Fri, 08 Dec 2000

Kudos to the House

Kudos to the special committee of the House of Representatives (DPR) for their perseverance in looking for evidence of involvement of just anybody, including the President, in the Bulog, Brunei and other scams. I have my respect for those demanding that President Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur step down for his alleged involvement in the above mentioned cases.

However, as Gus Dur is a democratically elected President in a presidential system and because the constitution states that he will be president for five years, the parties criticizing Gus Dur or trying to bring him down must stick to the laws and the constitution. Rallies may be staged to show dislike for Gus Dur but they must be held in ways that do not disturb public order and that are free from coercion.

Staging violent rallies to bring Gus Dur down will be counter- productive because supporters of Gus Dur are sure to fight back. Therefore, any criticism must be channeled through the legislators in the DPR because the general election in 1999 was the fairest of all.

Then, if bringing down the President cannot be realized on the grounds of his violating the constitution or the broad outlines of the state policy, the safest way to do so is to legally prove that the President has committed a crime.

In this context, I support the hard effort that the House special committee has been making to probe into a number of cases. However, as a legal matter requires something to be proven and not simply assumed, the House special committee must immediately hand over existing evidence to the judicial institution for processing on a legal basis.

If later it turns out that Gus Dur is legally and convincingly proven to be involved in those cases, the DPR may convene a special session to dismiss Gus Dur as president. On the other hand, if Gus Dur cannot be proven to be involved in those cases, the House and the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) need not bring Gus Dur down before he completes his term as president. Although the MPR has the right to dismiss the President, it will violate the constitution if it brings down the President before his five-year tenure is completed because it is the constitution that has given Gus Dur a five-year mandate as Indonesia's president.

Once again, the only way to bring down the President is to prove that he has committed a crime and then convene a special session of the MPR to discharge him.