Heru Andriyanto & Nur Yasmin, Jakarta – The Presidential Staff Office announced on Monday the government has decided to reinstate Romi Syofpa Ismail, a wheelchair-bound dentist in South Solok, West Sumatra, as a civil servant candidate after the district government disqualified her for "not meeting the requirements" despite Romi passing the civil service exam with the highest score.
Romi's case has put Indonesia's disability policy in the spotlight by revealing that regional administrators often still discriminate against disabled people, even though the 2016 Law on People with Disabilities has already outlawed the practice.
"We've looked into the case and agreed that doctor Romi should remain as a civil servant candidate," Presidential Staff Office deputy Jaleswari Pramodhawardhani said in a press release on Monday.
Like all civil servants, Romi will spend a year on probation before becoming eligible to be appointed.
Jaleswari said the Presidential Staff Office held a meeting to look into the case that was attended by West Sumatra deputy governor Nasrul Abit, South Solok district head Muzni Zakaria and representatives from the Social Affairs Ministry, Health Ministry, Women Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry and State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry.
According to Jaleswari, the South Solok administration misinterpreted the rule that requires civil servant candidates to be "physically and mentally healthy."
The case should serve as a lesson for other regional governments to remind them that disabled people have the same rights as able-bodied people to find jobs in the civil service.
"Regional governments and state-owned companies are obliged to employ people with disabilities. At least two percent of their staff must be made up of disabled people," Jaleswari said.
To prevent a repeat of the Romi case, the State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry will provide a more detailed definition of what it means to be "physically and mentally healthy" in a revision of the government regulation on public servant selection.
South Solok district head Muzni Zakaria said he will now make sure that one out of three positions in his regional government will be filled by people with disabilities. "We will find a position for Romi in the provincial general hospital," he said.
Muzni had issued a letter in March stating that Romi had failed to meet the basic requirements of the 2018 civil service exam despite passing it with the highest score.
Romi has been using a wheelchair since 2016 when she lost the use of her legs after giving birth to her second child. Other than that, there is no problem with her health. She had been working on a contract basis in South Solok's public health unit since 2015.
She reported her case to the Legal Aid Institute in Padang, West Sumatra, and decided to sue the district government. She also received support from the Indonesian Solidarity Party, which considers her disqualification as discriminatory, and from the women's wing of the Golkar Party.