Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Awang Anwaruddin 



The era of direct election for local leaders in Indonesia began at the beginning of June 2005 in Kutai Kertanegara regency, East Borneo Province. Up to the end of the year, there will be 225 direct elections conducted all over the country to vote for 10 governors, and 215 regents or mayors. To complete the whole task, the Indonesian government has to accomplish 450 direct elections within two years.

The Indonesian political history noted not less than nine general elections conducted in Indonesia since its independence day in 1945; however, none of them was to vote for local leaders. Eight elections were for legislative members, and another election was successfully conducted to vote for the President and Vice-President. However, the success does not guarantee the perfect accomplishment of direct elections for local leaders, due to the different characteristics of Indonesian regions. Open conflicts between supporters of nominated candidates often happen during the process in some regions due to any serious or simple reasons, such as incomplete requirements, pre-scheduled campaigns, money politics, manipulated voter lists, and other typical electoral fractures.
Besides, the involvement of dominant political parties may bend the main objective of the election to select best leaders for their regions. They tend to make use of this people party to build a regional power basis to win the next national election. Apparently, this represents one of weaknesses in the Electoral Rule Number 6/2005, especially the article allowing political parties to put forward any candidates. Another weakness is the questionable independency of Electoral Committee as it is appointed by, and responsible to the local representative house whose members are among the candidates. This paper is an attempt to find values beyond such flaws of direct elections, based on the field study and various references.


The Indonesian history notes several general elections held after Independence Day in 1945, but none was for the local leaders. In 1955, government held the first and only election during the so-called Old Order era.. Feeling that the country was still unstable after the election, however, President Sukarno declared the 1950 Provisional Constitution void and reintroduced the 1945 Constitution. The next president Soeharto conducted not less than five general elections from 1966 to 1998. Although millions voters took a part, the elections during the New Order era were continuously far from democratic. To strengthen Soeharto’s dictatorship, the winner of each election was alternately Soeharto’s main political machine, the Functional Group (Golkar) party.
In 1999, one year after Soeharto’s forcedly retreat, government held the most democratic General Election after 1955. The winner was not the Golkar party anymore, but the Struggle-Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P), the political machine of former President Megawati. Five years after, in 2004, government held another general election. The historical day was 5 July 2004 when the first direct election for national leaders was successfully held and voted for the recent President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla. The success of this direct election inspired government to hold the same election to vote for the head and vice-head of local government.
The legal basis of direct elections is the 1945 Constitution Section IV concerning the Local Government. It points out clearly that governor, regent, and mayor―each as the heads of province, regency and city―are to be voted democratically. 49 year afterwards, on 18 February 2004, government finally declared through Rule Number 6/2005 direct elections as means of selection for local leaders.


To understand more about the direct election for local leaders, the following are several statutes mentioned in the Rule Number 6/2005:
  1. The Local Electoral Commission or KPUD conducts Direct Election, and is responsible to the Local House of Representatives or DPRD (Article 4). In this case, KPUD has a full authority to provide and arrange any electoral facilities with the supporting fund from Local Government Budget (Article 134).
  2. KPUD revise the data of local community in each electoral area to check the new voters, moving or dead population (Article 70). Although the design of this direct election is similar to that for national leaders, data revision is still necessary to prevent illegal voters as happened in the previous election.
  3. KPUD has to involve Local Government in distributing facilities for conducting the direct election (Article 74). The vote communities have to receive vote letters and other electoral facilities properly by the time of election.
  4. Independent/non political party candidates propose themselves through a political party or group political parties (Article 42 par. 4). This statement represents on of differences between the direct election for local and national leaders. A political party or group of political parties has to give an opportunity for any independent candidates, even if they are from different area of election.
  5. Pre-requirements for candidates of head and vice-head of local government are similar to those for president and vice-president candidates. Among others are a minimum of high school graduate, 30 years of age or more, eligible voters, eager to present the list of private wealth, having no debts that cause the loss of state finance, and not in the status as the Head of Local Government.
  6. The screening process for candidates held by each political party or group political parties has to be democratic and transparent and announced openly to the public (Article 42). By such approach, the vote community understands the mechanism, criteria, process, and result of screening conducted by each political party.
  7. The mechanism of electoral campaign includes public debates on the vision and mission of candidates (Article 56). The campaign takes for 14 days, including 3-day recess time. The campaign methods consist of close meeting, face-to-face dialogue, and advertisement in mass media, leaflets, and brochures.
  8. Any contribution from the third party is limited to Rps 50 million or US$ 5,000 (individually) and Rps 350 million or US$ 35,000 (institutionally). As we know, such contribution for president and vice-president candidates is limited as maximum as Rps 100 million or US$ 10,000 individually, and Rps 750 million or US$ 75,000 institutionally.
  9. The basis of electoral winner is a half number of voters plus one, and when inadequate, candidates attaining more than 25% votes win the election. otherwise, there should be the second election conducted, and the winner is candidates reaching 15% voters in the Local House of Representatives.
  10.  Any conflicts during the process of direct election may be sued to Supreme Justice or Mahkamah Agung, and not to Constitution Justice or Mahkamah Konstitusi as in the direct election for president and vice-president. The conflict should be reported within three days, and the Supreme Justice may delegate the case to Provincial Justice or Pengadilan Tinggi that has to make decision within 14 days.
By the same procedure, Kutai Kertanagara Regency, East Borneo Province, successfully held the first direct election to vote for their leaders at the beginning of June 2005.2 It is, however, too early to say that other direct election will gain the same success as the first. Indonesia consists of wide and separated area with hugh differences of ethnics and tribes. Incomplete requirements, preceding campaign, manipulation of voter list, money politics, and other simple reasons may easily trigger a horizontal conflict, especially in several conflict-risky regions.


Empowerment is one of dominant approaches in management in 90-ies. Various organizations have implemented the approach with different levels of success. In some cases, the success reached through empowerment has brought a change towards the thorough improvement of organization quality, and most of them, towards the prosperity, vitality improvement, and organizational growth. On the other hand, some organizations consider empowerment as the resource of conflicts, since every member involved in the empowering process has to adapt to the new approach in managing organization, such as independency in making decision and work implementation.
The term ‘empowerment’ may be meant as ‘passing on authority and responsibility’ (Wellim, Byham & Wilson, 1991:22). Referring to the definition, empowerment happens if there is a delegation of authority to the members of organization, which will enhance the feeling of ownership and responsibility toward their work. Such feeling will then make them more inisiative, work harder, and enjot their jobs. In a more simple way, Stewart (1994:6) defines empowerment as ‘… a highly practical and productive way to get the best from yourself and your staff.’ The main objective of empowerment, as Stewart states, is to delegate the authority of a leader to his staff in order to carry out proper and better approach to their customers. This means not only delegating tasks but also decision-making and full responsibility.
Cook and Macaulay (1997:2-3) says that empowerment is ‘a change happens in the philosophy of management that is able to push people to use their ability and energy so as to achieve the organizational goal.’ The environment created will then trigger the initiatives and response, so that all facing problems can be solved as fast and flexible as possible where the problems happens. Richard Carver, managing director of Coverdale Organization (in Clutterbuck and Kernagham, 1994: 12), defines empowerment as ‘encouraging and allowing individuals to take personal responsibility for improving the way they do their jobs and contribute to the organization’s goals.’
The definitions cited above, in the perspective of public administration, comprise an understanding that empowering community. It is ‘the most practical and productive approach in management to achieve the best results by passing authority and responsibility from government to community. It enhances people to use capability, initiative, and energy to solve their own problems, and to accomplish stated objectives.’
How can this management approach be applied in the context of community, and the most critically, why should we apply empowerment to help community? Surely, this approach is workable to help them achieve their own goal. Community is, as Bartle (2005)7 insists, ‘something more than a collection of individual people; it is the community as a whole whose capacity we wish to strengthen.’ Community empowerment goes well beyond political or legal permission to participate in the national political system. It includes capacity to do things that community members want to do.
Empowerment includes capacity building and strengthening in various dimensions, and it is, as Cook and Macaulay (1997:1)8 describes, a strategic instrument to increase capacity. The most advantage of empowerment is the increase of energy produced and the bigger responsibility owned by each member as an impact of participation in decision-making. Both of them will influence the community performance. Besides, Blanchard, Carlos and Randolph (2002: xvii) add that the successful leaders consider empowerment as the best way to (1) enhance entrepreneurship to the community; (2) plant the ownership of community to their environment; (3) build a commitment among the members of community, and (4) increase the involvement of community to social problems.

Empowerment is also a strategic instrument to provide freedom for community, so they can use their knowledge, experience, and motivation to achieve the expected goals. In addition, Stewart (1994: 12)10 says that the implementation of empowerment has five advantages: (1) allow community to respond flexibly to their needs; (2) offer community a greater sense of social achievement; (3) improve motivation and morale significantly; (4) help to reduce stress; and (5) increase people’s sense of control, by giving them a chance to make their own decision on what to do and how to do it.


The goal of empowerment is to strengthen communities, that is, by increasing their capacities. Thus, empowerment includes capacity building and strengthening in various dimensions. Bartle (2005) proposes 16 elements of a community that change as the community gets stronger.
  1. Altruism. The proportion of, and degree to which, individuals are ready to sacrifice benefits to themselves for the benefit of the community as a whole (as reflected in degrees of generosity, individual humility, personal sacrifice, communal pride, mutual supportiveness, loyalty,                  concern, solidarity, sister/brotherhood);
  2. Common Values. The degree to which members of the community share values, especially the idea that they belong to a common entity that supersedes the interest of members within it;
  3. Communal Services. Facilities and services (such as roads, markets, potable water, education, health services), their upkeep (dependable maintenance and repair), sustainability, and the degree to which all community members have access to them;
  4. Communications. Within a community, and between itself and outside, communication includes roads, electronic methods (e.g. telephone, radio, TV, Internet), printed media (newspapers, magazines, books), networks, mutually understandable languages, literacy and the willingness and ability to communicate (which implies tact, diplomacy, willingness to listen and to talk) in general;
  5. Confidence. Although expressed as confidence in individuals, how much confidence is shared   among the community as a whole? e.g. an understanding that the community can achieve   whatever it wishes to do, positive attitudes, willingness, self motivation, enthusiasm, optimism,    self-reliant rather than dependency attitudes, willingness to fight for its rights, avoidance of  apathy and fatalism, a "vision" of what is possible;
  6. Context (political and administrative). An environment that supports strengthening includes  political (including the values and attitudes of the national leaders, laws and legislation) and administrative (attitudes of civil servants and technicians, as well as Governmental regulations and procedures) elements, and the legal environment;
  7. Information. The ability to process and analyze information, the level of awareness, knowledge   and wisdom found among key individuals and within the group as a whole. When information is  more effective and more useful, not just more in volume or amount;
  8. Intervention. The extent and effectiveness of animation (mobilizing, management training, awareness rising, and stimulation) aimed at strengthening the community? Do outside or   internal sources of charity increase the level of dependency and weaken the community, or   do they challenge the community to act and therefore become stronger? Is the intervention  sustainable or does it depends upon decisions by outside donors which have different goals   and agendas than the community itself?
  9. Leadership. Leaders have power, influence, and the ability to move the community.  The most effective and sustainable leadership is one that follows the decisions and desires of    the community as a whole, taking an enabling and facilitating role. Leaders must possess   skills, willingness, honesty and some charisma;
  10. Networking. Not just "what you know." but "who you know." What is the extent to which  community members, especially leaders, know persons (and their agencies or organizations)   who can provide useful resources that will strengthen the community as a whole? The useful  linkages, potential and realized, within the community and with others outside it;
  11. Organization. The degree to which different members of the community see themselves as  each having a role in supporting the whole (in contrast to being a mere collection of separateindividuals), including organizational integrity, structure, procedures, decision making processes, ef fectiveness, division of labor and complementarities of roles and functions;
  12. Political Power. The degree to which the community can participate in national and district  decision making. Just as individuals have varying power within a community, so communities  have varying power and influence within the district and nation;
  13. Skills. The ability, manifested in individuals, that will contribute to the organization of the   community and the ability of it to get things done that it wants to get done, technical skills, management skills, organizational skills, mobilization skills; 
  14. Trust. The degree to which members of the community trust each other, especially their leaders  and community servants, which in turn is a reflection of the degree of integrity (honesty, dependability, openness, transparency, trustworthiness) within the community;
  15. Unity. A shared sense of belonging to a known entity (ie the group composing the community), although every community has divisions or schisms (religious, class, status, income, age, gender, ethnicity, clans), the degree to which community members are willing to tolerate the differences and variations among each other and are willing to cooperate and work together,  a sense of a common purpose or vision, shared values;
  16. Wealth. The degree to which the community as a whole (in contrast to individuals within it) has control over actual and potential resources, and the production and distribution of scarce and  useful goods and services, monetary and non monetary (including donated labor, land,  equipment, supplies, knowledge, skills).
The more any community has of each of the above elements, the stronger it is, the more capacity it has, and the more empowered it is. While each estimate of these elements is subjective, every effort has to be made to ensure the use of the same internal measuring stick for how it is today, how it was a year ago, and how it was five years ago. A community is a social entity. It does not become stronger simply by adding a few more facilities. Community strengthening or capacity building involves social change− development−and that, in turn, involves the above elements of strength.


Since the beginning of June 2005, not less than 166 local governments across the country have conducted direct elections to vote for seven governors and 159 regents and mayors. By the end of this year, other 60 local governments will hold the same events. Within two years, 450 local governments have to be accomplished the elections. This is truly the huge step in the Indonesian political world, as it never happens before in history of the country.

From the perspective of community development, direct elections contain several advantages. First, it is an instrument to empower local community by ‘passing on authority and responsibility’ to vote for their best leaders. This is a radical change from the past for such event, when Jakarta used to drop local leaders without listening to local aspiration. During the New Order era, there were only two categories for governors or regents: if not retired army, they were from the Functional Group (Golkar) party.
Secondly, direct election is also a strategic instrument for community capacity building. Empowering them to vote for their leaders will impact on enhancing their capability, initiative, and energy to solve their own problems, and increasing their strengths to create and to accomplish the stated objectives.Third, direct election is an effort to implement ‘good local governance.’ Direct election, in a way, teach the local society to apply some principles of good governance, such as, among others, participation in decision-making, transparency in candidate screening process, equity in candidate proposition, accountability in conducting the election, and strategic vision in proposing the future of local government. The more principles are applied, the faster good local government will be implemented.
Fourthly, direct election is an attempt to realize the 2020 Indonesian vision. As we know, the Supreme House of Representatives (MPR) has designed the Indonesia vision in 2020, that is, ‘the realization of Indonesian society with characteristics of religious, humanistic, entity, democratic, just, prosperous, progressive, confident, and good and clean in conducting the state’. By encouraging local community to make their own decision, direct election is an effort to build democracy by ‘… vesting the supreme power in the people and exercising them directly …’.
There are surely other advantages of direct election, especially when it is analyzed from other perspectives. However, all these advantages may be hindered by various constraints coloring the process of direct election. Such problems seem common in any instruments of democratic procedure; above all, it is the first direct election for local leaders in Indonesian political history. Hence, it is impossible to expect this first democratic event runs smoothly and flawlessly. The most important is finding a solution for each problem in order to prevent the same constraints in the next direct election. By analyzing the accomplished and on-going direct election in several regions, there are at least three kinds of problems concerning the electoral components: (1) problems on candidate verification, (2) problems on population data, and (3) problems on electoral logistics.

1. Problems on candidate verification

Although it is clear that independent candidates may propose themselves through a political party or group political parties (Rule Number 6/2005, Article 42, par. 4), various problems on candidate verification appear because of misinformation.
  • Some candidates in several regions argue the Comission is not fair, failing them from verivication without clear reasons. This happened, for example, in Jayapura City, and several regencies in North Sumatera, such as Sibolga, South Tapanuli, Labuhan Batu, Tobasa, and Mandailing Natal.
  • Another common problem concerns with fake certification. One of administrative requirements for proposed candidates is a minimum of high-school graduate. It seems that several candidates fail to assure the KPUD about their certificates. This happened because the graduating school was by now closed, not registered in the Office of Education, or never established at all.

2. Problems on population data

Other critical problems concern with population data. The Rule Number 6/2005 (Article 70) states KPUD has to revise the population data to check the new voters, moving or dead population. However, several regions reported that the commission did not carry out the revision completely, which resulted in the lack of population data.
  • For instance, 20 thousand people in Depok City, West Java, could not join the election because they were not registered as eligible voters. Such cases commonly happen in the regions where several schools or universities exist, such as Sumedang Regency in West Java, or Sleman Regency in Yogyakarta province.
  • Conversely, in other regions the population data is manipulated, such as in Ngawi Regency, East Java, where 23 thousand fictive vote letters were found. Such problem happened because the KPUD did not revise the data, but took it directly from the Office of Population. On the other hand, there are a lot of Ngawi people living outside of the regency.

3. Problems on electoral logistics

The Electoral Rule Number 6/2005 was late to be published, which results in the short preparation for the KPUD in some regions to conduct direct election as scheduled. The problems concern with the vote letters, boxes, and huts.
  • Several regencies, such North Kolaka, Wakatobi, Bombana in Papua, and Padang Pariaman in West Sumatera delay the direct election until uncertain time because of unreadiness of KPUD.
  • The members of KPUD in Cilegon City in Banten province has to work hard to change 5000 broken vote letters, out of 230 thousand for 519 electoral places. The neighboring regency, Serang, suffers more serious problems in which 198 vote boxes and 198 huts are reported to be lost untraceably.

4. Problems on electoral funds

Based on the statement between the Department of Home Affairs and local governments’ representatives, both parties have to provide the funds of Rp 744,3 billion or about US$ 74.43 million to cover 450 direct elections for governors, regents, and mayors within two years. Central government, so far, has provided Rp 344,3 billion, but it seems that some local governments are unable to provide the supporting funds. This results in financial problems to several KPUDs.
  • The KPUD of Situbondo regency in East Java, for example, had to borrow Rp 50 million from a local bank to cover the operational expenses.
  • The KPUD of Kendal regency in Central Java had to spend the funds as efficient as possible because of financial crisis.
  • The KPUD of Jemberl regency in East Java refused to conduct the election because their salary was not paid for months.

5. Problems on involvement of dominant political parties

Some political parties tend to make use of direct election to build a power basis for the next general election. On the other hand, the direct election is meant to empower local community to select their best leaders. Apparently, this represents one of the Achilles’ heels in the Electoral Rule Number 6/2005.
  • The Functional Group (Golkar) party, for example, targets to win 60% of direct elections all over the country. As the winner of 2004 legislative election, it is reasonable enough if they hope that most of 140 candidates for governors, regents, and mayors will win the direct election.
  • Another big party, the Struggle-Indonesian Democratic Party (PDIP) focus on their bulky areas, such as Central Java and Bali provinces. In Central Java, for example, they insist on winning in the 17 out of 35 regencies and cities. While in Bali, they will struggle to win in all regions including province, regencies, and cities.  

6. Problems on money politics

Money politics seems to be a common phenomenon in any kinds of election. In previous general elections to vote for the members of house representatives, national or local levels, we once heard the story of someone knocking the doors of village voters early morning on the election day to present a sum money so as to vote for a certain candidate, or a well-known adage puts it, serangan fajar (the dawn attack). Such money politics also happens during the recent election.
  • In an electoral area in Cilegon City last June 2005, for example, someone tried to bribe voters with a coupon for a cup of bakso (a kind of traditional food).
  • In Kutai Kertanegara last May 2005, an electronic reporter was terrorized because of reporting a close campaign entailing money politics.

7. Problems on horizontal conflict

Another factor that may influence direct election is the primordial difference, especially ethnic and tribal, that can trigger a horizontal conflict. The ethnic and tribal variety in provinces is generally bigger than in regencies or cities. However, as indicated by Mujani, in most provinces there is a dominant tribe so that ethnic conflicts can be eliminated. The situation in regencies and cities should be better as the population is more homogeneous. Except in the conflict areas, such as Poso, Papua, and Nangroe Aceh Darussalam, horizontal conflicts probably happen.
  • In Jayapura City, for example, the supporters of an avoided candidate blocked the city main road. They just opened the blocking when the fail candidate, suggested by the tribal chiefs, persuaded them to do so.
  • Government, however, has tried to anticipate such horizontal conflicts by delaying the election until the condition is back to normal. In Poso regency, the KPUD asked five couples of regent and vice-regent candidates to take a peace oath, and to put aside any differences among them.
Such electoral flaws, hopefully, do not lessen the values beyond the direct election, especially the government effort to empower local community. Everybody should be aware that the price to be paid to strengthen local community is too expensive to be defeated by the personal ambition to get a certain position.


The first direct election to vote for local leaders has been successfully initiated in Kutai Kertanegara regency. This huge step in the Indonesian political setting will alternately be conducted in other local governments. Within two years such democratic events happen in 450 provinces, regencies and cities across the country.
It is still questionable that other local government will gain the same success as the first. Indonesia consists of thousands big and small islands with hundreds tribes and ethnics. Therefore, various electoral problems may hinder the process of direct election. The problems analyzed, so far, cover the candidate verification, population data, electoral logistics, shared funding between central and local governments, and involvement of dominant political parties, money politics, and horizontal conflicts. All these problems may be common in any general elections, especially this is the first conducted in Indonesia. However, a strategic solution should be designed for each problem, or the great efforts to empower local community will crack before reaching the goal.
From the perspective of community development, direct elections contain, at least, four advantages. First, by passing on authority and responsibility, it empowers the local community to vote for their best leaders. Secondly, it builds capacity among the local society. Third, it is an effort to implement good local governance. And, finally, it is an attempt to realize the 2020 Indonesian vision, that is, ‘the realization of Indonesian society with characteristics of religious, humanistic, entity, democratic, just, prosperous, progressive, confident, and good and clean in conducting the state’. To succeed the efforts of empowering community, and to prevents any problems probably hindering, the following recommendations for the implementation of direct election in the future should be taken into account: 
  1. The Local Electoral Committee should socialize the legal basis and operational procedure of direct election, so both the candidates and community understand the mechanism;
  2. The Local Electoral Committee should revise the population data beforehand, not just referring to the available data in the Office of Population.
  3. The Local Electoral Committee should provide electoral logistics a month ahead, and share with the local government to distribute them by the time of election.
  4. Local Government should provide the supporting funds, at least, two months before the election, so the the Local Electoral Committee can make any electoral arrangements.
  5. The political parties should hold back their ambition to dominate the direct election, and let the local community to make up their minds.
  6. Both candidates and community should stay away from the practice of money politics as it will not enhance the realization of civil society.
  7. The candidates should control their supporters not to increase any electoral problems that may trigger a horizontal conflict


  • Bartle, Phil (2005). The Problem We Face, http://www.scn.org/cmp/cta.htm.
  • Blanchard, Ken, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph (2002). Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute (trans), Yogyakarta, Amara Books, p.12.
  • Clutterbuck, David and Susan Kernagham (with research by Debbie Snow) (1994). The Power of Empowerment, London: Kogan Page Limited, p.2-3.
  • Cook, Sarah and Steve Macaulay (1997). Perfect Empowerment ~ Pemberdayaan Yang Tepat. Jakarta: Elex Media Komputindo, Kelompok Gramedia, p.56.
  • Government Rule (PP) Number 6/2005, Pemilihan, Pengesahan, Pengangkatan, dan Pemberhentian Kepala Daerah dan Wakil Kepala Daerar, or. the Vote, Legality, Elevation and Release of Head and Vice-Head of Local Government.
  • LAN and BPKP (2000). Akuntabilitas Kinerja dan Good Governance, Jakarta, Lembaga Administrasi Negara, p.3.
  • Lembaga Administrasi Negara (2005). Sistem Administrasi Negara Republik Indonesia, Buku III: Landasan dan Pedoman Pokok Penyelenggaraan dan Pengembangan Sistem Administrasi Negara, Jakarta, Lembaga Administrasi Negara, p.94.
  • Merriam-Webster, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1977). G & C Merriam Co., USA,
  • Mujani, Saiful (2005), Tak Ada Sedekah dari Pemilih, an article in ‘Tempo’, Jakarta: 6-12 June 2005 edition, ps. 48-49.
  • Stewart, Aileen Mitchell (1994). Empowering People, London, Pitman Publishing.
  • ‘Tempo’ Weekly Magazine, 6-12 Juni 2005 edition, ps. 27-54.
  • Wellins, Richard S., William C. Byham & Jeanne M. Wilson (1991). Empowered Teams, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, p.21.

*) Seminar paper presented in the 2nd NAPSIPAG International Conference, Beijing, PR China, December 2005

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