Dispute between Lebong-North Bengkulu Regency Governments over Padang Bano

Harsanto Nursadi and Fitriani Ahlan Sjarif after taking an oath to testify at a material judicial review hearing of the Law on the Formation of North Bengkulu, Monday (11/20/2023). Photo by MKRI/Ifa.

JAKARTA (MKRI) — Law No. 28 of 1959 on the Formation of North Bengkulu Regency did not clearly state its territorial borders, which were only based on the military territory at that time. Meanwhile, Law No. 39 of 2003 on the Establishment of Lebong Regency clearly states its territorial borders. It is clear that there are five subdistricts of North Bengkulu Regency that shares a border with Lebong Regency. One of the “most important” subdistricts, which was later disputed, is Giri Mulya Subdistrict.

The statement was made by Harsanto Nursadi, an expert presented by the Petitioners at a 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. The eighth hearing for case No. 71/PUU-XXI/2023 took place on Monday, November 20, 2023 in the Constitutional Court’s (MK) plenary courtroom. The petition 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.

According to Harsanto, due to lack of certainty of the borders of North Bengkulu Regency at the time of its formation (a “compound” regional formation law relating to 17 other level ii regions), the borders applied are those in the Lebong Regency Establishment Law (Law No. 39 of 2003), especially in relation to the territory. “Law No. 39 of 2003 explicitly mentions Giri Mulya Subdistrict as the west border of Lebong Regency, while in fact at that time Padang Bano Village was in Lebong Atas Subdistrict, which is an area of Lebong Regency (Article 3 letter e). Based on this, it is clear that Padang Bano Village is in Lebong Regency according to Law No. 39 of 2003,” he explained.

Minister of Home Affairs’ Authority

Harsanto also explained the authority of the Minister of Home Affairs in resolving border disputes and/or determining borders in a regulation (permendagri). The Minister of Home Affairs does not have the authority to determine and/or transfer the territory of one regency to another. Permendagri No. 20 of 2015 was issued based on a memorandum of agreement officially signed by the parties (Lebong Regency regent and DPRD chairman and North Bengkulu regent and DPRD chairman) and witnessed by the Bengkulu governor’s advisory council (muspida) on February 5, 2007.

“In fact, the memorandum of agreement continued and seven years later became Permendagri No. 20 of 2015, which moved Padang Bano area/village from Lebong Regency to North Bengkulu Regency and made it part of Giri Mulya Subdistrict, and also moved part of 18 villages spread across six other subdistricts into the North Bengkulu Regency area,” Harsanto explained.

Formation of Padang Bano Subdistrict

At this hearing, the Petitioner also presented Fitriani Ahlan Sjarif as an expert. Fitriani said that the evidence of Law No. 39 of 2003 on the Formation of Lebong Regency and Kepahiang Regency in Bengkulu Province, had clearly established Lebong Regency as a Regency, and had determined its borders. However, Bengkulu Regency still uses Law No. 28 of 1959, which does not mention borders. In fact, laws on the establishment of territory is a type of law that is determinative, so they must concretely mention the borders of the territory.

The law and legislation lecturer at the Law Faculty of Universitas Indonesia also emphasized that the determination of the borders based on the permendagri seems to be a “law” that establishes North Bengkulu Regency. In the preface to the permendagri, the borders are based on an agreement between the North Bengkulu Regency Government and the Lebong Regency Government, facilitated by the Bengkulu Provincial Government through a memorandum of agreement on the affirmation of the regional borders between North Bengkulu Regency and Lebong Regency dated February 5, 2007, signed by the regents and the DPRD chairpersons of the two bordering regencies, governor of Bengkulu, chairperson of the Bengkulu DPRD, head of the Bengkulu Regional Police, head of the Bengkulu High Prosecution Office, Danrem 041/Gamas, and the chief judge of the Bengkulu High Court.

Thus, according to Fitriani, it is inaccurate to state that the norms of regional formation in the permendagri are the interpretation of the laws above them. The formation of Padang Bano Subdistrict was based on Law No. 39 of 2003 on the formation of Lebong Regency and Kepahiang Regency in Bengkulu Province. The formation was based on evidence of Lebong Regency Regulation No. 7 of 2007 on the formation of Padang Bano Subdistrict in Lebong Regency.

Historically, she continued, the Padang Bano had been part of Lebong Atas Subdistrict. Then, after Lebong Regency was legalized based on the Law, Padang Bano became part of Lebong Regency.  The formation of subdistrict is the content of a regional regulation, which must not conflict with the Law.

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

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

Former Lebong Regent Reveals Territorial Agreement

Petitioner’s Expert Reveals Lebong’s History

At the preliminary hearing on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, the Petitioners 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.

They 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  : Tahlitha Laela/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.

Monday, November 20, 2023 | 14:34 WIB 81