Sat, 12 Aug 2000

MPR scolded for its reluctance to end military representation

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) became the latest organization on Friday to criticize the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) for its reluctance to end military and police representation in the legislative body.

Foundation vice chairman Munir cited the use of ambiguous language about the Indonesian Military (TNI)'s legislative role in the draft amendment to the 1945 Constitution as evidence of the Assembly's inability to bring the military's political role to an end.

"There are strong indications of the revitalization of the New Order and opportunistic behavior by civilian politicians in the MPR. These will lead to betrayal of the vision and the mission of reform movement," Munir said in a statement.

The statement was also signed by the coordinator of the National Law Reforms Consortium, Trianto Subiakto.

The draft amendment states: "TNI members do not have the right to vote or to be elected. Their participation in determining the direction of national policies is channeled through the MPR."

Many suspect the draft opens up the possibility for the military to retain its seats in the Assembly because it also states: "The Assembly members comprise of elected members and interest group representatives, who because of their duties and functions can not exercise voting rights."

The 1945 Constitution itself does not touch upon the military's political role. The TNI/National Police faction currently has 38 seats in the Assembly.

The 11 factions in the Assembly have refrained from using strong words when expressing their views about the issue, despite mounting public demands to abandon military representation in the legislative body.

"The MPR's decision has victimized the principles of democracy and human rights for short-term political interests," Munir commented on the 11 factions' attitude. (prb)