Wed, 15 Mar 2000

Akbar backs Muladi for Supreme Court

JAKARTA (JP): Golkar Party chairman Akbar Tandjung said on Tuesday he would like former justice minister Muladi to head the Supreme Court.

"We hope Pak Muladi will become one of the leaders of the Supreme Court," said Akbar, who is also the speaker of the House of Representatives.

He rejected suggestions that Muladi's nomination would reflect badly on the party because of the close association of the former rector of Diponegoro University with former president B.J. Habibie.

Akbar contended that Muladi possessed the legal experience and skills to warrant his consideration for the job.

"Talking about Habibie, I myself was a minister under Habibie," said Akbar, who served as state secretary under Habibie and held two ministerial terms under former president Soeharto.

Besides Muladi, he said the party would also nominate former judge Benjamin Mankoedilaga as a justice.

The chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction in the House, Tafiqurrahman Saleh, earlier rejected supporting Muladi's nomination through the House.

Muladi is chief of the human rights division of the Habibie Center and a legal consultant for military top brass who were allegedly responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor.

A proposal for Muladi's nomination in the House is likely to receive close scrutiny from many legislators.

Chairman of the Indonesia Unity and Nationality Faction (FKKI) Sutradara Gintings said the House should closely examine his track record before making a decision.

"If necessary, we can conduct a vote after his track record has been discussed," Sutradara said.


In a related development, four non-governmental organizations proposed the establishment of a working group to screen candidates for supreme justices, which would serve as the forerunner of an honorary board for the court.

The four organizations -- the National Consortium for Legal Reform (KRHN), the Indonesian Bar Association (Ikadin), the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and the Alliance of Independence Journalists (AJI) -- underlined the importance of establishing the working group to ensure transparency in the recruitment of the court's members.

YLBHI's chairman Bambang Widjojanto said on Tuesday that the working group was needed to evaluate the performance of the candidates to avoid any connection to corruption, collusion and nepotism.

"We need to remove corrupt judges from the candidacy list, and it's about time the people participated in the recruitment of their judges," Bambang said.

Justices were formerly appointed solely by the government and they were named based on their seniority in the judiciary, not on their capability, he said.

KRHN's chairman Irianto Subiyakto added that the working group would focus on evaluating the candidates' experience in line with the group's criteria for the justices.

"The candidates should be carefully selected by assessing their legal outlook, integrity and dedication through their court indictments, if the candidates are judges, or their published legal analyses."

The work of the Supreme Court is under intense scrutiny. It is particularly timely given that it has submitted a list of 36 judges for the Supreme Court.

Bambang also said that an external body to monitor and evaluate the work of the Supreme Court was needed.

He said such a mechanism would help the Supreme Court produce professional judges and worthy verdicts.

He said the working group would submit the proposal on the honorary board to the House in two months in a bid to gain formal support of its establishment. (01/jun)