Thu, 24 Jul 2003

MPR hammers out agreement on outdated decrees

M. Taufiqurrahman The Jakarta Post Jakarta

The People's Consultative Assembly working committee agreed on Wednesday on the wording of a draft decree revoking more than 100 obsolete decrees, including the one on the impeachment of the late President Sukarno.

In a last preparatory meeting for the annual session, scheduled to take place between Aug. 1 and Aug. 10, members of the committee unanimously endorsed the final draft of the decree, which was presented by ad hoc committee II.

The latest version of the draft decree states that MPR Decree No. 25/1966 on the dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) will be revoked. However, the ban on Marxism and Communism will be maintained given their incompatibility with the state ideology Pancasila.

There are only eight decrees that will be scrapped unconditionally, including MPR Decree No. 6/1973 on the structure and composition of the highest law-making body and high state institutions, and MPR Decree No. 13/1998, which limits the number of presidential terms that may be served. The amended Constitution already restricts a president's tenure to two five- year periods at the most.

The MPR also plans to revoke some of its decrees after a new government is formed following the 2004 general election. These include controversial Decree No. 4/2000 on regional autonomy and Decree No. 2/2002 on the acceleration of economic recovery.

Chairman of the ad hoc committee Rambe Kamarulzaman said that the draft decree would be presented to the assembly's annual session for approval.

A constitutional law expert, Sri Soemantri, said that revocation of the obsolete decrees would not automatically annul laws that used the decrees as their basis.

He said that once a law was enacted there was no way to annul it, unless a new law was issued to replace it or revoke it.

"In the 1950's, there were a lot of laws and government regulations made under provisional Constitution, but after it was revoked these laws still continued in effect. The most important thing is the content of a law, whether or not it contradicts the state Constitution," he told The Jakarta Post.

During Wednesday's meeting, the working committee also agreed on the draft decree on the establishment of the constitutional commission, which will carry out a comprehensive review of the amendments made to the 1945 Constitution between 1999 and 2002.

The commission will consist of 31 members, be appointed by the MPR working committee and be accountable to the highest law- making body.

The commission's mandate will only last for six months after its establishment.

Apart from the high-profile issues, BP MPR also approved the schedule of the annual session.

All the 700 Assembly members will stay at the Mulia Hotel, near the national legislative complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

During past annual sessions, Assembly members stayed at different venues based on their political affiliations.

The annual session will cost taxpayers Rp 20 billion (US$2.4 million).