Tue, 30 Aug 1994

House should learn from criticisms

JAKARTA (JP): Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Wahono appealed to members yesterday to carry out self-examination in the face of mounting criticisms about its role in Indonesia's democracy.

During a plenary session, Wahono reminded the 500-member institution that the House has been widely criticized in the past concerning its effectiveness in representing the people's interests.

"We should accept all criticisms, suggestions and aspirations of the people sent to the House with a clear mind and open arms so that we can really see our own shortcomings and then strive to make amends," he said in a speech marking the 49th anniversary of the House and of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) which he also chairs.

The House has often been portrayed as of being merely a government's rubber-stamp agency, specially given that it has never initiated its own legislation. All the laws have been drafted by the government and virtually all were passed by the House with little change, although one or two were subjected to stiff debate.

Wahono however defended the House's record, at least since he has been at the helm since 1992.

"The House has tried its best to accommodate and channel the people's wishes," he said.

As examples of the House's recent successes, he cited the abolition of the state lottery SDSB last November and the first public disclosure of the Rp 1.3 trillion ($620 million) loan scandal at Bapindo, a government bank, early this year.

He also said that the rising number of people who are turning to the DPR to air their complaints and grievances reflect the increasing confidence they put in the institution.

He said DPR could only channel the people's aspirations and that a lot depends on how the executive branch responds. "However, the House is truly committed to accommodating the people's wishes because that is its constitutional task and function."

Its chief task is to exercise political control over the government's activity, and in this regard, it is the duty of the House's commissions to scrutinize the government's agencies and officials, he said.

Wahono also welcomes the proposal from the Supreme Audit Agency (Bepeka) to present the report of its findings to the House on a semester basis instead of yearly, which he said will further facilitate the DPR's supervision task.

"This is a major improvement because the House will now be able to obtain data and information earlier," he said.

DPR/MPR Secretary General Afif Ma'roef meanwhile in a speech before the staff of the House's Secretariat said yesterday that the public is demanding a more effective role of both houses.

"Both MPR and DPR have made improvements but there is still criticism and we have to accept these to develop ourselves," Afif said. (emb)

Editorial -- Page 4