BREAKING NEWS: Akil resigns (Indonesia)

According to The Jakarta Post, Akil Mochtar has resigned as chief justice of the Mahmakah Konstitusi. It is unclear if he has completely resigned from the court or just the chief justiceship, but the writing is on the wall.

Lembaga Survei Indonesia has some survey data about the toll Akil Mochtar’s arrest has taken on the MK’s reputation. While survey data about the MK are sparse, previously the court’s approval rating had been relatively high (even including the fact that many respondents reported not knowing enough to form a judgment). According to LSI’s most recent survey, only 28% of the public had faith in the MK and believed it still served as a bastion of the rule of law in Indonesia. What is perhaps more surprising is that almost all respondents had an opinion. 66.5% said they no longer look to the MK as bastion of law enforcement, meaning that only 5.5% of respondents reported not knowing enough to respond. The public is clearly aware of the scandal and paying attention.

President SBY meanwhile has proposed reforms to the appointment procedure for judges. While the MK justices might resist – not without reason – I suspect the political pressure on the justices will be too great. Back in 2011, the MK did invalidate legislation that would have circumscribed its jurisdiction, but the MK had very high levels of public trust back then and stakeholders amongst civil society who saw it as an example of good governance. With this most recent scandal, however, I worry the MK will find fewer allies on its side. As such, it is especially important for the president and DPR to consider any reforms carefully before attempting to force them on the court.

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