Home >

Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - January 6, 2012

If you are not already subscribing to this news service, you can do so by sending a blank e-mail to <apsnnewsupdates-subscribe@yahoogroups.com> and you will be automatically added to the list.

For the latest news and information on East Timor, Indonesia and West Papua visit: http://www.asia-pacific-solidarity.net

Kontras Aceh urges revision of sharia bylaws

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2012

Nani Afrida, Jakarta – The Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) Aceh said on Thursday that it was very important for the government to review some sections of four sharia bylaws (Qanun) as they led to abuses of authority.

"We are seeking a review of the Qanun because they lead to double standards and abuses of human rights," KontraS Aceh Coordinator Destika Gilang Lestari told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The bylaws in question are Qanun No. 11/2003 on Islamic dress and Islamic code of conduct; No. 12/2003 on liquor, No. 13/2003 on gambling and No. 14/2003 on intimacy or indecency between unmarried couples. Breaches of these bylaws are punishable by caning.

KontraS Aceh noted that during 2011 there were 46 human rights violations related to sharia implementation.

The violations were inflicted on suspects by angry mobs taking the law into their own hands. At least nine cases happened in North Aceh, six in Lhokseumawe and Bireun, and five in Great Aceh.

"The number of such violent incidents in 2011 was slightly lower compared to the 55 cases in 2010. However, it is still serious because people's human rights are being violated," Gilang said.

According to the commission, violations carried out by ordinary citizens against suspected infringers of sharia law, included forced hair cutting, bathing in ponds and beatings.

"They usually beat and harass the suspects before handing them over to the sharia police for further investigation," she said, adding that KontraS found evidence of 26 cases of forcible bathing and 15 beatings.

Gilang said the involvement of ordinary citizens in committing abuses and harassments had a spurious legality in Aceh particularly because of the punishments stipulated in the bylaws. For example, Bylaw No. 14 on intimacy mentions that local people should be involved in sharia law enforcement. "The government must review and limit these bylaws," she said.

KontraS Aceh also reported that during 2011 there were five canings held in Aceh. Two occurred in Great Aceh and Langsa respectively, with one in Aceh Tamiang. By comparison there were only two canings carried out in 2010.

Gilang said that KontraS Aceh had detected discrimination in the implementation of canings in Aceh. She cited as an example a couple who were found to be having an affair, the man was freed as he was a soldier, but his girlfriend was caned in front of the public.

Three shot in latest shooting spree in Aceh

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2012

Three construction workers were shot by an unidentified man in the latest shooting spree in Simpang Aneuk Galong, Aceh Besar regency, Aceh, on Thursday evening.

The three victims, Gunoko, 30, Agus Swetnyo, 35, and Sotiku Anas, 25, were being treated in the Zainoel Abidin public hospital's intensive care unit in Banda Aceh.

Gunoko, who was shot in the eye, is reportedly struggling for his life, while the two others were said to be in critical but stable condition. "Currently, the victims are on life support machines," hospital deputy director dr. Andalas, SpOG, said as quoted by serambinews.com

Previously, four people were killed in shootings at two different places in Aceh on New Year's Eve.

On Dec. 29, two people were arrested for allegedly being involved in a shooting in North Aceh district, on Dec.4, 2011. Three people were killed in the incident. (swd)

Indonesian rights activists challenge to intelligence law

Jakarta Globe - January 6, 2012

Ezra Sihite & Keyko Ranti Ramadhani – Human rights groups and press freedom advocates filed a motion at the Constitutional Court on Thursday to challenge the controversial new Intelligence Law.

"The law not only threatens citizens' rights for information and freedom of the press but also has the potential for abuses of power and other human rights violations," Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) chairman Eko Maryadi said on Thursday.

Eko said that the law is filled with articles open to multiple interpretation, including the loose definition of secretive intelligence in article 1, which he said violates and overrides the Law on Public Freedom of Information, passed three years before the Intelligence Law.

The article defines "intelligence secrets" as "information that could jeopardize national security" but provides no further explanation as to what it is. "This is a dangerous article for journalists, because it criminalizes the spreading of public interest information," he said.

Eko added that the media has the obligation to monitor, supervise and criticize the government, but that role will soon be a criminal offense, since the government has the power to label sensitive information as intelligence secrets.

The AJI is petitioning the Constitutional Court to review the law alongside human rights monitor Imparsial, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) and the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).

The groups argue that the law violates people's constitutional rights to obtain information and seek the annulment of 13 articles in the law, which they say should be clearly defined.

The law also states that anyone found to have leaked classified information related to national defense, the country's natural resources, economics or international politics and relations before the 20-year period of confidentiality expires could face criminal charges.

Human rights groups criticized the law when it was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives in October last year.

The law, rights groups said, would give more power to the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and intelligence units inside the police, military and prosecutors' offices, but would do nothing to ensure that intelligence officers had to respect the law and human rights, be apolitical, refrain from engaging in private businesses or work impartially and indiscriminately.

Under the law, people who access and steal sensitive data can face up to seven years in jail or a Rp 300 million ($33,000) fine.

The intelligence agencies can also monitor phone conversations and the flow of funds of anyone deemed a threat to national security or possibly engaged in terrorism, separatism, espionage or sabotage.

Under the law, the BIN and other agencies also have power over foreigners or foreign institutions planning to take Indonesian citizenship, or visit, work, study or open an office in the country.

Indonesian government critic faces jail term for joke about royal family

Jakarta Globe - January 6, 2012

Sleman, Yogyakarta – Outspoken Indonesian government critic George Junus Aditjondro is facing up to four years in jail for allegedly insulting the Yogyakarta royal family.

Snr. Comr. Kris Erlangga, head of criminal investigations at Yogyakarta Police, said on Thursday that George – an outspoken critic of former dictator Suharto and incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – had "found strong evidence that he had committed libel."

The charges relate to an attempt by George to make a pun about the Yogyakarta Palace, comparing it to a "watched monkey."

"The Yogyakarta Keraton [Palace] should not be equated with the UK kingdom," he said. "The Yogyakarta Keraton is only a keraton, or kera ditonton [Watched Monkey]," George said during a political discussion at Gadjah Mada University on Nov. 30.

Following the comments, dozens of people, accusing George of humiliating the royal Yogyakarta family and the people of the special province, raided his home in an attempt to expel him from the city.

Kris said George had been charged under Article 156 of the Dutch colonial-era Criminal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment.

The article states that "a person who publicly gives expression to feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt against one or more groups of the population of Indonesia, shall be punished by a maximum of four years imprisonment or a maximum fine of Rp 300 ($0.033)."

The article defines the group as "part of the population of Indonesia that distinguishes itself from one or more other parts of the population by race, country of origin, religion, origin, descent, nationality or constitutional condition."

It is not immediately clear how this relates to the ruling royal family headed by Sri Sultan Hamengkubowono X, a Golkar politician who is automatically appointed governor of the special province.

George has not been taken into custody but is banned from leaving the country.

Police probing two shooting deaths in Papua

Antara News - January 5, 2012

Jayapura – Papua Police are investigating a shooting incident that happened on Wednesday in Ilaga, Puncak district, and left two civilians dead.

The Papua Provincial Police Headquarters spokesman, Sr. Comm. Wachyono, said on Thursday that the incident occurred at around 3:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday at Kaligime.

"The two civilians who died in the incident were Karel Mayau and Tiperius Murib. The police are now still chasing the gunmen believed to be members of an armed civilian group," he said.

Regarding the motive behind the shooting, Wachyono said he would not speculate as the investigation was still underway but it was believed to be the work of an armed civilian group. "We are still investigating the case. The police are still chasing the gunmen," he said.

On the situation in Ilaga, Wachyono said it had remained calm, and there was no need for further security forces in the area. "Until now, the situation in Puncak district has remained conducive and no security force reinforcements have been sent to the region," he said.

New Jakarta newspaper Bacaan Rakyat informs the poor

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2012

Anita Rachman – Siti Jamilah, a scavenger who lives in Jakarta, doesn't think the mainstream media pays enough attention to poverty issues and poor people like her. "Not even television," the 53-year-old told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.

That's why, Siti said, she reads Bacaan Rakyat. "I get more information about government policies on education and health for the poor from Bacaan Rakyat," Siti said.

Bacaan Rakyat, which roughly translates to People's Digest, is a bulletin published by the Indonesian Poor Union (SRMI) for its members – the poor in the capital and other cities in the country. Siti has been an active member of SRMI for seven years.

The black-and-white publication usually has 28 pages that include six stories and one or two opinion pieces.

Its pages have included articles about the public health insurance scheme Jamkesmas, the government cash hand-out program BLT, the Social Security Law (BPJS), debates on how the government defines poverty and reportage on the SRMI congress.

"From Bacaan Rakyat I found out that I can get a letter certifying my low-income status to receive free medical care," said Syahroni Usman, a 43-year-old ojek driver from Kampung Basmol, West Jakarta.

Syahroni said Bacaan Rakyat provided him with more detailed information on policies affecting the poor than from mainstream media outlets.

Bacaan Rakyat, first published in 2004, was originally intended to be a monthly publication. But SRMI has only been able to release the paper a few times a year. Last year, it only came out twice.

"It is because we don't have enough of a budget," said Dika Mohammad, Bacaan Rakyat's editor-in-chief. "We are not supported by any donors or the government. But starting this year, we are going to publish the bulletin every month."

Dika said SRMI planned to print 1,500 to 2,500 copies per edition to be distributed to members who work in various professions, such as ojek drivers, laundry workers, scavengers, bajaj drivers, factory laborers and food vendors in traditional markets.

"It will cost us Rp 3 million to Rp 4 million [$330 to $440] [to publish each issue]," he said. "We usually ask our readers a contribution of only Rp 1,500. It's not that we want to go commercial, but we also want to teach them that they also can contribute."

Active SRMI members like Siti, Dika said, help to spread the issues of the paper around Jakarta. Usually, Siti distributes approximately 70 copies in her area in Kebun Jeruk, where many scavengers live.

In addition to publishing more regularly, Dika said, SRMI also wants Bacaan Rakyat to improve in the journalism it produces.

For two days in December, about 15 SRMI officers and contributors from Jakarta, Medan, and Lampung gathered in the capital for a journalism training workshop held by the Jakarta branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI Jakarta).

Dika said that although Bacaan Rakyat's reporters might not always write like professional journalists, he hoped writers and contributors could still create articles with good word choices and better flow so that readers could understand the information that could benefit them.

Wahyu Dhyatmika, AJI Jakarta chairman and one of the trainers, said the bulletin needed to be improved, especially in terms of how the team gathered facts and data. Also, he said, the writers tended to let their own opinions sneak into their articles.

"We think they should separate news and opinion," Wahyu said. "They should also make sure to have correct supporting data. And in the future, they should also meet more sources to balance the stories. "I'm not saying their pieces are provoking in a bad way. It's just that they write stories based on their perspectives, and that could trigger readers' anger."

Despite these shortcomings, Wahyu said such media served an important role, filling the void left by mainstream media on coverage of issues important to the impoverished. Wahyu said AJI Jakarta was committed to helping SRMI publish the bulletin.

Yosi Kristanto, one of Bacaan Rakyat's editors, said that besides informing the poor about policies affecting them, the bulletin was meant to foster reading habits. Not all members, especially homeless people living in huts near railroads or under bridges, had access to newspapers or television, he said. Thus, Bacaan Rakyat was intended to serve those who have no other medium for reading.

"Children can read to their parents or neighbors, because many of our members are illiterate," Yosi said. In the future, Dika said, his team hoped to distribute the bulletin to officials so that policymakers could better understand issues facing the poor.

FPI head faces jail for Ramadan cafe attacks

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2012

Rahmat, Makassar – Prosecutors are seeking a 10-month jail term for the leader of a hard-line Islamic group that smashed up restaurants in the South Sulawesi capital during the fasting month.

Abdul Rahman, the head of the provincial branch of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), is on trial for damaging restaurants on Jalan A.P. Pettaranti last August and assaulting the owner of one of the eateries.

Three restaurants were trashed by the self-styled moral crusaders, who were outraged that they were open and serving food in the middle of the day during Ramadan, when most Muslims were fasting.

Prosecutors on Wednesday also demanded eight-month sentences for two other defendants, Riswandi Abubakar and Ariffudion, both FPI members. The trial at the Makassar District Court is scheduled to resume next week.

The three have been charged under Articles 170 and 351 of the Criminal Code for destruction of private property and assault. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of five years.

"The defendants are accused of abusing and assaulting the owner of Warung Coto and another restaurant on Jalan A.P. Pettarani, Makassar, in August," the indictment reads.

Abdul has also been named a suspect in an attack on the Ahmadiyah sect that same month. Members of the LPI, a unit of the FPI, smashed windows at the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) complex, including at a mosque, and damaged a car and a motorcycle.

The mob, estimated at 30 to 50 people, also attacked Ahmad, the lone guard at the complex, and two paralegals from the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) who attempted to stop the attack.

None of the three suffered serious injuries. LPI members also scuffled with riot police sent to restore order.

Police say Abdul did not take part in the attack on the Ahmadiyah complex but incited it, for which he could face up to six years in prison.

The attack was part of a rampage that started on a Saturday night and lasted until the next morning. It included shutting down restaurants operating during the fasting month.

'1,000 bananas for Kuatno' movement organized in Purwokerto

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2012

Jakarta – Banyumas Muhammadiyah student activists initiated on Friday a movement to collect 1,000 bananas for Kuatno, a man charged with stealing bananas in Cilacap, Central Java.

The activists established a post in front of the SMA Muhammadiyah high school in Purwokerto, Central Java, to attract local residents.

"We are hoping that residents who are aware of this banana case will be willing to donate bananas to us at this post," movement coordinator Irfan Fatkhurohman said as quoted by tribunnews.com. Irfan added that the activists would send the collected bananas to Cilacap Police and National Police stations.

This latest protest movement comes hot on the heels of a similar collection for sandals after a 15-year-old boy, identified as A.A.L., recently faced up to five years' imprisonment for allegedly stealing a pair of flip-flops belonging to a police officer.

Kuatno and his friend, Topan, have been detained since Nov. 11, 2011, after being caught red-handed stealing the bananas in Kalisabuk. They admitted stealing nine bunches of bananas but police said they found 15 bunches at the crime scene.

The two men have undergone a psychological examination at the Cilacap Prosecutor's Office in Central Java after Kuatno was said to be mentally retarded. The results of the examination have not yet been released. (swd)

Central Sulawesi police chief accused of lying

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2012

Ruslan Sangadji, Palu, Sulawesi Tengah – A member of the Central Sulawesi Commission for Children's Protection, Sofyan Farid Lembah, has accused Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Dewa Parsana of lying about an officer who allegedly beat a 15-year-old student.

The student, identified only as A.A.L., was at the time under police custody allegedly due to stealing a pair of sandals belonging to a police officer.

"The [Central Sulawesi] Police chief has lied. I have a copy of [A.A.L.'s] results from the hospital. A.A.L was severely injured because he was assaulted by a police officer," said Sofyan.

Separately, Dewa dismissed that allegation, saying his officer only "pushed" A.A.L. and that it was the boy's parents who wanted to bring the case to court. "It is their [A.A.L.'s parents'] own request to forward the case to court," said Dewa told a press conference on Friday.

But A.A.L.'s father, Ebert Nicholas Lagaronda, said that no one from his family had ever wanted to bring the case to court. He said it all began when he filed a criminal report with the police stating that a police officer had beaten up A.A.L.

"The police officer [who assaulted A.A.L.] threatened to bring the stealing case to court because I filed a report about the assault with the police. So, I told him: 'Please, do so. But that doesn't mean it is I who ask you to do that'," Ebert said.

Sofyan urged the National Police chief to dismiss Dewa from his post.

Justice for all

Jakarta Post Editorial - January 6, 2012

The trial and conviction of a teenager who stole a pair of flip-flops in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu on Wednesday has sent out the wrong message about law enforcement in the country.

It is true that the police, prosecutors and the judge conducted their jobs in accordance with the judicial mechanism in place to uphold the law in the case of the 15-year-old boy, identified as AAL, who was found guilty of stealing a police officer's flip-flops.

The judge decided to send AAL back to his parents despite the verdict, but this sentence did little to repair the public's growing distrust in the judicial system, which was partly seen in the movement to collect 1,000 rubber sandals as a protest against the trial.

Considering the many high-profile cases which have been moving to nowhere only because they implicate prominent – and powerful – figures, the trial of AAL constitutes a mockery of justice. Instead of substantiating the country's adherence to equality before the law, the legal process the boy endured is a further display of discrimination that allows those with power and money to escape justice.

Not to mention physical abuses the minor suffered during his interrogation. The National Police ordered a 21-day detention of two police officers for beating AAL, but the sentence serves only as a reminder that the culture of violence remains intact within the police force.

That the public demonstrated distaste with the legal process against AAL should not be understood as their defense of a crime, however petty. There were countless precedents in which the sword of justice was sharp when dealing with the powerless like the teenager, but suddenly blunt when confronting the powerful.

A poor old woman was brought to court in the Central Java town of Banyumas in 2009 for allegedly stealing cocoa fruits which cost no less than Rp 10,000 (US$11.00). The panel of judges convicted her and handed down a suspended jail term.

In the same year, a woman was sentenced to 24 days' imprisonment for stealing 2 kilograms of cotton valued at Rp 20,000 in Batang, also in Central Java.

It comes as no surprise that the public used to react angrily to strict enforcement of the law against ordinary people who could not hire top lawyers but followed the whole course of the trial. The public has oftentimes witnessed corrupt state officials receive relatively light sentences compared to the state funds they stole, an serve only a small part of their jail terms due to generous remissions for their "good behavior".

There is even a politician who was convicted of graft three times, but instead of serving long, accumulated jail terms he was quickly back to breathing the air of freedom thanks to multiple remissions.

Doubts over indiscriminate enforcement of the law will persist unless the National Police or other law enforcement agencies dare to launch a formal investigation into suspicious large bank accounts belonging to a number of police generals, public figures named in corruption cases centering on former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin or individuals and institutions that received money from the rescued Bank Century.

There are many high-profile cases that have remained untouched and we are worried they may be settled through political deals due to their potential to disrupt stability.

The flip-flop case reminds us all that we still have a long way to go before achieving equality before the law. We can find those words in our 66-year-old Constitution, but sadly not yet in reality.

Student named suspect for French kissing girlfriend

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2012

Jakarta – The Tangerang Police have declared RD, 16, a suspect for allegedly sexually abusing a minor, and charged him with violating the child protection law.

"We have named him a suspect," Tangerang Chief Detective Comr. Shinto Silitonga said on Friday as quoted by tempo.co.

RD allegedly spread a six-minute video of him kissing his girlfriend, NA, 16, a student of Rajeg Senior high school in Tangerang via cell phone. The kissing scene showed the young couple, wearing their school uniforms, kissing in an apparently empty class room.

Shinto said he had questioned RD's and NA's friends and family. "All of the testimonies pointed to one person, RD," Shinto said.

Shinto added that the investigation had been launched after the parents of NA filed a report against RD to the police after the video began spreading. "The victim's family felt ashamed and felt that their child had fallen victim to sexual abuse," Shinto said.

Legislators urged to pull plug on Rp 2 billion toilet upgrade

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2012

Ezra Sihite – Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR) has been urged to pull the plug on a scheme to renovate toilets in the Nusantara 1 building, which houses the offices of the political factions.

Hajrianto Tohari, deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), rejected the idea to spend Rp 2 billion ($218,000) on renovating 220 toilet cubicles.

"Even the toilet is clogged, it is alright," the Golkar legislator said. "The public don't agree with the House plan to build anything, so we should just follow what they say."

Legislators have complained that the toilets are in a poor condition and stink. The House also recently announced plans to spend Rp 3 billion to upgrade a motorcycle parking area.

Last year, the House canceled plans to build a new office building costing Rp 1.3 trillion after a public outcry and allegations of shady dealings.

Powerful Indonesian politician is latest Nazaruddin corruption target

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2012

Rizky Amelia & Anita Rachman – High profile graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin on Wednesday continued to sow controversy, this time saying the "big boss" referenced in an incriminating text message was the chairman of the House of Representatives' Budget Committee.

Nazaruddin made the accusation before attending the graft trial of his former employee, Mindo Rosalina Manulang, in a bribery case involving the construction of an athletes' village for November's Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, South Sumatra.

"Yes, it is true," Nazaruddin said when asked whether "big boss" referred to House Budget Committee chairman Melchias Markus Mekeng. However, he declined to give more details, saying Rosalina and the sender of the BlackBerry message, lawmaker and Budget Committee member Angelina Sondakh, would know more.

The message sent by Angelina said that "the big boss wants apples from Malang," with "apples from Malang" believed to be code for payments.

Melchias was quick to deny the charge, saying there was no flow of money from Nazaruddin to the committee or its members. The Golkar Party lawmaker added that he had only chaired the committee since July 2010 and had nothing to do with the budgeting of funds for the athletes' village. Melchias replaced Harry Azhar Azis, also from Golkar, as Budget Committee chairman.

Golkar's secretary general, Idrus Marham, said his party had no plans to protect or cover up for any of its members involved in corruption cases, but added that any corruption allegations should include ample proof.

"What are the data, the facts? A mere statement is not enough," he said. "It is data and facts that are needed." He quoted party chairman Aburizal Bakrie as having said that "there should be no politicization of the legal process. Everything should be based on legal facts."

Meanwhile, Rosalina shed tears when she saw her former employer at her trial. She had last seen Nazaruddin nine months earlier, she said. "I only saw him again today and he appeared very thin. That made me sad," Rosalina said.

Rosalina was a former manager of Nazaruddin's company, Anak Negeri. She is alleged to have been the liaison between graft convict and former secretary of the Youth and Sports Affairs Ministry, Wafid Muharram, and Mohammad El Idris, the marketing manager of Duta Graha Indah, a building contractor.

Later on Wednesday, Nazaruddin appeared at his own trial at the Anti-Corruption Court, but proceedings were postponed after he suddenly vomited in court.

"Because of the health condition of the defendant, the trial is postponed until [next] Wednesday," said Darmawati Ningsih, who heads the panel of judges hearing the case.

The decision was taken after the trial was suspecnded while advice was sought from the doctor assigned by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to treat Nazaruddin. The physician said the defendant was lacking sleep, had a gastric ulcer problem and needed two or three days of rest.

Wednesday's trial had been scheduled to hear testimony from Rosalina, Idris and Duta Graha Indah's executive director, Dudung Purwadi.

Nazaruddin stands accused of rigging a government tender for the construction of the Palembang athletes' village in return for at least Rp 4.3 billion ($473,000) in kickbacks. Among the alleged bribers was Duta Graha Indah, which was awarded the construction project contract.

Idris is said to have given Nazaruddin checks of Rp 1.27 billion and Rp 1.70 billion.

Nazaruddin, a former treasurer of the Democratic Party, has used the corruption investigation and his ongoing trial to level accusations at a number of fellow party members.

Politicians barred from becoming election organizer

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2012

Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta – To ensure fairness and impartiality among members of the election-organizing bodies, the Constitutional Court (MK) on Wednesday ruled that politicians can only apply for membership five years after their resignation from a political party.

The court's ruling came in answer to demands by a coalition of NGOs, which noticed some articles in the Election Organization Law were flawed.

One article in the law, which was enacted in November, says former politicians need to resign from a political party before applying for membership in the General Elections Commission (KPU) or General Elections Monitoring Body (Bawaslu).

"The articles were against the 1945 Constitution because they could jeopardize the impartiality of the KPU and Bawaslu," judge Akil Mochtar said.

Critics previously said that, without the requirement to resign five years before applying for KPU or Bawaslu, it was likely that politicians would use their ties with their former political parties to serve the parties' interests in the poll bodies.

The petitioners, which comprised 23 NGOs nationwide, also challenged an article which stipulated that members of the Election Organization Disciplinary Council include a government representative and a politician from each political party that had a seat in the House of Representatives.

The court also approved this petition with the argument that memberships of the government and political party could compromise the professionalism and impartiality of the election organization.

Hadar Nafiz Gumay, executive director of the Center of Electoral Reform (Cetro), one of the 23 NGOs, welcomed the ruling, saying the judges "have been very professional in upholding the Constitution and promoting democracy".

"The ruling has also confirmed our allegation that the lawmakers had insisted on keeping the 'problematic articles' only to satisfy their political desire instead of making a fair election mechanism," Hadar added.

The stipulation that a former political party member could not be a member of the KPU if he or she had resigned from their party less then five years before filing their application, was actually included in the old 2007 Election Organization Law.

Lawmakers, however, agreed to drop the clause under the argument that no one could guarantee that somebody who had retired from a political party five years before would no longer be affiliated with certain political groups.

Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN)
Email: jamesbalowski@yahoo.com
Web: http://www.asia-pacific-solidarity.net