Deputy ministers keep working amid debates
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has opted not to follow experts’ suggestions to suspend or reappoint his deputy ministers following a Constitutional Court (MK) ruling concerning the legality of the posts.
“The court’s ruling document does not mention that the current deputy ministers are unconstitutional. Hence, all the 20 deputy ministers should continue their work,” Yudhoyono’s spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha, told reporters at the State Palace compound on Wednesday.
He said the President had received the ruling and begun to study the 84-page document.
“The President respects the court’s suggestion to review the Presidential Decree on the appointment of deputy ministers. It is possible that he would issue revisions,” he added.
On Tuesday, the MK ruled that the elucidation of Article 10 of the 2008 State Ministry Law, which was used to provide the legal basis of deputy minister positions, unconstitutional and not binding.
Responses over the ruling have been split.
Experts insist that the President’s decrees on the appointment of the 20 deputy minister were “legally paralyzed”.
“The Presidential Decree on the deputy ministers was made on the basis of Article 10, including its elucidation. Therefore, as a consequence of the court’s ruling, the decree has also become legally damaged,” said Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a state administrative expert.
Yusril, a former law and human rights minister, emphasized that the ruling consequently meant that the deputy ministers “would no longer be career officials.”
“For this reason, the President must fire all of them and appoint them again, or new ones if he desires, as deputy ministers,” he said.
The government, however, said that Article 10 itself had not been changed by the MK and thus no changes to the current lineup of the 20 deputy ministers should be made.
“The MK’s ruling does not change the nomenclature of the deputy ministry position,” Julian said.
Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh currently has two deputies: Musliar Kasim and Wiendu Nuryanti.
Musliar, who has been tasked to oversee education affairs, said that he would keep doing his job until the President instructed him not to because his appointment was the President’s prerogative.
“I still led a meeting with first echelon officials at my office this morning, and my colleagues allowed me to do. I understand that the ruling has sparked many interpretations. However, I am ready to head back home to be a lecturer at the Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, should the President ask me to give up my post,” Musliar said after a hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Law and Human Rights deputy minister Denny Indrayana echoed Musliar’s statement. He said he would be working as usual despite the ruling.
“I am now in Palembang [South Sumatra] for an official ministry task,” Denny told The Jakarta Post via text message.
The legality of deputy minister positions was challenged by an NGO called the National Movement for Corruption Eradication (GNPK) at the MK earlier this year.
The plaintiff claimed that deputy minister positions were unconstitutional and thus by paying their salaries and benefits, the government had suffered Rp 1.85 trillion (US$199.8 million) in losses.
— Ina Parlina contributed reporting
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