Sat, 12 Aug 2000

Has the MPR absorbed people's wishes?

JAKARTA (JP): Members of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) deliberating amendments to the 1945 Constitution denied on Friday allegations that their work lacked transparency.

Contacted separately by The Jakarta Post, they said the MPR ad hoc committee I for constitutional amendments had done its best and accommodated as many people's aspirations as possible.

"I don't think those groups protesting know that we have traveled around the country to absorb ideas from local bureaucrats, academics and activists during our nine-month tenure," said Valina Singka Subekti of the interest groups faction.

"We held hearings with more than 200 organizations from various backgrounds. We also organized national seminars on constitutional amendments."

Several groups have protested the amendment drafts, saying they need improvement by including their advice or removing some articles.

The Nusantara Indigenous People's Alliance (AMAN), for example, has demanded that the Constitution provides protection for and pays attention to indigenous people.

One of the controversies is an article that maintains the presence of Indonesian Military and National police officers in the Assembly despite the legislative body's decree stipulating a gradual phaseout of the nonelected Assembly members representing the military and police.

Valina said it was important to compromise on sensitive articles.

Slamet Effendy Yusuf of the Golkar Party faction also defended the MPR ad hoc committee, which he said had completed its duties satisfactorily.

"The ad hoc committee visited all provinces to look for regional aspirations. We also invited scientific and professional organizations to absorb their ideas," he said.

"I have to admit, however, that perhaps there are discontented parties, especially those who were not involved in the drafting process. But we could not involve them all," he added.

Slamet said it was natural if people were disappointed for not being involved in the drafting of constitutional amendments.

"But it's all wrong if they think their absence in the process has made the amendments invalid," he said.

"I don't think those protesting groups understand the nature of our job in the committee, or have ever even paid a little bit of attention to what we have done."

Separately, Dimyati Hartono of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) said although aspirations could be accommodated, it was another story whether to write them in.

"We can't just take all aspirations into consideration while we are amending the constitution. We have to select which aspirations deserve attention," he said.

He said the Assembly should not make unnecessary changes to the Constitution. (nvn)