Opposition is weak if just a single party

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The Community Forum Concerning Indonesian Parliament (Forum Masyarakat Peduli Parlemen Indonesia – “Formappi” holds discussion “DPR’s New Face: Between Perppu and the GBHN Amendment” in Matraman Raya, East Jakarta, on Monday (14/10/2019). (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Despite the new names and faces in the House of Representatives (DPR) for the 2019-2024 term, the public remains skeptic about our legislative body. This pessimism is entirely understandable: among the many burdens left behind from previous members of the legislative, the new legislative members is faced with two crucial issues at the same time: First, whether to accept or reject the possibility of enacting a Government Regulation in lieu of Law (Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang-undang – “Perppu”), and second, whether to accept or reject a limited amendment to the Constitution of 1945 concerning the Broad Outlines of State Policy (Garis-Garis Besar Haluan Negara – “GBHN”). Even worse, even now, less then a week before the Inauguration of the elected President and Vice President 2019-2024, a number of political parties still have not determined their stance. Only the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera – “PKS”) declared themselves as the opposition for the next five years. This fact is a concern, as the opposition would be much too weak if it is comprised of only a single party.

With this fact, the Community Forum Concerning Indonesian Parliament (Forum Masyarakat Peduli Parlemen Indonesia – “Formappi”) expresses concern that such a dominance of coalition parties would reduce the critical faculty of the DPR RI against the Government and the President. “I worry that we are heading back to the days of the New Order (Orde Baru – “Orba”),” said Formappi’s Executive Director Made Leo Wiratma in the discussion themed “DPR’s New Face: Between Perppu and the GBHN Amendment” held in Matraman Raya, East Jakarta, on Monday (14/10/2019).

Therefore, Formappi hopes that the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerakan Indonesia Raya – “Gerindra”) Party would not join the Government and remain in opposition instead. Therefore, the proportion of the opposition and coalition in DPR RI would be better balanced, and DPR would not lose its function as the supervisor and controller of government policies. “I hope that some opposition members would also speak up and provide considerations, to provide some critique to Government policies,” Leo said. “The new DPR as an institution has not shown its full capacity against the Government’s new policies. It should be a critical opponent as well as partner, and seek out wise solution.”

Leo went on to say that Gerindra will suffer a long-term loss if it joins the Government, as it will receive a punishmentin the next round of elections. “It would be otherwise if Gerindra remains consistent as the opposition. For example, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”) remained consistent as the opposition for ten years (2004-2014), allowing them to reap the reward of winning the presidential elections in the subsequent ten years (2014-2024),” he said.

Meanwhile, relating to the plan to issue a Perppu (Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang-undang: Government Regulation in Amending Laws) relating to the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”), political observer Ray Rangkuti requests that President Widodo not fear the pressures of his coalition supporting parties. If Jokowi continues to follow the wishes of his supporting political parties, there is a concern that he would lose his independence in making any policy. Ray regrets the statements made by coalition parties, especially PDIP and the National Democrat (“Nasdem”) Party, which implicitly threatened the President concerning Perppu. Coalition parties should work to secure the President’s policies. “When the President issued the statement that he would be issuing a Perppu, PDIP should have supported him, and so should Nasdem. On the contrary, that’s exactly what Mr. Jokowi’s coalition party didn’t do,” Ray said. “This is what I mean by having bad luck in the presidential system.

Ray further stated that he considers all of Jokowi’s policies to be controlled by his supporting coalition, as he doesn’t dare to defy them and do what the people want. “In terms of the KPK Draft Law, the President did not dare to cross the coalition at all. Our current situation is where the president is being controlled by the parties and he is working for their interest, instead for the interest of the public. Instead of being supportive of the president, the parties control him. This is the first time within the past two months that the President is not being guarded by his coalition parties. On the contrary, it is the President who maintains his coalition’s interests in the legislative,” Ray said.

Despite everything, Ray believes that there is sufficient constitutional basis for the president to issue a Perppu: it is an emergency situation, and many people have been imprisoned for fighting for the Perppu. At the same time, I believe that the imprisonment of 5 college students for fighting for the return of KPK to its old form counts as an emergency,”.

Meanwhile, Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) researcher Sirajuddin Abbas believes that there is no urgency in returning the GBHN by amending the Constitution of 1945. Sirajuddin believes so far there is no indication that the country is heading down a wrong path. “Based on scientific data, SMRC has not seen any urgency for amending the Constitution of 1945. At least, I personally see no urgency for it, whether partial or entire, because if we are talking about GBHN, this nation is still on the right track,” Abbas said.

On the contrary, Abbas believes that Indonesia’s national development is progressing after reforms in various sectors. For example, our education, poverty rate, GDP, etc. are all better than before reforms. “SMRC always asks the public about the direction of the country in each of its surveys, and so far there is consistent agreement that we are going in the right direction,” he said.

The plan to amend the Constitution of 1945 returned after PDIP expressed its support for Bambang Soesatyo to hold the position of the Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) of RI 2019-2024. However, PDIP’s support of Bambang is not without any strings attached. One of the five conditions is that Bambang should support the plan to perform a partial amendment of the Constitution of 1945, i.e. to revive the GBHN through an MPR Decree.

Meanwhile, Nasdem Party’s General Chairman Surya Paloh suggests that the Constitution be amended entirely. Surya made his suggestion after meeting with Gerindra Party General Chairman Prabowo Subianto on Sunday (13/10/2019). According to him, the Constitution of 1945 should be amended not just to revive the outlines of State policy. He believes that there are many things that should be corrected in the Constitution of 1945, such as the electoral system.

The interpretation of election in the Constitution of 1945 as simultaneous election needs to be questioned. Is it still worth keeping? After all, Surya said, simultaneous elections have many issues. “There are simply so many problematic issues. More than just for creating new GBHN, for example, we have simultaneous issues. The Decree of MK interprets the Constitution to rule that elections be held simultaneously,” Paloh said. “together we need to think it over  – are we going to continue performing simultaneous elections five years from now, or are we going to separate the elections by having legislative elections before the presidential elections? And there are still many more issues that need to be delt with with the Amendment.” (Dan)