National

House powers must be curtailed:
Experts

Decisive vote: In this Dec. 2011 file photo, members of the House of Representatives Commission III on law and human rights were voting for the chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Commission III selected Abraham Samad to chair the antigraft body until 2015 with 43 votes from the total 56 lawmakers. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
Decisive vote: In this Dec. 2011 file photo, members of the House of Representatives Commission III on law and human rights were voting for the chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Commission III selected Abraham Samad to chair the antigraft body until 2015 with 43 votes from the total 56 lawmakers. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

The House of Representatives should be stripped of its power to select members of important state commissions such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to avoid conflicts of interest, experts say.

Allowing the lawmakers to select public officials is unhealthy, says former Constitutional Court chief justice Jimly Asshiddiqie.

“It’s better for the House to stop conducting fit-and-proper tests as it only wastes their time. They seem to ask serious questions during such tests but the fact is they already know beforehand who they are going to select,” Jimly told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting at the House recently.

He, therefore, called for a revision to the existing laws to limit the House’s role in selecting members for state institutions.

Ronald Rofiandri from the Center for Legal and Policy Studies (PSHK)concurred with Jimly, saying the House’s involvement in such selections only added an extra burden on the lawmakers.

“The 1945 Constitution stipulates that the House has the authority to select officials for three public institutions, namely the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court,” Ronald told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Thus, he added, the House should leave the selection of members of the national commissions on human rights, corruption, child protection and so on to teams of experts in those respective fields.

Criticism has mounted questioning lawmakers’ impartiality in the recent selections of Supreme Court justices and members of Komnas HAM.

Earlier in November last year, rights activists accused lawmakers of intentionally selecting several Komnas HAM commissioners with poor track records in human rights in order to secure presidential nominations of party leaders that have been implicated in human rights violation cases.

The election of the current KPK leaders is also said to have been riddled with political lobbying that analysts say could compromise the antigraft body’s independence.

Commission III member Martin Hutabarat from the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party said that he supported the suggestion but emphasized that lawmakers’ approval of selected officials was absolute.

“Of course, political parties have their interests. We can establish a team of experts to carry out the selection but we must be allowed to say something on the selected figures before they are actually inaugurated,” he said.

Concurring with his fellow lawmaker, Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso encouraged the public to challenge the existing laws that allowed the House to engage in the selection of officials.

“We do what we’re doing because of the Constitution. I hope everyone can understand this. Nonetheless, people can encourage a change in the Constitution if they think that our authority needs to be reduced,” he said.

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