Tue, 29 Jul 2003

'MPR annual session a waste of funds'

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The upcoming Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) has already lost its relevance and is nothing but a waste of state money, a political analyst says.

Andi Alfian Malarangeng, an analyst from the Jakarta-based Institute of Public Administration, said it would be better if the funds allocated for the session went to the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the cash-strapped Election Monitoring Committee, which are preparing for far bigger and more crucial events next year.

The Annual Session will run between Aug. 1 and Aug. 10 and cost taxpayers Rp 20 billion (US$2.4 million), the same amount spent last year. But compared to the previous assembly sessions, this year's event will not see the grueling and energy-sapping debate on constitutional amendments.

Malarangeng also said the establishment of a Constitutional Commission in the coming session was a meaningless effort by the country's highest lawmaking body.

"It will not live up to the people's expectations, because what I have learned from their concept, the planned commission is a weak and dependent one," he was quoted as saying by Antara on Monday.

Malarangeng's statement came as the Assembly was gearing up for the session, in which the establishment of the Constitutional Commission would be one of three main topics the 700 legislators would discuss.

The other two topics were hearing progress reports presented by President Megawati Soekarnoputri, the House of Representatives (DPR), the Supreme Audit Body (BPK) and the Supreme Court (MA) and revoking more than 100 obsolete decrees enacted between 1966 and 2002.

On Friday, Aug. 1, after the opening remarks from the MPR speaker and endorsement of the session's schedule in the first plenary meeting, Megawati will be given 60 minutes to deliver a report on her government's achievements and efforts to implement MPR decrees mandated to her last year.

Next in the pipeline will be House Speaker Akbar Tandjung, BPK Chairman Satrio B. Joedono and Chief Justice Bagir Manan, who each will be given 30 minutes to present their progress reports.

As for the Supreme Advisory Council (DPA), the MPR has decided not to invite the institution, which has not legally existed since last year.

Lawmakers disbanded the 30-strong DPA last year when they completed the constitutional amendments, but the institution continues to exist until today.

MPR leaders have asked Megawati, as the head of state, to issue a decree on retirement of the DPA members.

During the third plenary session scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 2, each one of factions in the MPR will have no more than 30 minutes to present comments on the progress reports delivered by state institutions.

However, there are no legal consequences against the President and other state institutions if their reports are considered unsatisfactory by the MPR.

Chairman of the special ad hoc committee tasked with preparing the schedules for the Annual Session, Alihardi Kiaidemak, has said MPR members would start on Aug. 3 discussing draft decrees prepared by the MPR working committees.

The MPR is expected to endorse all the decrees during a plenary meeting on Aug. 10 and hand them to the President, the House speaker and the chief justice for implementation.