Whenever a general or regional election is looming in Jambi province, there will be an issue regarding the political participation of the natives of Anak Dalam, of which the regional authority and election organizer should be aware.
The Anak Dalam people, also known as Orang Rimba, or “the people of the forest”, live in the lush forest of Jambi province, but are located in three areas: Bukit Dua Belas National Park , Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park. in the northern part of Jambi and along the Trans-Sumatra Highway in the western part of Jambi.
Securing the political rights of the Anak Dalam people remains a challenge, particularly due to their isolated and nomadic lifestyle and cultural differences, as election organizers need extra effort and commitment even to achieve them.
Despite their nomadic lifestyle, in the eyes of government personnel, which hampers the effort to document them, let alone provide population records and political education, their civic rights to express their political opinion must be protected.
Failure to guarantee the political rights of the Anak Dalam people means that they will lose the possibility of choosing their preferred leader and exercising their civil rights, which the authority must avoid at all costs.
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According to the director general of population and civil status of the Ministry of Interior, Zudah Arif Fakrullah, some six thousand members of the Anak Dalam people live in Jambi. They are scattered in the districts of Batanghari, Sarolangun, Merangin, Bungo, Tebo and West Tanjung Jabung in Jambi.
Despite the large population, only half of all residents of Anak Dalam hold electronic personal ID cards, which are required to vote in elections. This issue means that the other half of the Anak Dalam people could not exercise their political rights in the elections.
Meanwhile, a political expert from Jambi University, Dori Efendi, said that in every election, the Anak Dalam have a habit of handing over their vote to the tribal leader, called temenggung, who will decide the vote on behalf of the whole community.
Efendi pointed out that the practice is vulnerable to vote buying, as a particular candidate could woo tribal leaders to sway their choice in their favor, which assures them unanimous votes from a tribal community.
The scholar felt that the election committee, especially the General Election Commission (KPU), must take bold steps to end this practice by providing political education to the people of Anak Dalam and emphasizing the importance of choice. staff during an election.
“We need a breakthrough to improve the political quality of the Anak Dalam people,” Efendi said.
To start the process, the local social affairs office should expedite the process to document Anak Dalam people and facilitate them to obtain their ID cards required to register and vote.
The KPU and the local social affairs office could then partner with the temenggungs to provide political education to the people of Anak Dalam. Moreover, the authority could involve indigenous communities as part of the electoral committee instead of simply encouraging them to vote.
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Actions of the electoral commission
The Jambi Province KPU is committed to providing political education to residents as it is an essential part of democracy. A rational voter should not choose their preferred leader based on impulsiveness and short-term interests influenced by monetary policy or individual political compensation.
According to Jambi KPU Commissioner Suparmin, the election commission will ensure that the native people of Anak Dalam have enough political knowledge to participate in the general elections.
He pointed out that the KPU of Sarolangun district of the province has involved various stakeholders with relations with the Anak Dalam people, including the local authority and the temenggungs, to promote the 2019 general elections to the indigenous community.
The district KPU also collaborated with Anak Dalam’s local radio for the public, Radio Benor, to broadcast talk shows and public service announcements on the elections, as well as to install promotional banners and distribute leaflets. .
The tumenggungs’ involvement in promoting elections and serving as election organizers is behind the high turnout of 73.8 percent among Anak Dalam voters in the region, Suparmin pointed out.
Given the success in Sarolangun district, the commission will continue the strategies to inculcate political knowledge among the indigenous population used in the recent elections, he said.
To begin preparations for the 2024 general elections, provincial and district KPUs have started updating voter lists this month. The commission also involves local actors, including the Anak Dalam people, to accomplish the task.
The Anak Dalam people and other indigenous communities in Indonesia have equal rights to express their political preferences and participate in national politics. In addition to ensuring strong participation among the indigenous population, the authority must endeavor to give them a political education.
If these measures can be implemented properly, it is not impossible that the Anak Dalam people and other indigenous communities will crowd into polling centers in the upcoming elections to vote for their favorite leaders using their conscience.
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