Tue, 01 Aug 2000

MPR factions still undecided over regional representatives

JAKARTA (JP): Party factions in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) remain undecided about a plan by 164 regional representatives to form their own faction at the upcoming MPR Annual Session.

Golkar faction, according to its deputy chairman Slamet Effendy Yusuf, said it would agree to the proposal with reservations.

"Regional representatives should be bipartisan because they were nominated by political parties through the provincial legislative councils. On one hand they should form a separate faction to channel regional interests and on the other hand they should be allowed to fight for the interests of their respective political parties," Slamet said here on Monday.

He said Golkar did not fear losing political support from 62 regional representatives in its faction if the terms were accepted in the Annual Session.

Postdam Hutasoit of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction, said his faction had no objections to the idea provided the Assembly's internal rulings were revised to accept the presence of a regional representative faction.

But he reminded that the MPR decided in its latest General Session last October to dissolve the regional representative faction at the proposal of its own members. Among the proponents were 31 regional representatives who joined PDI Perjuangan faction.

"It is already too late for the regional representatives to promote their proposal to reestablish the faction because before being proposed to the Assembly's Annual Session it should have won support from the Assembly Working Committee," Postdam said.

Aisyah Amini of the United Development Party (PPP) faction concurred and said the present regional representatives were actually representing political parties.

"PPP principally supports the presence of a separate regional representative faction at the Assembly but they should be nonpartisan figures elected in a general election," she said.

She said the 1999 law on the composition of MPR, House of Representatives and Provincial and Regency Legislatures needs revising to make certain that regional representatives would be selected from social leaders and figures who were not involved in politics or were members of political parties.

Oesman Sapta, chairman of the Regional Representatives Forum (FUD), said that the 164 regional representatives have agreed to fight this year for the reestablishment of their faction at the Assembly in line with the government's plan to implement regional autonomy next year.

"We will fight it out at the Annual Session because we can do nothing until 2004 without our own faction. We hope all factions at the Assembly understand the urgency of a regional representative faction in line with the implementation of the regional autonomy law next year," he said.

He warned that troubles in several regions, including Aceh, Irian Jaya, Maluku and Riau, are threatening the country's unity.

"The absence of comprehensive solutions to the problems have a part to do with political parties' primary interests in the legislative bodies," he said, adding that the current representative system would remain unhealthy if regional aspirations were not accommodated by the legislative bodies.

Harun Alrasid, a constitutional law expert from the University of Indonesia, hailed the regional representatives' intentions to reestablish their own faction at the Assembly, saying the faction was badly needed to channel regional aspirations.

Indonesia should learn from the representative system in the United States, Harun said. Although most regional representatives belong to political parties, some regions have elected independents with no political affiliation he said.

He said the representative system in Indonesia should also have regional representatives and their own faction because regions have unique problems, programs and interests that could be opposed by political parties. (rms)