Fri, 22 Aug 2003

House plans to revise autonomy law

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To be consistent with the newly enacted law on direct presidential election, the House of Representatives will propose the direct election of regional heads in its draft revision of the Regional Autonomy Law.

House Commission II on legal and home affairs has set up a team to draft the revision, focusing on this particular issue.

The government had submitted its draft revision of the law, but it accorded too much power to the president to intervene in the election of regional heads, thus prompting the House to develop its own draft revision.

Deputy chairman of Commission II Ferry Mursyidan Baldan said on Thursday that the team was still evaluating the implementation of regional autonomy and seeking inputs from regions in order to develop the draft revision.

Declining to provide further details on the evaluation, Ferry said his commission would propose several pertinent ideas, including the direct election of regional heads, to alleviate the negative impacts experienced in the three years since regional autonomy was implemented.

"The team will present the results of our evaluation as important inputs for the commission to take into consideration in preparing the draft revision," he said.

Ferry added that direct election of governors, regents and mayors were expected to help develop democracy and maintain regional political stability.

Gubernatorial and regental elections have raised numerous problems, including cases involving bribery, and have disrupted political stability in a number of provinces and regencies.

"If governors, regents and mayors are directly elected by the people, such bribery cases can be avoided and political conditions in regions will be relatively more stable," Ferry said, adding that the election of regional heads conducted by regional legislatures was only one of several complicated issues that had arisen with the implementation of regional autonomy.

Ferry said that besides the regional head elections, his commission would also propose the establishment of administrative borders to prevent conflicts between provinces, between regencies and between regencies and mayoralties.

"The unclear administrative borders have given rise to issues on administration income and natural resources, which have frequently become the source of conflicts between provinces and regencies," he said.

Director General of Public Administration and Regional Autonomy Oentarto was unavailable on Thursday to comment on the issue.

The government proposed that the law be reviewed only a year after regional autonomy was implemented on Jan. 1, 2000.

It had also proposed the annulment of thousands of conflicting bylaws that do not support regional autonomy, while issuing hundreds of regulations to cope with problems caused by its enforcement.