Category Archives: indonesia

Rule of law? (Indonesia)

In a rather frightening new survey, Lembaga Survei Indonesia has that 57% of Indonesians are increasingly dissatisfied with law enforcement in the country. A shocking 31% said that they would take justice into their own hands – in short vigilantism. LSI researcher Dewi Arum explains the results as follows:

Dewi attributed growing dissatisfaction to several factors. Firstly, low public confidence that law enforcement officers would act fairly, with the majority of respondents believing law enforcement officers in Indonesia could easily be persuaded to accommodate vested interests.

Secondly, many politicians, ministers and government officials are involved in corruption cases. Thirdly, the tacit acceptance of mass riots by law enforcers, such as attacks against Ahmadis and Shia followers.

The final factor is weak national leadership in upholding the law consistently. Dewi said that people close to Yudhoyono had committed corruption despite the president’s anti-graft statements.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, 48% of respondents also said that defendants should be prosecuted in accordance with the law, presumably including criminal procedural rights. What isn’t clear is if the remaining 52% believe criminal procedural rights actively hamper law enforcement. The LSI survey results do suggest that a primary concern is bias in enforcement.

The results could help the presidential candidacy of Subianto Prabowo, who has portrayed himself as a “strong” leader who could crack down on crime and get stuff done. However, Prabowo’s support, while not inconsiderable, seems capped at around 20%. It does seem clear that law enforcement will be a central issue on the minds of voters during the 2014 elections. Less clear is whether the candidates will address their concerns.

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Americanization of Indonesia’s presidential elections? (Indonesia)

According to The Jakarta Post, Mahfud has announced his support for President SBY’s plans to require the Democratic Party to select its candidate through a primary system. While SBY’s second term expires next year, he is still the Democratic Party chairman and thus has some influence over the party’s internal governance.

In the interview, Mahfud is coy about how a primary system would affect his own presidential aspirations. However, given his general popularity but lack of influence amongst party bosses, it is easy to see Mahfud performing better in a primary. In fact, this could be a way for Mahfud himself to enter the Democratic Party and sidestep party elders. Moreover, given that most of the other major parties have already proposed presidential candidates, a primary system would have the most impact in the Democratic Party.

While I’ve previously stated that Mahfud’s chances at reaching the presidency are a longshot, my reasons for stating so were his lack of strong party organization. If he were in fact to be nominated by the Democratic Party, that would boost his chances considerably.

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Filed under elections, indonesia, Mahfud, SBY

Big change at the MK (Indonesia)

After Mahfud’s departure, the Mahkamah Konstitusi selected Akil Mochtar as the new chief justice. According to The Jakarta Post, Mochtar won 7 votes compared to two for Harjono. Mochtar was a former GOLKAR DPR member, which continues the trend of having politicians serve as chief justice (Mahfud was a PKB member).

However, Mochtar’s election also brings new questions. In 2010, then-Justice Mochtar was also accused of bribery in a district elections case from North Sumatra. While the MK eventually cleared him of all charges, will the ensuing stigma affect the MK’s reputation?

Thus far, the MK has has acquired a reputation for integrity – not inconsiderable given the extent of corruption in Indonesia’s government. Former chief justices Jimly and Mahfud both had clean reputations and no scandals, which helped the court weather attacks from the DPR and president when the justices issued controversial rulings. Will Mochtar have enough clout to act as a champion for the MK? All we know for sure is that the MK is undergoing an important transition.

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Mahfud is running for president (Indonesia)

This doesn’t appear to be an April’s Fools Joke (if only because it’s already April 2 in Indonesia). Former Mahkamah Konstitusi Chief Justice Mahfud MD announced that he is ready to run for president. Of course, according to the interview with The Jakarta Post, he announced, “”If the opportunity is really there, I am ready to be nominated as a presidential candidate.” That’s president-speak for “I’m in it to win it.”

Of course, this isn’t a surprise – many had speculated that Mahfud resigned from the MK in order to compete in the 2014 elections. Nonetheless, it is a bit surprising that Mahfud has come out so openly without at least securing some party support. In the interview, he declared, “Even as of today, I have yet to know which political party that I might use, but basically all political parties have the same ideology.” There’s a risk that this might alienate some parties, as if he is claiming to be more important than the party that nominates him. Mahfud is popular, but is he really in such a strong position? GOLKAR, PDI-P, GERINDRA, and many of the major parties already have de facto candidates (a notable exception is the Democrat Party).

Stay tuned for more news about Mahfud’s candidacy and whether his legacy on the MK hurts or helps him.

UPDATE (4/3/2013):

According to The Jakarta Post, Mahfud has mentioned that he is in “talks” with some of the parties. However, he still seems intent on alienating parties. On Muslim parties, he said, “as we all know some of the Muslim parties are run by crooks.” It’s not clear if he meant to include PKB – his former party affiliation while he was a legislator in the DPR – amongst that group.

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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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