Wed, 02 Jul 2003

Civil servants not enthused over reregistration

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government-initiated reregistration of civil servants failed to gain momentum on its initial day on Tuesday with civil servants appearing decidedly unenthusiastic.

"We should not have to undergo this screening process as this country should believe that we will always support and voice our loyalty for the Unitary Republic of Indonesia," a civil servant in the Supreme Court said when The Jakarta Post interviewed him at his office on Tuesday.

"If the government insists on carrying out screening, why don't they start with top government officials instead of the likes of us who have no influence over the institution's day-to- day policies?" the civil servant -- who requested anonymity -- asked.

"Anyway, we still haven't received the forms," he added.

A similar mood prevailed in the Ministry of Home Affairs, with many state employees still to complete the forms even though the ministry's secretariat had been distributing them since Thursday of last week.

"The government wants us to return it within a month, so why should we complete it in a hurry? I haven't read it anyway," an employee said.

On Tuesday, the government started a one-month "reregistration" drive among civil servants, arguing that the country had not carried out such an exercise since 1974.

Some have even called the scheme a political screening process as the program was announced amid the government's military campaign in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province to crush the secessionist movement there.

The government has also said that civil servants in Aceh will have to undergo special political screening so as "to determine their loyalty to the Unitary Republic of Indonesia."

The Civil Service Board (BKN), which comes under the supervision of the Office of the State Ministry for Administrative Reform, has been given the task of carrying out the reregistration, which will would cost the government around Rp 11 billion (US$1.3 million).

Dismissing allegations that the government was screening civil servants in the same way as the New Order regime had once done to root out sympathizers with the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), the Office of the State Minister earlier said that the reregistration was merely a procedural matter in order to get up- to-date data on civil servants and build up a comprehensive database on them.

But Syarifudin, a civil servant in the Ministry of Home Affairs Directorate General for Special Autonomy, said the Civil Service Board was supposed to maintain a database on state employees as "all the processes starting with the recruitment, payment and promotion of civil servants can only be gone through after approval from the BKN has been received."

There are around 1,129 state employees in the Supreme Court and some 2,000 working with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

"It is so ridiculous for the Civil Service Board to claim it does not have an up-to-date database ... but anyway, this is our first experience filling in this type of form. We have never had to do it before ... never mind ...," Syarifudin told the Post resignedly.