Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Respect results of test on chief justice nominees

JAKARTA (JP): House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung called on legislators on Thursday to take the results of fit and proper tests on chief justice candidates into consideration during a vote to choose two of the nominees next week.

Although he admitted that the tests, conducted by the House Commission II for domestic and legal affairs, could be disregarded in the scheduled Dec. 5 vote, Akbar said every legislator should respect the outcome of the examination, which put former justice minister Muladi on top of the list.

"We had earlier agreed that the selection of the candidates was to be handled by House Commission II. We should respect that," Akbar, who is also chairman of the Golkar Party, told reporters.

"It would be a waste of time and energy if we just reject all that has been done."

After hours of screening, the House commission announced on Wednesday night that former Golkar deputy chairman Muladi led the pack of six candidates with an average score of 7.916, followed by academician Bagir Manan who scored 7.48. President Abdurrahman Wahid's preference Benjamin Mangkoedilaga was third with 7.351.

The 500-strong House will vote for two candidates and will let the President choose one of them for the Supreme Court top post which has been left vacant by Sarwata since September.

Lack of legitimacy may dog the election of the chief justice as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction, the largest in the House, plans to abstain in the vote, saying none of the candidates fit the bill for the position of chief justice.

The decision was taken during a weekly executive meeting presided over by chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri on Nov. 21. The faction will propose alternative candidates instead.

"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," the party's deputy secretary-general Pramono Anung said.

PDI Perjuangan senior legislator Soetardjo Soerjoguritno questioned the nomination of Muladi (who achieved the highest test result), whom he said was closely linked to the past government.

"We are not really interested in the candidates. Why Muladi? He is too close to the New Order regime," Soetardjo, who is also the deputy House speaker, said in a meeting with leaders of several Muslim political parties.

Akbar expressed his regret over the plan, saying the stance represented PDI Perjuangan's disrespect for the House procedure.

PDI Perjuangan holds 153 seats in the House after it finished first in the general elections last year.


Meanwhile lawyer Kamal Firdaus expressed the view that the supremacy of the law could not be upheld if Muladi was elected chief justice.

Speaking in a seminar on "Proposing Supreme Court Chief Justice" in Yogyakarta on Thursday, Kamal said Muladi's appointment to the Supreme Court top post would mean that all three state high institutions went to Golkar after Akbar was elected the House of Representatives speaker and Marzuki Darusman, who is Golkar deputy chairman, was named the attorney general.

A lecturer at the Gajah Mada University and Indonesian Islamic University Sahlan Said also expressed his doubt about Muladi's capability, saying that a chief justice should be nonpartisan.

"It's better if we give the chief justice post to a legal practitioner and someone who is non-partisan. Muladi is obviously partisan," Sahlan, who is also a judge in Magelang district court, said. (jun/swa)