DPR, North Bengkulu Regent Respond to Lebong Regency's Claims

House Commission III member Taufik Basari testifying at a judicial review hearing of the Law on the Formation of North Bengkulu, Tuesday (10/10/2023). Photo by MKRI/Ifa.

JAKARTA (MKRI) — The fifth material judicial review hearing of Law No. 28 of 1959 on the Stipulation of Emergency Laws No. 4 of 1956, No. 5 of 1956, and No. 6 of 1956 on the Formation of Level II Regions Including Township within Level I Region of South Sumatera into Law commenced in the Constitutional Court (MK) on Tuesday, October 10, 2023. The case No. 71/PUU-XXI/2023 was filed by Lebong regent Kopli Ansori and Lebong regency DPRD (Regional Legislative Council) chairman Carles Ronsen on behalf of the regional government of Lebong Regency, Bengkulu Province.

The hearing presented the testimony of the House of Representatives (DPR) as well as the North Bengkulu regent and the Bengkulu Agrarian Office/Land Agency (ATR/BPN) as Relevant Parties. It was presided over by Chief Justice Anwar Usman and the other eight constitutional justices. At the hearing, the House’s proxy, House Commission III member Taufik Basari, said the articles in Law No. 28 of 1959 was in line with the community’s wish to officially establish existing regencies into autonomous ones based on Law No. 22 of 1948.

“In addition, socio-economic factors and developing possibilities must be considered, as well as other factors affecting governance and ensuring the sustainability of those regencies to form, which not only needed the South Sumatera governor’s considerations but also the opinions of the communities in question through political parties, other community organizations, well-known community leaders, and people’s representatives in the regions in question,” he explained.

Territorial Borders

Taufik Basari then talked about the borders which the Petitioner question, i.e. Article 1 of the a quo Law. The provision, which is being challenged, clearly stipulates the level II region of North Bengkulu with territorial borders as set forth in the decree of the military governor of the special military region of South Sumatera dated February 2, 1950 No. GB/30/1950, with the exception of Bengkulu Kota Praja [capital subdistrict of the regency].

“The provisions in the a quo Law was stipulated before the amendment to the 1945 Constitution. In addition, the elucidation to the Emergency Laws No. 4, 5, and 6 of 1956 on the establishment of autonomous regions of regencies, big cities, and small cities in South Sumatera have provided explanation on the provisions on the borders of North Bengkulu and clear guidelines for the regional government to exercise governance in North Bengkulu Regency as stipulated in those emergency laws,” he explained.

Later on, to intensify and facilitate government, the South Sumatera Province was proliferated with the establishment of Bengkulu Province through Law No. 9 of 1967 on the Formation of Bengkulu Province, whose territory include North Bengkulu, South Bengkulu, and Rejang Lebong Regencies as well as Bengkulu City, which were separated from South Sumatera Province as referred to in Law No. 25 of 1959.

Safe and Conducive

Meanwhile, North Bengkulu regent, represented by North Bengkulu Regency secretariat’s government assistant for public welfare Rahmat Hidayat testified on the borders between North Bengkulu Regency and Lebong Regency, which had made Rejang customary law community part of North Bengkulu Regency without considering their right to determine how they preserve, cultivate, and develop their own culture and customs. The North Bengkulu regent believes this was legally unreasonable, because the affirmation of the borders between the two regencies does not serve to restrict the customary law community to preserve and develop their cultural identity and rights, but in fact to promote the improvement of services in government, development, and social affairs, as well as to give them the opportunity to utilize and develop the region’s potential. This is in line with Article 28I paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution, which stipulates that the cultural identity and rights of traditional communities are respected in line with the development of the times and civilization.

Rejang tribe is one of the biggest indigenous ethnic groups in Bengkulu Province—spread across five regencies: Rejang Lebong, North Bengkulu, Central Bengkulu, Kepahiang, and Lebong—all of whom have language and customs that are not vastly different, such as the “Kejai” traditional dance. As such, it is legally unreasonable that the Petitioner claims that the affirmation of the borders between North Bengkulu and Lebong Regencies has affected the preservation and development of the people’s culture and customs. “Because territorial borders would not limit emotional, social, and cultural relations among the community,” Rahmat said.

Rahmat argued that the situation in the borders of the regencies currently being disputed is safe and conducive. “There is no issue or complaint whatsoever from the residents of North Bengkulu who live in those areas because all population services or services on basic rights such as education or healthy operate well,” he explained.

Agrarian Services

Head of the Bengkulu Province Agrarian Office/Land Agency, represented by Sugiarto, stated that based on the agrarian administrative data in the North Bengkulu Regency and Lebong Regency Agrarian Office, Padang Bano Subdistrict and villages therein as referred to in the a quo case do not exist.

He explained that the cartometric points as referred to in Article 2 of the Regulation of the Minister of Home Affairs No. 20 of 2015 on the borders of North Bengkulu Regency, Bengkulu Province are coordinates on which the actual borders were set by both the North Bengkulu and Lebong Regency governments.

“Until today, agrarian services, both first registration or special data maintenance in the region that is object of the issue in the a quo case, i.e. Padang Bano Subdistrict, is done with the requirements relating to the identity of the person who request it or the subject of the right following the domicile of the object that became part of North Bengkulu Regency, such as Rena Jaya Village in Giri Mulya Subdistrict, Tanjung Kemenyan Village in Napal Putih Subdistrict, and Air Sebayur Village in Pinang Raya Subdistrict,” he stressed.

Also read:

Lebong Regency Govt Questions Certainty of Borders 

Petitioner’s Legal Team Reveals Lebong-North Bengkulu Territorial Dispute 

Govt Asserts Formation of Lebong Regency in Line with Constitution 

Bengkulu Governor Talks Lebong Regency’s Borders

At the preliminary hearing on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, the Petitioner asserted that Article 1 point 10 of the Law on the Establishment of North Bengkulu Regency and its elucidation had harmed them, as it resulted in the loss of the entire Padang Bano Subdistrict as well as some of 18 villages in 6 other subdistricts.

The Petitioner claimed to be able to prove that Padang Bano Subdistrict and some of 18 villages in 6 other subdistricts belong to them based on a Law on the regency’s establishment, given that the residents of those areas had belonged to the electoral district of Lebong Regency in the presidential, DPR (House of Representatives), DPD (Regional Representatives Council), and DPRD (Regional Legislative Council) elections in 2009 and 2014, not to North Bengkulu Regency.  

Author       : Utami Argawati
Editor        : Nur R.
PR            : Raisa Ayuditha
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 | 16:42 WIB 158