Anton Muhajir, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Wed, 03/25/2009 1:09 PM | Bali
Farmer Made Jaya, 67, is weeding his rice fields on the outskirts of North Denpasar district on a sunny day.
He prefers tending to his 1,700-square-meter field than taking part in any of the campaign activities leading up to the April 9 legislative elections.
“The upcoming election is confusing because there are so many candidates to pick from and so many candidate pictures to punch on the ballot,” he said, when asked to comment on the elections.
Not only are there too many candidates for Jaya – father of four from Tagtag Kaja hamlet in Peguyangan village – to choose from, but he also does not know any of them, which makes it even more confusing.
“In the last election, I voted for a candidate from the same hamlet.But after he won a seat at the House of Representatives, he never participated in any hamlet activities,” he said.
Now Jaya is determined to choose a candidate from another hamlet.
“Elections are not an important thing for me. Despite voting several times, my situation as a farmer has never changed,” he said.
He said although the candidates always promised to help improve the well-being of farmers like him, once they won their seats, they forgot about their promises.
“My income is decreasing. Instead of reaping profits, I am constantly loosing money.”
Jaya said while the cost of hiring tractors, buying fertilizers and pesticides was increasing, his returns on rice per 100 square meter were decreasing, from Rp 100,000 to Rp 75,000.
“I have no other choice but to keep farming. Buying rice would make it much more expensive for me,” he said.
“That’s why I voted for candidates who would give me money.”
Another resident, Ni Putu Asih from the Tonja hamlet in East Denpasar district, is also indifferent to the elections.
“I have voted in numerous elections, but there have never been any changes in my life,” said the soto vendor on Jl. Nangka Utara.
“I don’t care who I vote for. Whoever will do.”
Ni Wayan Buncing, a vegetable farmer in Peguyangan area, was also confused about which candidate to vote for.
“Whoever is elected in the government will not change my life,” she said.
“Nobody really cares about people like me.”
Buncing lives in a makeshift bamboo hut and lives off the vegetables she cultivates herself.
“I will stay in this situation whoever the leader is,” she said.
Some voters take a more pragmatic approach and end up choosing candidates who give them money or campaign in their hamlets. [#]