Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Reform movement 'has borne no fruit'

JAKARTA (JP): It has been more than a year since the repressive New Order regime was replaced by a more democratic government, but it has hardly made any progress a noted lawyer said over the weekend.

Instead, the anti-reform spirit still casts a shadow over the newly reborn nation as shown, for example, by bureaucrats who have no clear direction and build their powers on the basis of sectarianism and hedonism.

"The top decision makers, without psychological burden, have enjoyed recreation, arguing that it was for the sake of diplomacy and future investment," Todung said, in apparent reference to the many overseas trips President Abdurrahman Wahid has made during the first year of his tenure.

Todung, known for his reputation as a defender of human rights, was addressing a group at the Ismail Marzuki Art Center (TIM), marking the celebration of the center's 32nd anniversary.

In his speech titled When Law and Democracy are Marginalized, Todung said a gap stands between rural and urban economy, with people in villages still playing a peripheral role.

"They hardly enjoy the impact of an urban economy which interacts with other cities, regions and countries," he said.

The economic crisis has not only damaged the rupiah value, but ruined social and cultural resistance, which in turn results in social unrest, he maintained.

"Politics of course has a part in the unrest, but what happened in Maluku, Irian Jaya, Poso and Aceh was a result of a fragile economy," Todung said.

As for law, he said the New Order characteristic, which had little respect for the supremacy of law and had reduced the law to a mere instrument to maintain power, remains extant.

Law is still prone to trading and law enforcers serve themselves, money and their clients' interest rather than justice.

"So, don't blame people if they turn violent and run amok. They don't trust law enforcers anymore, so they see violence as the only way," Todung said.

He said people could not stand political and economic injustice any longer and have been frustrated by the pedestrian efforts to promote democratic values.

"This country's legal basis is indeed weak. History always refers to fair kings or queens, not a fair system. The colonial government succeeded in developing fear of law enforcers, not the law itself," he said. (hdn)