Chief Justice Anwar Usman with Secretary-General M. Guntur Hamzah, Acting Head of the Pancasila and Constitution Education Center Imam Margono, and Law Faculty Dean of Maranatha University Christian Andersen opening the constitution awareness program for the academic community of Maranatha Christian University, Tuesday (9/14/2021). Photo by Humas MK/Teguh.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 | 22:48 WIB
JAKARTA, Public Relations—The Constitutional Court (MK) collaborated with Maranatha Christian University to organize a constitution awareness program for the citizens (PPHKWN). The event was officially opened by Chief Justice Anwar Usman on Tuesday evening, September 14, 2021 from the Pancasila and Constitution Education Center, Cisarua, Bogor.
In his keynote speech, the chief justice explained the history of the Indonesian Constitution, which has undergone changes since the independence in 1945. He explained that the 1945 Constitution that the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Works for Independence (BPUPKI) and the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) after the proclamation of independence had been changed in 1949 for the Republic of the United States of Indonesia (RIS), which received backlash that led to the Provisional Constitution of 1950 (UUDS 1950).
Then, on December 15, 1955, an election took place to elect members of the Constitutional Assembly, who were expected to draft a new constitution to replace UUDS 1950. However, it did not happen because they could not come to an agreement. On July 5, 1959 President Soekarno issued a decree that dissolved the assembly, invalidated UUDS 1950, and marked the return to the 1945 Constitution.
After the decree, Justice Anwar said, the Constitution was seen as a sacred object that must be free from discussion, debate, let alone changes. However, it ended with the May 21, 1998 Reform. Demands to return democracy and to amend the Constitution emerged.
“Therefore, after the Reform era replaced the New Order after the 1999 Election, constitutional amendment began. The amendment was then realized in four stages since 1999 to 2002. It was seen as a necessity,” he said.
Constitutional Amendment and Establishment of Constitutional Court
Justice Anwar explained there were several reasons for amendment to the 1945 Constitution. It was not sufficiently capable of supporting a democratic state and upholding human rights, partly due to lack of limit on the president’s power, allowing a president to be re-elected indefinitely. Another reason is that the supremacy of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) was easily dominated by the party who won the election, incidentally also the ruling party, thus leading to the absence of checks and balances between branches of state power.
He then talked about the establishment of the Constitutional Court, which started when the draft of the 1945 Constitution was first discussed by the BPUPKI, where Muhammad Yamin talked about the importance of a constitutional review body. The idea was rejected because Indonesia had just gained independence so there were not many law graduates, because judges were tasked with implementing laws but not reviewing them, and because Indonesia did not follow trias politica but distribution of power.
During discussion of constitutional amendment in the Reform era, Justice Anwar said, the idea reemerged and received positive response. It was among the things the MPR decided in the constitutional amendment after some deep, careful, and democratic deliberation, the idea was realized through Article 24 paragraph (2) and Article 24C in the Third Amendment of the 1945 Constitution at the MPR annual session on November 9, 2001.
The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia was then established on August 13, 2003 with the authority to review laws against the Constitution, decide on authority disputes between state institutions, decide on disputes over general election results, and decide on the dissolution of political parties. It is also obligated to decide on the House’s opinion of alleged violation committed by the president and/or vice president.
When delivering his report at the event, Secretary-General M. Guntur Hamzah said the Court encouraged all elements of society including the academics to continue improving their understanding of the 1945 Constitution.
“In this context, the Court never fails to encourage universities, including Maranatha Christian University as friends of the Court. So, the Court often organizes activities in collaboration with Maranatha Christian University,” he said.
Guntur said the PPHKWN of Maranatha Christian University was the university’s and the Court’s joint effort to improve the constitutional awareness of the public and the university’s academic community.
Maranatha Christian University Dean Christian Andersen said in his remarks that the PPHKWN was important to making the people’s perception of citizens’ constitutional rights uniform.
“We as citizens are thankful to be able to get information on various matters from the Constitutional Court. Thankfully the Court has performed its duties to adjudicate and rule on regional head and presidential election disputes, even making MURI records,” he said.
The university’s first interaction with the Court, he revealed, happened several years ago, when the Law Faculty joined the all-Indonesia constitution debate competition organized by the Court.
The PPHKWN will be taking place on Tuesday-Friday, September 14-17, 2021. Andersen was appreciative of the event, which the students could join amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Translation uploaded on 9/24/2021 14:57 WIB
Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.