Mahfud, we hardly knew ye (Indonesia)

The DPR has voted and Pak Arief Hidayat, professor of law at Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java, will replace Mahfud MD on the Mahkamah Konstitusi. 

However, his confirmation was somewhat more controversial than previous MK candidates. During his “fit-and-proper” test, he opined that “Indonesia should implement human rights that are compatible with the local context, instead of unconditionally implementing so-called ‘universal values’.” This seemed to insinuate that he would be less vigorous in enforcing human rights than his predecessor. Hidayat was confirmed with 42 out of 54 votes in the DPR, but has been greeted cooly by editorials in Indonesian newspapers.

Frankly, it’s still a bit too early to judge how Hidayat will rule from the bench. Previous MK candidates have been known to make statements designed to appease legislators. Mahfud himself promised that the MK would not legislate from the bench, although critics claim his activism exceeds even that of his predecessor. The real test will come when he decides a case in which human rights seem to conflict with Indonesian or Islamic culture.

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