Review of “State Institutions” by Justice Saldi Isra

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Saturday, April 3, 2021 | 12:36 WIB

Constitutional Justice Saldi Isra speaking at a webinar organized by the Law Faculty of Krisnadwipayana University to review his book State Institutions, Saturday (3/4/2021). Photo by Humas MK/Bayu.

JAKARTA, Public Relations—Constitutional Justice Saldi Isra delivered a keynote speech at a webinar organized to review his book State Institutions by the Law Faculty of Krisnadwipayana University on Saturday afternoon, April 3, 2021.

“State institutions are important in the abstract concept of the state. A state becomes concrete only when it is operated by key instruments built in its constitution and driven by the state apparatuses known as state institutions,” he said.

When defining constitutional law, reviewers and writers from the country or abroad always associate it with state institutions. "The constitutional law is actually law that regulates how state institutions or organs operate the state functions," he added. 

Therefore, he said, learning how the state is operated by state organs is fundamental but first, one must read the constitution. The constitution reflects the state’s system, whether a union or unitary state, as well as its government system, whether parliamentary, presidential, or a combination of the two.

The constitution also reflects the early design of the state institutions. The US Constitution, for example, clearly defines the holders of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Aside from the three, the US also has other state organs. The US differs from France, which combines the parliamentary and presidential systems of government.

Indonesian Constitution 

What about Indonesia? “Our Constitution also reflects the design of the state institutions,” Justice Saldi revealed. The republic has implemented several constitutions. The first was the 1945 Constitution designed by the founding fathers and implemented in the beginning of the independence. Then, it was replaced by the 1949 Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia, and then the Provisional Constitution of 1950 (UUDS 1950). The state then went back to the 1945 Constitution on July 5, 1959 and has continued to do so. The Constitution has been amended in 1999-2000 and this created state institutions different from those in the Constitution pre-amendment.

Justice Saldi then explained the state institutions after the amendment. First, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) is now no longer the highest state institution as there is no longer such hierarchy. The amendment also resulted in the establishment of several state institutions, straight off the minds of the constitution amenders.

“[Changes in the amendment] were reorganization or addition of authorities, or establishment of new state institutions. A state institution was even dissolved, as its authorities no longer exists in the amended the 1945 Constitution, that is the Supreme Advisory Council,” he said.

In addition, some proliferated. For example, the holder of the legislative power used to be the House of Representatives (DPR). Now, aside from the House, the MPR and the DPD (Regional Representatives Council) also hold that power.

Justice Saldi also observed the president’s more dominant power in the past. “The amenders of the Constitution debated about whether to limit the president’s power, which was dominating in the Old and New Order, or to strengthen the House,” he explained.

He also revealed that when the Supreme Court was overwhelmed with concrete cases, the amenders proposed the idea to form a Constitutional Court. The judicial powers in Indonesia were then held by not only the Supreme Court but also the Constitutional Court. The Judicial Commission was also proposed for overseeing the Supreme Court justices. “These debates encouraged new institutions in the 1945 Constitution,” he stressed.

Justice Saldi also expressed regret over the unpopularity of pre-amendment constitutional law among students. He observed that there hadn’t been many reviews of the matter. “There wasn’t much space for comprehensive and critical reviews of constitutional law at the time,” he said.

New Perspective on State Institutions 

In the book, Justice Saldi offered something different to set it apart from similar books. He said that they don’t usually view state organs from the perspective of Constitutional Court decisions. Therefore, his book could offer a new perspective on state institutions.

“From its preface, the book already focuses on the Constitutional Court decisions. For example, when I mention the definition of state institutions in terms of concept et cetera. Then I talk about the Constitutional Court’s definition of state institutions. Then a decision was passed; it categorizes state institutions into main and supporting ones,” he explained.

Through one of its decisions, the Court defined the Judicial Commission, one among the state institutions resulted from the amendment to the 1945 Constitution. Despite the debate over the Court’s decision, it offered a new perspective of state institutions.

Writer: Nano Tresna Arfana
Editor: Lulu Anjarsari P.

Translator: Yuniar Widiastuti
Editor: NL

Translation uploaded on 4/5/2021 16:09 WIB

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian version, the Indonesian version will prevail.