Singapore- Thousands of Indonesians headed to their embassy in Singapore last Sunday (April 14) to cast their vote for a new president and Parliament.
They were among two million voters abroad who had to make a decision between incumbent President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, who is seeking a second term, and former army general Prabowo Subianto. Approximately 38,000 Indonesians turned up to cast their votes in Singapore.
The crowd was composed of people from all walks of life. There were businessmen and professionals, domestic helpers and students.
They were in high spirits as they stood patiently in line at the embassy in Chatsworth Road from as early as 6am – two hours before the polls opened.
Voters travelled by car and taxi, as well as shuttle buses provided by the embassy from Redhill, Geylang Serai and Orchard Road.
The early birds included bank executive Lany Widjaja, 62, who came in a dazzling but fiery red batik dress. “I am very excited. This election is important for Indonesia’s future. I will choose the president who I think will do great things for Indonesia,” she said enthusiastically.
No illness can stop them from voting
The voters who came to vote were not just the able-bodied but also included those with physical challenges. They did not allow their physical problems to stop them from exercising their right to vote.
One was Christian priest Bigman Sirait, 58, who was recovering from an operation that would facilitate a mechanical heart pump. He came in an ambulance with a tube in his nose.
Eager and feeling positive, he was all smiles after punching a hole in the ballot papers and dipping his pinkie in indelible ink.
He said that doctors initially did not want to let him leave, but they reached a compromise with officials, who brought the voting slip to Mr. Bigman in the ambulance.
“I may be sick but I will fight the battle. What’s the point of confessing to be an Indonesian if I do nothing today? If I don’t exercise my right to stand to be counted, I’m a coward,” he audaciously said.
Another Indonesian who could not be stopped by illness was Mrs. Ani Yudhoyono, wife of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Mrs. Ani is undergoing blood cancer treatment at the National University Hospital. She is the reason why former president Yudhoyono is in Singapore.
“Ibu Ani was in high spirits to recover,” the former Indonesian leader said. Voting in Singapore for the first time was a “new experience”, he said, adding: “Here, I could see the spirit of Indonesian people is good and I’m happy as a former leader. Hopefully it will bring good things for our country.”
The former leader stole the limelight when he turned up in the evening, drawing squeals and handshakes.
Other embassies who are also holding their polling activities include those in Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines. /TISG