Thu, 10 Jul 2003

House off on holiday, leaving plethora of outstanding bills

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives closed its session on Wednesday with the same old problem -- a massive backlog of outstanding bills.

In the session from April 28 to July 9, the House only managed to endorse five out of the 41 scheduled bills: the national education bill, ILO convention on manpower supervision bill, state enterprises bill, presidential elections bill, and the composition of the legislative bodies bill.

A number of legislators pledged to continue their deliberation of the constitutional court bill during recess and vowed to bring the bill up for endorsement on July 31.

"God willing, the constitutional court bill will have been endorsed by the end of July or early August," House Speaker Akbar Tandjung told a plenary meeting here on Wednesday.

The government and a number of experts have warned the House not to rush to endorse the constitutional court bill, but rather return the matter to the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which will convene its annual session in early August, and ask the assembly to give more time for the establishment of the constitutional court.

The House, however, has decided to continue its deliberation of the bill, and has promised to finish it before August 17.

In an attempt to meet the August 17, 2003 target for the establishment of the constitutional court, Akbar said the House would organize an extraordinary plenary meeting during recess to endorse the bill either on July 31 or August 11, 2003.

The time needed to finish the deliberation of the bill, Akbar said, was because of the many contentious issues in the bill as well as the legislators' desire to hear the views of the public.

"All bills that have not been finished will be deliberated in the next session," Akbar said.

He added that among the bills that would receive top priority were those on the Supreme Court, the State Administrative Court, the public courts, the prosecutor's office, the protection of Indonesians working overseas, and the resolution of industrial disputes.

With the closing speech by the House speaker, the legislators will be on holiday from July 10 through August 14. In early August, they will participate in the MPR's annual session.

Touching on the House's supervisory role, Akbar said the House planned to summon the President to explain the loss of Sipadan and Ligitan islands, to investigate the sale of PT Indosat, and to investigate the purchase of Russian Sukhoi jet fighters and helicopters.

The House, Akbar said, would also keep on monitoring the military emergency in Aceh. He said that the joint operation in the province was on the right track.

The House has formed a team to evaluate the joint operation, which has now been running for 50 days.

Meanwhile, the plenary meeting on Wednesday also endorsed the establishment of a special committee to deliberate the bill on the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission.

The special committee consists of 50 members from various factions.