The poor performance of House of Representatives in 2014-2019

Lucius Karus. (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Approaching the end of their term of office, there are many conclusions to note about the results of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) for the 2014-2019 term. The People’s Forum for the Concern of the Indonesian Parliament (Forum Masyarakat Peduli Parlemen Indonesia – “Formappi”) considers that the performance of the people’s representatives during the above term is the worst since the start of the Reformation Era. The DPR achievements in the implementation of its three primary functions (legislation, budgeting, and supervision) is far from adequate. Formappi researcher Lucius Karus stated that in terms of performing its legislative functions, the DPR in the 2014-2019 term generated fewer Draft Laws (Rancangan Undang-Undang – “RUU”) than the DPR in the previous term. Formappi records show that DPR 2014-2019 only validated total of 84 RUUs (Priority RUUs and cumulative open RUUs) up until 25 September 2019, fewer than validated by DPR during 2009- 2014, at 125 RUUs. 

Lucius stated that out of the 35 Priority RUU validated, several Laws (Undang-Undang – “UU”) were revised repeatedly, for example the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”), DPR, Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah – “DPD”), and Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah – “DPRD”) (“MD3”) Law, Regional Elections Law, Regional Government Law. Other Laws were validated all of a sudden even though they were not included into the Priority National Legislative Program (Program Legislatif Nasional – “Prolegnas”), such as the revised Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”) Law. The KPK RUU is seen by many to weaken KPK. Other laws of this kind are the Criminal Corrections RUU, the Criminal Code RUU, even though their completion was finally left for legislators officiating in the next term. Meanwhile, DPR and the Government are still unable to validate the Sexual Violence (Penghapusan Kekerasan Seksual – “PKS”) RUU which has been delayed since it was declared as an RUU from a DPR initiative in 2016. 

National Commission on Women’s Commission Marianna Amiruddin states that she is disappointed with the performance of the recently off-duty DPR members. According to her, delay of the PKS RUU shows DPR’s lack of responsiveness to the inputs of the people and the victims of sexual harassments and rapes. 

Lingkar Madani founder Ray Rangkuti states that the legislative processes for validating the various controversial RUUs during Plenary Meetings are problematic as well. The Plenary Meetings were attended by only a small percentage of DPR members, while the MP Chairing the meeting still dared to say that they fulfilled a quorum. When the Revised KPK Law was validated, only about 80 members were physically present, while 289 members signed in their attendance. “This is simply wrong,” Ray said. “The basis for validating any Law, referring to MD3 Law, is based on physical attendance, not just the signing of the register. These Meetings should have been adjourned! Since when are we basing attendance on mere signatures only? Why was it validated with a only 80 people in attendance? That’s not yet the quorum! How can we declare a quorum if the process is not proper? There are just too many flaws,” he said in a discussion held in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Saturday (28/09/2019). 

DPR’s lousy job performance is not worthy of its budgeting function either. DPR failed to critique the burgeoning of debts due to continued increase of deficits, even though it knows very well that such level in debt increase would cause the State’s finances to collapse. At the same time, DPR voted to increase the budget for its own expenditures year after year. In the 2015 State Budget, the budget allocated to DPR was IDR 3.598 trillion, while its budget this year was voted at IDR 5.7 trillion. “That means that DPR cares for its own interests more than for pro-people programs,” he said. 

Formappi further concludes that in terms of monitoring, the monitoring and supervisory teams DPR has established have not worked optimally. Of the 9 monitoring and supervisory teams established, only 6 have submitted their Performance Report as of 18 September 2019. Of the remaining teams, 2 have not come around to submitting their report, and 1 remains ambiguous. The task forces created by the Committees also showed minimal achievement. Even though 2 Special Committees were established, there was no use for them, as their recommendations were all ignored. In fact, DPR barely even followed up on any findings by the State’s Audit Board (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan – “BPK”)! 

DPR has been weak in providing recommendations to its work partners. Furthermore, it also failed to utilize its interpellation rights, its inquiry rights, or to express its opinions whenever it is dissatisfied with the explanation given to it by any ministry or State agency it works with. 

Formappi also considers that other than its abject failure to function properly, DPR also deservedly suffers a bad reputation because of multiple instances of budget deviations, code of conduct violations, and extreme laziness. “The leadership had to be replaced three times due to violation of ethics and involvement in corruption cases! This shows just how bad DPR’s performance was. Especially since these changes in leadership caused lack of continuity in DPR’s programs. Even new programs have failed to improve DPR performance,” Lucius stated at Formappi’s Office on Thursday (26/09/2019). 

Member of DPR’s Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keahlian Sejahtera – “PKS”) Mardani Ali Sera hopes that DPR can finish these “homework” in the next term. “Today is the Termination of DPR 2014-2019’s Term of Office. I would like to apologize to the people if we have not done our best. We request that you pray for us in order for us to contribute better in implementing our mandate,” he said on Monday (30/09/2019). 

Mardani admits that some of the homework left behind by DPR 2014- 2019 include a large number of Priority RUU stuck and unvalidated in the Prolegnas, whether suggested by the Government or DPR. “It has become a lesson for us all. In the future, we must be able to work harder and more effectively with the Government when discussing Draft Laws in order to realize them successfully,” he said. 

Mardani further hopes that DPR can balance the Government, as our Government is still wishy-washy due to the domination of its political party coalition. “We should implement check and balance mechanisms properly as the people’s representatives. We as a nation are facing a lot of tests. For example, DPR must speak up for cases such as forest fires; college and high school student protests in Papua, especially Wamena that end up with casualties; hoaxes by law enforcement officers. We also need to carefully review other issues, like the move of the capital city, when we implement control, legislative, and budgeting functions,” he said.