The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute ( LBH Jakarta ) has encouraged individuals who occupy strategic posts at the city administration to be brave in petitioning against 'baseless' decisions made by their superiors to remove them from their posts.
LBH Jakarta's Muhammad Isnur and Handika Febrian made the statement at the Jakarta State Administrative Court ( PTUN ) after the court ruled in favor of their client Retno Listyarti, who was removed from her post as the principal of state high school SMA 3 in South Jakarta.
'Hopefully the verdict today will motivate other high-ranking employees in the administration to follow suit in petitioning any baseless decisions to remove them from their posts,' Handika said.
He cited Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama as an example of an individual who often removed subordinates from particular posts.
'Bu Retno was removed by the Jakarta Education Agency's head [Arie Budhiman]. But, more specifically, this practice [of removing individuals] has been popular at the city administration recently,' he said, referring to Ahok.
'Hopefully the governor will no longer sanction individuals as he likes,' he added.
In May last year, Retno, who was also an education activist with the Federation for Indonesian Teachers Associations ( FSGI ), was demoted to the position of a teacher at a different school after she left SMA 3 for around an hour during a national examination to attend an interview at a private TV station.
She has defended her actions, saying she attended the interview to talk about leaked exam sheets.
The Thursday verdict noted that Retno was wrong to leave the school during a national exam.
'Attending an interview to express her opinion is her right, which is protected by the law. Her rights are, however, limited by her obligation to show up at school. She should have prioritized her obligations over her rights,' presiding judge Tri Cahya Indra Permana said when reading the verdict at the court in East Jakarta.
However, the verdict stated that punishing Retno by removing her from her post was also wrong because her mistake was considered minor and therefore she should have faced a lighter penalty.
'The mistake she made was a light one. The examination, after all, continued until the end though without her presence,' the verdict noted. 'She should have been punished with a lighter sentence.'
The court added that punishing Retno with a sentence considered weightier than her mistake would cause fear among other employees.
Retno said after the trial that she was happy with the verdict, adding that challenging the agency's decision by continuing to work as a principal was not her goal.
'My goal is to show that the punishment is not comparable with my small mistake. The agency's head should have given me notice first before removing me from my post,' she said.
Previously on Wednesday, Momon Muliana, another lawyer from the administration, also said they would appeal at a higher court.
'[Being a] principal is not a person's right but rather an additional responsibility that can be removed. An analogy, for example, is if I lent you my phone and then saw you were not looking after it, could I take it back? Of course I could if you might damage it. The same thing applies to a post. If I assign you to a post but you show no integrity, can I remove you?' he said after the trial. ( saf )