Ubud Village outlaws unsightly political banners
Anton Muhajir, The Jakarta Post, Gianyar | Mon, 01/05/2009 11:06 AM | Bali
Amid failed attempts by election officials to protect Bali’s beauty by limiting certain campaigning techniques, one village has managed to preserve its natural look by outlawing banners.
Lodtunduh village in Ubud, Gianyar, is all but free of the huge political campaign banners and flags so common in Denpasar.
The village chief refused to sacrifice the village’s beauty for political campaigning.
“We don’t want a banner race in our village just because it’s campaign season,” said Wayan Sudarta, Lodtunduh village chief, referring to the unspoken competition involving political parties wishing to have more banners than their rivals.
He said the village had banned billboards, banners and flags, adding that political party memorabilia could only be displayed at village centers and at the village chief’s office.
He said the agreement to ban the advertisements was reached after the Bali General Elections Commission (KPUD) announced the final list of legislative candidates for Gianyar in October.
He gathered all village officials, residents and the nine legislative candidates in the village and persuaded all parties to agree to limit campaign advertising to a few specified public places.
There were two main conditions in the agreement, he said, one that billboards could only be put up in the village’s outlying fields, main crossroad and outskirts, and two that party flags could be displayed only at those three sites and at banjar (traditional neighborhood organization) halls and the village chief’s office.
“The office and the halls are where the community congregate, and erecting the campaign materials there will give the villagers a chance to see and inspect them,” Sudarta said.
There are no specific rules limiting the size of billboards, he said, but added flag poles must not be taller than 4 meters and that the flags themselves must not exceed 1.5 square meters.
Made Karang, a resident of Lodtunduh, said he supported the decision because it would preserve the village’s beauty.
“And that’s important because our village represents the Ubud district in the Gianyar regency’s village competition,” he said.
The agreement further stipulates that political parties must not attach campaign flyers on trees or electricity poles.
Karang said the candidates had not agreed with the rule initially, but eventually conceded for the sake of the village’s beauty.
“Besides, we did not ban them from campaigning, we only limited the campaign methods,” he said.
Other candidates from other districts have adopted the rules, and efforts to remove campaign advertisements from barred areas have met little resistance.
Sudarta said the agreement did not stipulate any sanctions for violators, but added there had not been any extreme violations.
“It counts on the candidate’s values. If they break the rules, then our field officials will take down the materials,” he said.
Sudarta said most violators had been people from outside of the village who were unaware of the rule.
“The moment they learn about the rules they voluntarily remove their materials from the forbidden sites,” he said.
Lodtunduh has nine legislative candidates in its electoral district, and 5,000 eligible voters.
Sudarta said the village would continue the rule for the next election, adding that it was a good example for other villages in Bali to follow.
“If we can do it this year, then we can do it in another five years,” he said.