Thu, 30 Jan 2003

Legislators undecided on three issues

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Under pressure of time constraints, a number of legislators and government officials are holding closed-door meetings at Hotel Horison in Ancol, North Jakarta, to resolve a number of contentious issues regarding the general election bill.

Legislators taking part in the meeting are trying to resolve at least three issues: application of the open-list system, general election requisites for political parties, and campaigning by public officials.

"So far, we have not reached an agreement on these three issues," Ahmad Chozin Chumaidy of the United Development Party (PPP) faction at the House of Representatives told The Jakarta Post.

He said around 20 members of the House's drafting committee for the bill, the leaders of nine factions and government officials met at the hotel to try and finalize the political bill, which was expected to be passed into law on Feb. 11.

But, he added, the participants found the three issues the most difficult to resolve.

The major parties were divided in regards the application of the open-list system, under which voters can elect their representatives directly. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) wanted the system implemented at the provincial level, while the Golkar Party preferred the regental level.

In regards the election requirements for political parties, Chozin said the main issue dealt with a stipulation of the old election law, that only parties with at least 2 percent of House seats could contest in the 2004 elections.

Finally, he said that a debate had also arose over the issue of limiting the number of public officials in election campaigns.

"Could the president, vice president, governors, regents and mayors all take part in election campaigns to represent their political parties? That remains unresolved," he said.

Activists, however, heavily criticized the meeting in Ancol.

Chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) Hendardi said the meeting indicated that legislators were insensitive to the problems faced by the majority of Indonesian people, who were suffering from various price increases.

"How could they claim that they are representatives of the people when they are not sensitive to what the people are going through? All I can say is that such behavior only confirms that they do not deserve to be representing the people," he told the Post.

He also remarked that the meeting could have easily been held at government offices, which had adequate meeting facilities.