In what could be seen as a triumph of the online movement against misogyny, the House of Representatives on Wednesday left out rape joke judge Muhammad Daming Sunusi from the list of eight candidates who had passed the fit and proper test for Supreme Court justice positions.
Members of the House Commission III overseeing law and human rights apparently bowed to public pressure by giving a “no” vote to Daming in the selection process.
The House commission, however, denied that it had caved in to public pressure.
“No one voted for him not because of public pressure but simply because he didn’t have the quality to become a Supreme Court justice,” chairman of House Commission III I Gede Pasek Suardika told reporters.
Daming caused a national uproar last week after making a statement that some rape cases might involve consensual sex and thus may require more lenient sentences.
His most controversial statement, however, was that rape victims “may enjoy the intercourse”.
Condemnation quickly poured in after Daming’s statement circulated on social media outlets, the popular micro-blogging site Twitter in particular, with users directly sending their feeds to lawmakers, calling on them to disqualify Daming’s candidacy. The story was then picked up by the conventional media, which then ran it as a headline. International media also published the story, further increasing the pressure on Daming.
Daming later made a public statement apologizing for what he considered a slip of the tongue that resulted from him being under pressure during the fit and proper test.
After an inquiry, the Judicial Commission (KY) decided that Daming had breached the code of ethics and recommended the Supreme Court sack him from his current position.
However, not everyone was happy with the House decision to disqualify Daming.
Former Constitutional Court chief justice Jimly Asshiddiqie said on Wednesday that it was wrong to dismiss Daming over his insensitive joke.
“Dismissing him is going overboard as he [Daming] apologized for his slip of the tongue. Daming is an example of the Indonesian male. It’s part of our culture to treat women inappropriately,” Jimly said on the sidelines of a meeting at the House on Wednesday.
However, Jimly added, Daming should still be punished for making such a controversial statement in public because he was applying for an important position at the Supreme Court.
The House Commission III lawmakers, meanwhile, said that they were dissatisfied with the final result from the fit and proper test.
Hours before the lawmakers finally agreed to hold a vote to select eight out of 24 candidates, they were complaining over the poor quality of the candidates and criticized the KY for forwarding the names of the
candidates in question.
Earlier in January, members of Commission III called for the process to be suspended until the KY was able to propose better and more qualified candidates. The KY holds the preliminary test for the Supreme Court justice candidates.
Suardika said the most blatant display of the KY’s amateurism was when it sent a letter to the House calling for the disqualification of a candidate, Nommy HT Siahaan of the Medan High Court in North Sumatra, on the suspicion that he may have accepted bribes.
“It seems to me that the KY is amateurish. The institution is unprofessional,” said Suardika, a Democratic Party politician, on Wednesday.
Fellow Commission III member Sarifuddin Sudding of the People’s Conscience (Hanura) Party, was concerned about the candidates’ poor grasp of basic legal knowledge.
Sarifuddin recalled his experience in interviewing Sri Muryanto, a judge from the Mataram High Court in West Nusa Tenggara.
“How can you claim that you have experience in making a dissenting opinion if you don’t know what a concurring opinion is? You need to read a lot to be able to differentiate the two terms,” Sarifuddin said.
On Wednesday, the House Commission III voted for eight Supreme Court justices. The new justices are Hamdi of the Yogyakarta High Court, Muhammad Syarifuddin of the Supreme Court monitoring division, I Gusti Agung Sumanatha of the Supreme Court education and training division, Irfan Fachruddin of the Jakarta State Administrative Court, Margono of the Makassar High Court, Burhan Dahlan of the Military Court, Desnayeti of the Padang High Court and Yakup Ginting of Banjarmasin High Court.