The Jakarta Post
The House of Representatives passed a revision of the Constitutional Court Law on Tuesday amid criticism from activists and experts over a potential conflict of interest that is feared will undermine the court’s impartiality.
All political party factions at the House agreed during a plenary session to pass the bill, initially proposed by the Gerindra Party, into law.
“Do you agree to pass the revision to Law No. 24/2003 on the Constitutional Court into law?" House deputy speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad of the Gerindra Party said.
The lawmakers responded with agreement without any objections.
The new revised law raises the minimum age for justices from 47 to 55 and increases the maximum term to 15 years from five years previously. It also allows justices to hold their position until the age of 70 years, 10 years longer than the previous regulation.
The Center for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies (PSHK) criticized the revision, arguing it would only benefit current constitutional justices.
PSHK researcher Agil Oktaryal alleged the revision was “a gift” to the current judges.
"This is a gift for them and it could result in a conflict of interest because the House and the government did [the revision] it for them," Agil said on Tuesday.
He added that the 15-year term was too long, especially in Indonesia where public trust in judicial institutions was low.
Agil noted that the extension of the term in office would present problems if there was not a proper monitoring system for the judges, citing concerns over corruption.
“This will be dangerous. The extended term has not been followed by a better design for supervision of the Constitutional Court. The longer [someone holds] power, the greater the possibility of corruption,” he added.
Besides the PSHK, other civil groups have voiced suspicion the revision was a "political swap", as many controversial pieces of legislation were currently being challenged at the court, such as the State Spending and Financial Relief Law, the Mining Law, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law and the omnibus bill on job creation.