01/30/2004, 00.00
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Guidelines on elections released

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - With a view to the upcoming Indonesian elections on April 5th ,  July 5th  (and possibly a second round on September 20th)  this year, the Bishop's Conference of Indonesia (KWI) has released general guidelines for Catholics as they participate in the vote.

KWI's Chairman Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja, SJ and Secretary General Executive, Msgr. Dr. Ignatius Suharyo released the letter  on January 21st, which invites all voting Catholics  across the country to use the elections as an opportunity to improve the moral and political climate of their nation.  Practical suggestions are offered as well, such as to study the Election Laws and Regulations, and scrutinize the voting procedures before going to the polls.

Indonesia is considered one of the most corrupted countries in the world. According to some observers, in the last years, corruption has become "general": wide-spread to the point of  confusing even well-intentioned voters.

To aid Catholics in choosing politicians who can be entrusted with the responsibilities of leading their country with justice,  who are not interested in personal financial benefit, the KWI urges young Catholics to support intelligent and fresh political figures who have sound principles and integrity.

Yet, they caution against voting based on religious affiliation alone. "Our choice should disregard religions. We should emphasize on their quality of moral and individual competency."

 The Bishops suggest also to support women candidates and strongly committed people: "Giving votes to quality woman legislative candidates is one manifest action to acknowledge women's role in political decision making. Find candidates who are really capable and competent. Do not choose those who are indolent, who go back on their words,  who do not have hearts for the little, weak, needy and ousted people."

With a warning, the KWI urges Catholics to observe contesting parties by learning about their articles of association, campaigning techniques, and fund-raising efforts.

"Say no to money politics" the letter advises.

 "Not money; instead let our heart voice the choice. Examine legislative candidates. Big names are no guarantee."

 Finally, the bishops exhort the faithful  to find parties who have "people-oriented platforms not money-oriented platforms" and candidates who support the Pancasila, [the 5 principles on which the Indonesian state is based on- ndr].

Otherwise, states the document, "It's like buying fruit- the skin may look alluring, but when peeled, the inside is rotten." (MH).


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