Tuesday, 12 November 2019

MPR Speaker: President Remains as the People's Mandatary

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Together with nine MPR deputy speakers, he visited national political figures including Megawati Sukarnoputri, Jusuf Kalla, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; inviting them to the inauguration of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin at the MPR-DPR building, set for this Sunday, October 20. During those visits, Bambang and friends asked for inputs from the former presidents and vice presidents about the planned amendment to the 1945 Constitution.

    Over the last two months, the discourse to have the fifth amendment has been the talk of the nation. There are different points suggested to change. Some mentioned the need for Indonesia to return to the initial version of the 1945 Constitution, others asked for a rearrangement of the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN), and then there were also suggestions of extending the presidential term. Bambang, elected as MPR Speaker on October 4, said that he welcomes all suggestions for the Assembly to deliberate on. “We are aware that the implications are extraordinary. If it’s wrong, there won’t be a judicial review,” Bambang said in a special interview with Tempo.

    Bambang (57) chose Megawati as the first person to refer to, because the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson was the last president who sat in office during the fourth amendment in 2002. Also, it was the PDI-P that first suggested amending the constitution – according to the results of the party’s congress as in August this year.

    Before visiting Prabowo Subianto on October 11, Bambang met with Tempo reporters Stefanus Pramono, Reza Maulana, Aisha Shaidra, and Dewi Nurita at his office in the MPR-DPR complex. He told Tempo that the constitution’s amendment would not become a ‘wild ball’, and be used to eliminate direct presidential elections. “That’s why we use a very verbal term: limited amendments,” said the former House of Representatives (DPR) speaker.

    What’s the urgency to have a fifth amendment to the 1945 Constitution?

    I am only the person who inherited a recommendation from the previous period of the (2014-2019) MPR. This has been the homework of the 2009-2014 MPR, which was then passed on to 2014-2019, and then to us. We have to follow up.

    How is the MPR following it up?

    We do not want to rush things. We must be careful. We are being transparent to the public, accepting input from various community groups, retired army officers – everyone. Later, we will also invite student representatives to find out what their wishes for Indonesia are. They are the owners of this nation in the next 20 or 30 years. Many voices are growing, so we must summarize the voices of the people of Indonesia. What is the form? That is what we are working on.

    How?

    We will open rooms for public discussion as wide as possible to accommodate people’s aspirations. We are well aware of the extraordinary implications. We cannot make mistakes as the constitution cannot undergo judicial reviews like laws do. So we are being very careful. We want the results of this amendment to have zero complaints.

    When is the target for completing the amendment discussion?

    There is no target. We’re not a bus that has to meet certain fare targets (laughs). Maybe it won’t be finished in the next year or two. During these early stages, we will receive inputs in order to follow up on recommendations.

    What are the recommendations you have received?

    There are two recommendation options related to the need to bring back the GBHN; some via the MPR through amendments, some by means of a law. We put everything on the table. We will offer them to the people and see what the tone is like. That is what we will do, since this is the people’s decision.

    Was your visit to Megawati Soekarnoputri an effort to obtain input as well?

    Yes. Ibu Mega had run the last constitutional amendment, issued in 2002, during the last two years of her term in office. She was also the last president who became the mandatory of the MPR. We asked her to give us insights about what is still lacking in the current constitution.

    What did she recommend?

    From this meeting, I could see that Ibu Mega was quite anxious about our country’s development direction. The emphasis is on the economy. She was very restless and said something along the lines of, “Why is that, from the president to the regent and mayor, every time someone new is elected, there has to be a new policy? Because of ego, so the good policies of their predecessors are no longer used or discontinued. The fact is, almost all countries have a development direction that lasts even up to the next hundred years. Thus, even though the leaders change, the direction of development remains the same.”

    She mentioned China as an example, about how it has mock-ups of large cities for several decades into the future, also Singapore, which has a direction of development for the next hundred years.

    In practice, China and Singapore’s parliaments are controlled by a single party, in contrast to Indonesia with its multi-party parliament.

    That is why we need the expertise of all parties to summarize all voices and turn them into one direction.

    Can the MPR do that?

    Yesterday, during the election of the MPR speaker, we were able to achieve a consensus from the deliberation of 10 parties. The important thing is to convey the purpose clearly. In the end, it is about giving the maximum benefit for the people’s interest. No one can refuse the interests of the people. For example, Pak Jokowi focuses on infrastructure development. But his successor could say infrastructure is not important, and then neglect it. And so, we must have blueprints and roadmaps for our development in the next 50 years. Ibu Mega praised Ibu Risma (Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini). “If her successor cannot continue her programs, or focus on other programs – what she has done, everything will go back to zero again.”

    Would that be stipulated in the GBHN?

    The name does not have to be GBHN. It can be called a development blueprint or whatever.

    So the president would have to adhere to the MPR’s decisions?

    Not just the president. The governors, regents and mayors would also have to follow the direction of development. The direction there is the wishes of the Indonesian people brought by the MPR.

    Read the full interview in Tempo English Magazine