit: rumahpemilu.org

The decision of the Constitutional Court on Thursday (4/15/2021), which annulled the victory of the candidate for regent of Sabu Raijua, East Nusa Tenggara, Orient Patriot Riwu Kore, due to citizenship issues, became a lesson for the government to integrate data across agencies. Without improved data integration, cases like Orient could continue to recur.

Orient, who holds U.S. citizenship, briefly qualified for the nomination stage, then won the 2020 Sabu Raijua Regional Election. In fact, the requirement for a regional head candidate is an Indonesian citizen. The failure of various agencies to detect the status of dual citizens of Orient resulted in the waste of tens of billions of rupiah in the election budget, as well as the efficacy of conflict in the community.

In the ruling No. 135/PHP. BUP-XIX/2021 which was read by the Chairman of the Constitutional Court (MK) Anwar Usman at the Mk Building, Jakarta, yesterday, the Court declared the appointment of Orient and Thobias Uly as regents and elected deputy regents of Sabu Raijua, void. In addition, they were also disqualified as the number 2 candidate in the Sabu Raijua Regional Election.

The Court ordered the Electoral Commission (KPU) Sabu Raijua to carry out a re-vote (PSU) of the local elections followed by the number 1 pair (Nikodemus N Rihi Heke and Yohanis Uly Kale) as well as the number 3 pair (Takem Radja Pono and Herman Hegi Radja Haba). This PSU must have been done within a period of 60 working days since the verdict was read.

Ready to execute

KPU member, I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi, said, KPU will carry out the verdict of the Court as optimally as possible. There are several things that are prepared, namely voter data, the establishment of ad hoc bodies, and budgets. As an illustration, in the last election, the local government disbursed Rp 15 billion.

According to Dewa, the Orient case needs to be learned by all parties. Especially for the organizers, the principle of carefulness and prudence in the factual verification process of regional head candidates becomes important. However, according to him, KPU can only work in accordance with the rule of law and can not work alone to prevent the problem of dual citizenship. It takes the cooperation of all parties. Openness and honesty of the parties are also needed.

Professor of Constitutional Law Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, Asep Warlan Yusuf assessed, Orient case occurred because there is a problem upstream, namely in the population data system. The population data system has not been able to accurately filter a person's citizenship status.

It then continues in the factual verification process of regional head candidates which is also not strict. As a result, candidates who do not qualify for citizenship can also advance as candidates for regional head.

Orient's case, continued Asep, provides lessons for election organizers and the government to build an integrated data system. The structure of the system must be improved and strengthened. Kpu, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Law and Human Rights need to sit together because many issues of the status of candidates for elections and local elections depend on those agencies. For example, it concerns citizenship status.

If the problem is not resolved, he said, cases like this can be repeated. As a result, this troubles all parties, including the community.

Previously, in 2016, there were also issues related to the detection of Arcandra Tahar's citizenship. About two weeks after being sworn in as Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, he is known to have dual citizenship, namely Indonesia and the US.


In legal considerations read by constitutional judge Saldi Isra, the Court found that Orient never explained that he was a United States passport holder. In fact, Orient still holds a U.S. passport validity period of 2017-2027, which is an extension of the previous passport with a validity period of 2007-2017.

"Orient has never been honest about its citizenship status, including not recognizing that status when registering as a candidate for the regent of Sabu Raijua Regency in the 2020 Election of The Regent and Deputy Regent of Sabu Raijua Regency," said Saldi.

Saldi asserted, Indonesia adheres to a single citizenship system so that an Indonesian citizen is not allowed to attach to another citizenship status. Thus, Orient does not qualify citizens as stipulated in Article 7 of Law No. 10 of 2016 on Local Elections, to apply as a candidate in the Sabu Raijua Regional Election.

Meanwhile, in consideration of the law, constitutional judge Suhartoyo also explained, there are specific conditions in the Sabu Raijua Election so that the Court has a strong reason to distort the validity of Article 157 Paragraph 5 of Law No. 10/2016 and Article 7 Paragraph 2 of Mk Regulation No. 6/2020.

As is known, the application for the sabu raijua election dispute has passed the grace period.

However, Suhartoyo said that the specific conditions in the Sabu Raijua regional elections were only known and questioned after the completion of the recapitulation phase of the vote counting results and the determination of the selected candidates. The pair of elected candidates have also not been appointed regional heads.

He said the case was an unprecedented legal event and had not been anticipated in the legislation so the court needed to consider the validity of the application grace period in order to obtain clarity regarding the specific conditions in the case. (NIKOLAUS HARBOWO)

A clip from an article published in the April 16, 2021 issue of Kompas on page 1 with the title "Lessons from the Orient Case". https://www.kompas.id/baca/polhuk/2021/04/16/pelajaran-dari-kasus-orient/