Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Tenure has no limit: House

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Members of the House of Representatives (DPR) and politicians rejected the idea of limiting the tenure of the legislators, saying it was against democracy.

They said the terms in office of legislators depended solely on the acceptance of their constituents who elected their representatives every five years.

"The restriction violates democracy. Moreover, people are now given a chance of directly electing their preferred representatives," legislator Ali Masykur Musa of the National Awakening Party (PKB) told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Alvin Lie of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said the limitation idea required "thorough deliberation" before coming into effect.

The two were commenting on the Constitutional Commission's proposal to limit the tenure of legislative council members to two five-year terms, parallel to the amended Constitution that allows the president and vice president to take office for a maximum two five-year terms.

Many incumbent legislators have been in the job for more than two five-year terms -- some even for two decades. The House has come under persistent criticism for its poor performance in legislation duties.

Commission deputy head Albert Hasibuan said the limitation was aimed at creating a balance of power between the executive and legislative bodies as well as curbing corruption.

It's proposal will come into law if it is approved by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) when it reconvenes in May. All House legislators are MPR members.

Meanwhile, Bomer Pasaribu of the Golkar Party said the limitation would not automatically reduce corruption in the country.

He said corruption could be eradicated through the improvement of law enforcement and judicial reform.

"I am afraid that the proposal will pervert the constitutional amendment. The limitation may also provoke legislators to try to 'collect' more money in their second term in office," he said.

MPR legislator Baharuddin Aritonang had said earlier the existing assembly would be unlikely to support the proposal.

He said the commission could only hope for approval from the new legislators who are elected in the April 5 polls.

The commission was set up by the MPR to harmonize amendments it made to the 1945 Constitution.