Thu, 17 Jul 2003

Assembly gears up for Annual Session

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) is gearing up for its Annual Session due to start on Aug. 1 and end on Aug. 10.

The 10-day session will discuss, among other things, the establishment of the Constitutional Court, the revocation of over 100 obsolete MPR decrees issued between 1960 and 2002, and the annual report of state institutions.

At least 638 journalists working for both domestic and foreign media have already registered to cover the session.

Assembly secretary-general Rahimullah said on Wednesday the event would cost Rp 20 billion (US$2.35 million) and the Ministry of Finance's director for budget had already approved the budget.

Rahimullah, however, refused to give details of the fund allotment, saying that the issue would be discussed on July 22.

He said the fund would be allocated for five main areas -- security, accommodation, travel, materials, and official staff.

Asked whether the Assembly secretary-general would ask for more security personnel to safeguard the session, Rahimullah said the issue would be discussed on Thursday between Assembly leaders, the Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, and Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanegara.

An MPR ad hoc committee deliberating the revocation of the Assembly decrees was still debating on Wednesday 139 obsolete decrees issued between 1960 and 2002.

During the discussion, the ad hoc committee invited several experts who agreed on the whole that even though the decrees had not been revoked many of them were no longer effective.

The experts also debated whether or not MPR decree No.25/1966 banning communism should be revoked.

Following the adoption of the bill on direct presidential and vice presidential elections, an MPR decree on the mechanism of presidential and vice presidential election by the MPR will surely be revoked during the Annual Session.

Meanwhile, a source said the 700 MPR members would stay at the five-star Mulia Hotel, close to the Assembly building, during the sessions. Each of the members would receive Rp 150,000 per day in attendance money.

Unlike the previous four Annual sessions, this year's gathering will not discuss amendments to the Constitution.

It is still unclear whether the upcoming Annual Session will be the last for the current MPR.