Beware of constitution amendments

The noise-buzz of the discussion about the 1945 amendment doesn’t sound tunable for Cornalis Natasya dan Diah Ayu. Both are resident of the Special Province Jakarta, also mentioned proposals to amend the 1945 Constitution, particularly a proposal to increase the presidential term limit and also the limited constitutional amendment to revive the now-defunct State Policy Guidelines (PPHN) at the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) were irrelevant to the current situation. She hopes that Senayan politicians should focus more on solving the problem of citizens’ resilience to face the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The handling of Covid-19 which is still failing, the human rights crisis, the environmental crisis. Not to mention the economic crisis. The government is still failing,” said Natasya when contacted by Jaring. id via WhatsApp, on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

Meanwhile, Diah Ayu admits she is doubtful of the reasons behind the increase in the presidential term limit to three. Previously, the MPR claimed that state guidelines were needed to ensure the continuity of state policies. “Two periods have not been shown to work, let alone three periods,” said Diah to Jaring. id, on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

The Proposal on reviving PPHN through the amendments to the 1945 Constitution was rolled out in the MPR from 2014-2019. The MPR lats term claimed that the president needs guidance, such as the New Order era State Policy Guidelines (GBHN) to continue the development. This proposal then went so far as to discuss the issue of increasing the presidential term limit into three terms.

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People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo has made assurances to the public that there is no proposal to increasing the term limit of the president. As cited from the People’s Consultative Assembly official websites; mpr., Bambang said that the Agency for the Assessment of the MPR was to focus on finishing the substance of the Principles of State Policy Guidelines (PPHN). He targets the country’s policy guidelines to be completed by the end of 2021.

“Contain philosophical matters, not a technocratic nature. So that it acts as a guide star giver for all state officials. Assembly needs to assert that there is not at all a proposal of periodization president, for periodization president twice as it exists today is ideal, “said Bamsoet after chairing a meeting of Chairman of the Constitutional Committee with Chairman Assessment Agency MPR in complex assemblies, Jakarta, on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

In addition to the constitution, Bambang mentioned the MPR Decree (TAP MPR) as an alternative legal basis that can be used to accommodate PPHN. Therefore, he said, it is not certain that PPHN will emerge through the amendments to the 1945 Constitution. “Whoever the president and vice president who runs in the election, must translate PPHN into its vision and mission. Including regents/mayors to governors. So that the direction of the nation-building of local and national level can go hand in hand, “said Bambang.

Taufik Besari, a lawmaker from the National Democratic Party has doubts about passed PPHN without the amendment to the 1945 Constitution. The reason is the last amendment prohibits the MPR from issuing a regulating MPR Decree. “There are some people who attempt to change the fundamental state ideology”, said Taufik Basari.

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Former members of the Assembly that the period 1999-2004 was also the team ad hoc constitutional amendments, Valina Singka Subekti express how the importance of strengthening the presidential system. The 1999-2002 amendments, according to her, aim to limit power. At first, the presidential term is limited, further changes to the constitutional structure in which the Assembly is no longer the highest state institution. With so all the institutions are at an equal level so that they can carry out the check and balance process

Through the amendment, the constitution eliminates the GBHN then creates for the democratically presidential election and recognizes the open general election. “We want a president with strong legitimacy. The president is directly elected by the people and is not easy to overthrow in the middle of the road,” said Valina when stating the virtual discussion activity Denpasar 12 with the theme Dissect the discourse Amendment of the 1945 Constitution, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

The professor of the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Indonesia thinks that Indonesia does not yet need to amend the constitution. According to him, the 4th amendment of the Constitution is still relevant for building a democratic political system. “Transition to democracy is always related to constitutional reform and democratization,” She said.

In this case, President Joko Widodo claims he is not interested in continuing his term of office. Jokowi insisted on holding the Constitution of 1945 as the reference state. Article 7 of the 1945 Constitution states that the president and vice president hold office for five years, after which they can be re-elected to the same office, only for one term. “I emphasize, I have no intention. The constitution mandates two terms. We must protect it together, “said Jokowi when giving his statement at the Presidential Palace, Central Jakarta, Monday, March 15, 2021.

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This was also emphasized by the General Chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) of Struggle, Megawati Soekarnoputri. According to her, the issue of amendments related to changes in the presidential term is unfounded and misleading. “The one talking is the real one. Who knows someday he could have three terms,” said Megawati when she launched a book entitled “Merawat Ibu Pertiwi, Jalan Megawati Soekarnoputri Melestarikan Alam” at the PDIP DPP, Jalan Diponegoro, Jakarta, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

Meanwhile, a Member of the Board of Trustees, the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Titi Anggraini doubted Jokowi President’s statement. According to him, the President’s public speech cannot serve as a benchmark for measuring political ambitions. Moreover, Jokowi has a poor track record when making statements. Titi reminded of the speech Jokowi when responding to the issue of weakening of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). At that time, the president emphasized that he would not weaken the KPK, but the revision was an entry point to weaken anti-graft institutions. “Impressed joke, but cannot be underestimated,” Titi said when contacted Jaring. id, Thursday, March 25, 2021.

Titi thinks that the proposal related to the three-term position just like an effort to strengthen the president’s hegemony and this will have a bad impact on the democratic condition in Indonesia. “Great nation but only a small group of individuals dependent. This does not give a sense of justice to others. This is not in line with the principles of democracy, “said Titi.

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Instead of discussing the amendments to the 1945 Constitution, Titi suggested that the government and the DPR focus on improving the quality of democracy by opening space for citizen participation to be involved in the presidential election contestation. One of the ways is by revising the electoral system, both towards the presidential threshold and the parliamentary threshold.

In line with Titi, Safina Maulida, the researcher of Asia Democracy Network (ADN) mentioned that politicians in Senayan only see the democratic system from the electoral side or vote and are elected. She said the content of democracy includes fulfilling accountability, paying attention to civil rights, marginalized groups, providing as wide a space as possible to express opinions, assembly, and determine the president’s choice. “So, it’s not just a matter of presidential and election elections. Our political system has lost justice, but we still want to try fairness,” said Safina when contacted by Jaring. id by telephone, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

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Binti Rosidah is one of more than 1.6 million Indonesians living and working in Malaysia. She has been working as a domestic worker in Kuala

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