Wed, 22 Nov 2000

PDI-P rejects all seven chief justice candidates

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) has turned down all seven chief justice candidates proposed by the House of Representatives, saying they fail to live up to people's expectations.

The party's deputy secretary-general Pramono Anung said the decision was taken during a weekly executive meeting presided over by chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri on Tuesday.

"If the House cannot name alternative candidates, the party's board of executives will ask their representatives in the House to abstain from voting for the chief justice," Pramono said.

But the party fell short of proposing alternative candidates.

"We admit that it is very difficult to find someone who meets all the criteria but we believe there must be another person who would be more fitting for the post," Pramono said.

The House has named former judge Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, former justice minister Muladi, lawyer Artidjo Alkostar, law professor Bagir Manan, and supreme court justices Usman Karim, Soeharto and Toton Suprapto as candidates for chief justice.

The House will then vote for two candidates for the President to select a chief justice. The public is currently appraising the seven candidates.

Pramono said a screening of the seven candidates revealed that the nominees "were not clean, honest or credible and were part of the old regime."

"The next chief justice should be one who can shoulder the consequences of being 'supreme'. The candidate must also have a good track record," Pramono said.

Separately, Muladi reiterated his preparedness to take on the Supreme Court top post while denying reports that he was nominated by the Golkar party,

"We should not differentiate candidates based on their political affiliation. Besides, who said that I have been nominated by Golkar?" he said on the sidelines of a seminar conducted by the Habibie Center on Tuesday.

According to Muladi, a chief justice should be elected because of his or her competence and not the backing of a political party.

Golkar has announced it would vote for Muladi during the selection of chief justice.

The race for the top position at the Supreme Court began after chief justice Sarwata reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 in August. His place is temporarily being filled by Deputy Justice Th. Ketut Sura Putra.

Bagir top

A non-governmental organization, the Indonesian Institute for Independent Judiciary (LeIP), unveiled the results of a recent survey which put Bagir, a professor at the Bandung-based Padjadjaran University, ahead of the other six candidates.

Rifqi Sjarief Assegaf, LeIp's executive secretary, told a hearing with the House Commission II for domestic and legal affairs on Tuesday, the survey could help the House select a candidate who lived up to people's expectations.

He said the study, conducted with the help of some universities, focused on the candidates' personal integrity, performance and statements which appeared in mass media.

Among the reasons for the respondents' choice of Bagir were his "democratic, open, honest and firm style, and his willingness to listen to his subordinates."

Bagir is also known for his integrity, for example, he had rejected an application for notary public made by a son-in-law of Muladi, who was then the minister of justice. (01/02)