Tue, 14 May 2002

House gives low priority to draft political laws

Muhammad Nafik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives insisted on Monday that the deliberation of three long-awaited political bills would commence at least late this month.

However, the draft laws -- the political party bill, the election bill and the formation and position of the House and the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) -- were not on the agenda released by the House's Secretariat for discussion during the next three-month session.

The legislature even failed to set a deadline as to when the new bills should be passed into law.

Analysts have repeatedly warned the House and the government that the delay in debating the bills could threaten the preparations for the 2004 general election.

In his speech during Monday's opening session, Deputy House Speaker Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno emphasized the urgency of the immediate debate on the draft laws.

"The revision of the (existing) political laws is very important for the General Election Commission (KPU) to prepare for the 2004 elections. Therefore, the government and the House should soon discuss and complete the passage of the (three new) political bills," he said.

In addition, Soetardjo said a new bill on the presidency would also be deliberated soon "because the draft law is extremely important and is closely related with the implementation of the 2004 elections."

Teras Narang, chairman of the House's Commission II dealing with laws, justice and human rights, urged the government to submit at least two of the bills to the legislature by the end of May for deliberation.

The two draft laws in question are the political party bill and the election bill, which were still with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said last week the government was prepared to file the bills in the near future, but did not say when.

Constitutional law experts and political observers have accused the government of deliberately buying time for its own political interests and the interests of other ruling elite.

"In this case the government is making political calculations," Satya Arinanto, a constitutional law expert at the University of Indonesia, told The Jakarta Post.

Apart from the legislation program, the House will start shortlisting 34 people, including Hendardi, Warda Hafidz and Habib Hirzin, for membership of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

At the same time, it would also begin the required fit and proper tests on the about 70 people whose names were put forward as new supreme court justices.

Bills to be deliberated or passed into law: Labor guidance and protection, Corruption eradication commission, Presidential institution, Medical practice, Sports affairs, Bank loans, Protection for children, Mechanism to enact law guidelines, State finance, State treasury, Presidential pardon, Freedom to obtain public information, Establishment of a Riau Islands province, Creation of new regencies, Broadcasting bill, National education, Settlement of industrial disputes, Electricity, National knowledge and technology systems, Building, Advocate profession, Property rights.