Ma’ruf Amin: “Flawed civil servant neutrality impairs democracy in Regional Elections”

Vice President Ma’ruf Amin. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – There are always pros and cons relating to the involvement of civil servants in Regional Elections. They frequently tend to show their support for a Regional Elections candidate, even though this is obviously ethically incorrect and a clear vio- lation of the law to boot. Vice President Ma’ruf Amin calls this lack of neutrality a recurring illness among civil servants: “Civil servant neutrality in Regional Elections is like an old illness that pops up again every ve years. This neutrality problem is a aw in our democracy during Regional Elections,” he said in a virtual meeting with the leaders of the State’s Civil Apparatus Com- mission (Komisi Aparatur Sipil Neg- ara – “KASN”) in Jakarta, Tuesday (15/09/2020).

Ma’ruf further said that this ill- ness is not limited to Regional Elec- tions. Civil servant neutrality in both Central and Regional Governments is frequently compromised during Presidential Elections. Ma’ruf urg- es the Commission to monitor civil servant partisanship more strictly during the 2020 Simultaneous Re-

gional Elections. “We expect KASN to monitor the implementation of civil servant ethics and neutrality in accordance with their authority, speci cally in view of the upcoming Simultaneous Regional Elections in December,” he said.

In order to minimize violations in the form of civil servant parti- sanship in the 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections, the Government issued a Joint Decree concerning Civil Servant Neutrality Monitor- ing in the 2020 Regional Elections. It was signed by the Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (Pendayagunaan Apara- tur Sipil Negara dan Reformasi Bi- rokrasi – “PANRB”) Tjahjo Kumolo, Minister of Home Affairs Tito Kar- navian, Chairman of the Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pen- gawas Pemilu – “Bawaslu”) Abhan, the Head of the State Civil Service Body (Badan Kepegawaian Nega- ra – “BKN”) Bima Haria Wibisana, and the Head of KASN Agus Pra- musinto.

Bawaslu RI records show that there were at least 700 cases of civil servant, military, and police partisanship uncovered during the 2018 Simultaneous Regional Elec- tions. Abhan stated that such par- tisanship occurred because of civil servants’ dif cult situation when making up their minds during the Regional Elections. “Civil servants frequently nd themselves in a di- lemmatic position every time Na- tional and Regional Elections are held. In the context of political con- tests, the fact is that civil servants are frequently trapped in the forces of opposing powers,” he said. “The main factors that cause this lack of neutrality are intimidation and threats leveled against lower-level civil servants by bureaucratic pow- ers. Ironically, civil servants who maintain a neutral stance can be punished for “insubordination”. Acting correctly and ethically is ac- tually fatal for their position in the bureaucratic structure.”

Weak Monitoring

Similarly, Speaker of the of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat “MPR”) of RI Bambang Soesa- tyo (“Bamsoet”) encourages the strengthening of KASN authority as the monitor of civil servant neu- trality. He stated that the number of civil servant neutrality violations that Regional Heads do not follow on is alarming. “This is proof of the limitations or weakness of our monitoring system, wherein the au- thority of the State’s Civil Appara- tus Commission is limited to the is- suance of recommendations, while the nal say rests in the very hands of the Regional Heads who bene t from civil servants’ lack of neutral- ity,” Bamsoet said in the third Na- tional Movement for Civil Servant Neutrality virtual campaign titled “Neutral Civil Servants, Strong and Independent Bureaucracy”.

As an independent monitor, KASN must be imbued with stron- ger authority, in order to deter vi- olators. Bamsoet said that civil servant neutrality is a mandatory prerequisite of clean and proper State governance, more so since civil servants are servants of the State whose primary duty is to serve our citizens. “In other words, civil servant neutrality is strongly tied to public interest and liveli- hood. Civil servant partisanship

causes various negative conse- quences, the least of which is their polarization into practical political blocs that may trigger con icts among them; there are also con- icts of interest. In the end, public service is interrupted. This is a fact that we must be aware of and focus on correcting,” he said.

Civil servants, as the main gears of bureaucracy are highly vulnerable to politicizing, especially in view of the upcoming 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections. Vice Head of KASN Tasdik Kinanto said that the agency has reported a total of 490 civil servants who violated neutrality per 19 August 2020, with 372 of them being recommended for follow up action by Staff Development Advisors (Pejabat Pembina Kepegawaian – “PPK”). However, PPKs have only followed up on 192 civil servants or 52.2% of all cases. This low rate of follow-up investigation and sanctioning for violating civil servants by Governors, Regents and Mayors as PPKs is a serious problem in upholding civil servant neutrality. Combined with the lack of monitoring agency authority, it is no wonder that civil servant neutrality violations abound. (dan)