MPR Speaker: PBNU suggests President again be appointed by MPR

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The People’s Consultative Assembly leadership visit Nahdlatul Ulama Central Management (PBNU). (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – The People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) leadership has visited Nahdlatul Ulama Central Management (PBNU). MPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo stated he received much input on national issues, one point of which was on discourse of an indirect election of the Indonesian president and vice president. The PBNU supported reverting the electing of president and vice president back to the MPR. As a result, the PBNU supported reinstating the MPR as the highest government body in Indonesia. The PBNU regretted the MPR’s decisions to reduce its power. 

According to Bambang, the idea of making president be chosen by the MPR started from senior NU kyais in the 2012 Cirebon Alim Ulama National Conference. He stated that the senior NU kyais believed choosing the president through direct elections created high political and social costs. “Just yesterday, how our atmosphere was boiling hot, very worrying. Luckily nothing happened. But does this happen to happen for five years? Those were the throughs of kyais, who are all for the nation and for unity. There are no political interests here, no,” stated Said from the PBNU Office in Jakarta, Wednesday (27/11). 

MPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo stated that PBNU saw the direct voting mechanism in choosing the president as creating more harm than good. Not only that, the man, who is nicknamed Bamsoet, also added that the PBNU also proposed reviving group delegates in the MPR going forward. Group delegates once filled seats in the MPR before the 1945 amendment. The delegates were MPR members from various professions. According to him, group delegates needed to be revived to accommodate the aspirations of minority groups in Indonesia. “Due to representation in the parliament, both the DPD and the DPR do not yet represent the aspirations of minority groups so it is necessary to rethink the existence of group decisions,” said Bamsoet. 

MPR during the New Order era was the highest government body and consisted fully of members from the DPR, Regional Delegates, and Group Delegates. At the time, the body had the authority to give mandates or in other words choose the president and vice president. The president, as an MPR mandate, was responsible to the MPR and had to carry out the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN). During this time, there were no term limits for the president. As a result, President Soeharto was able to stay in power for 32 years as he controlled the majority of MPR members, specifically through Golkar. 

After visiting PBNU, the MPR Speaker continued to ask for suggestions relating to the idea of amending the 1945 Constitution from other parties. The MPR leadership plans on visiting the Indonesian Church Association (PGI) next. “After this, we will visit PGI, then Muhammadiyah, PKB next week, and Golkar after the national conference,” he said. 

Bamsoet explained that now was the right time to look for aspirations from various groups. After aspirations to amend the 1945 Constitution were collected, they would be discussed for one to two years. He targeted a decision before the 2024 general elections. “We still have quite a long time as our working period is five years. However, we will use this golden time wisely and will try to make a decision before the 2024 elections, so as to not disturb them,” he concluded. (Dan)