Wed, 06 Aug 2003

House of Representatives set to endorse constitutional court bill

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With several contentious issues remaining, the House of Representatives has arranged another extraordinary plenary meeting on Wednesday in the hope that the constitutional court bill can be approved.

House Speaker Akbar Tandjung said on Tuesday the decision was reached between the House leaders, faction leaders and the special committee deliberating the bill on Monday.

The original schedule of the plenary meeting to seek House approval of the bill was set for Aug. 11, as all the House members are attending the Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly, which was originally slated to close on Aug. 10.

The Assembly has cut the session to seven days, giving the lawmaking body until Thursday to complete its work.

Akbar said deliberation on the bill had continued on the sidelines of the Assembly session as the House had failed to endorse the bill on July 31.

The House and the government are trying to meet the Aug. 17, 2003 deadline for the formation of the constitutional court as stipulated by the amended 1945 Constitution.

With only one day left before the Wednesday extraordinary plenary, the special committee deliberating the bill is trying to settle pending matters, including requirements for the judges who will sit in the court, procedures for the impeachment of the president, the judicial review mechanism and a limit on the laws which are to be subject to judicial review.

Chief Justice Bagir Manan, Attorney General M.A. Rahman and Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra attended the debate, supposedly the final, held by the House special committee, which began at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

Deputy chairman of the committee, Ali Masykur Musa, said the President, the House and the Supreme Court would have ample time to select the judges. Each institution has the right to choose three judges, according to the bill.

Separately, Yusril said both the government and the House special committee had already agreed that impeachment could be sought for the president if he or she commits crimes that endanger the state.

Earlier President Megawati had asked the House to clarify the offenses that could lead to impeachment of a president as the bill says that the court is obliged to pass judgment over any allegation of the House that the president and/or vice president have, among other violations, committed "serious crimes" and "misconduct".

Yusril said the House would agree to limit laws eligible for judicial review to those enacted since the first amendment of the Constitution in 1999.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction has proposed that all laws be subject to review.