Ronna Nirmala & Ulma Haryanto
With a week of voting left to go, Komodo Island has made it to the final list of 10 contenders for the New7Wonders of Nature, but organizers said this was no guarantee of a win.
The others that made the shortlist are the Dead Sea, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Halong Bay, Jeita Grotto, Jeju Island, Puerto Princesa Underground River, Sundarbans and Vesuvius, organizers said in a statement sent to the Jakarta Globe on Sunday .
“In our first campaign for the man-made wonders of the world, many changes took place in the final week and days so the top 10 we have announced today will certainly change,” said Eamonn Fitzgerald, head of communication for New7Wonders. “With millions of votes still set to come in, finalists who are not in today’s top 10 could yet make it into the chosen seven.”
There are a total of 28 finalists, which also includes the Amazon, Galapagos and Kilimanjaro.
According to Emmy Hafild, the woman who rescued the bid of the Komodo National Park after the Indonesian government’s falling out with the organizers, votes for the home of the prehistoric “dragons” skyrocketed after SMS voting was introduced in August.
“We are optimistic, God willing,” said the head of Supporters for a Komodo Victory, which is supported by former Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
Emmy also dismissed claims that emerged on Friday that SMS voting was not recognized by the New7Wonders organization and was therefore fraudulent. “There are three eligible ways to vote in New7Wonders — web, televote, and SMS, which was opened on Aug. 15,” she explained.
Eamonn also told the Globe that voting via SMS is “technically possible during the campaign.”
On their Web site, New7Wonders said text message voting was valid and that “these … methods are tried and tested, and are used millions of times every day across the world for all types of competitions, campaigns and other interactive initiatives.”
Abimanyu Wachjoewidajat, a telecommunications expert, claimed on Friday that official votes required valid e-mail accounts so people who voted without owning an e-mail account would see their votes ignored.
Abimanyu also said he once sent an SMS vote to 9818 and got the reply, “Thank you, if you want to vote, please click www.pilihkomodo.com.”
“The SMS is useless,” he said.
He took issue with the cost of the SMS vote, now free for most providers except for Telkomsel, which charges Rp 1, down from Rp 1,000.
“From the data I know, before the reduction of the (SMS) tariff, one million people voted for Komodo by text,” he said. “It means the (mobile) operator made more than Rp 1 billion.”
Emmy said that she was distraught by those who were making the different SMS prices “a big issue”.
“The current price is Rp 1, so it is not a premium SMS anymore, people who keep questioning it are just making things up,” she told the Globe.
Communication and Information Technology spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto could only suggest that customers file complaints directly to their mobile operators or via SMS to the Indonesian Telecommunication Regulatory Body or BRTI.
“If you are being charged more than Rp 1, you have the right to complain to 159 or to the mobile operator to make a claim for compensation,” Gatot said.