Back to Home Page National News November 30, 2000
Six chief justice candidates undergo final selection
JAKARTA (JP): Six candidates for Supreme Court chief justice
undergoing a final test by the Commission II of the House of
Representatives on Wednesday, pledged to improve the poor image of the
Supreme Court, by amongother things, dismissing bad supreme court
Questioned one by one on an alphabetic basis, the chief justices were
asked various questions from the members of Commission II, dealing
with domestic and legal affairs, on their vision if they were elected
Supreme Court chief justice.
However, Commission II chairman Amin Aryoso asked all the candidates
for their comments about Daniel S. Lev's statement that reforming the
Supreme Court meant dismissing all the current supreme court justices.
Daniel S. Lev is an American expert on Indonesia.
President Abdurrahman Wahid's preference Benjamin Mangkoedilaga agreed
that dismissing unscrupulous chief justices was part of internal
reform agenda in the Supreme Court.
"However, if all the chief justices fail fair and appropriate tests,
and the people want them all to be dismissed, why not?" Benjamin said.
He stressed the judge's morality was the key to reform the Supreme
Court,not their salary and facilities.
If he was elected to head the Supreme Court, he would start with
'repairing' the system and, at the same time, selecting 'good' chief
"I promise I'll do my best in reforming the Supreme Court within two
years," said the 63-year old Benjamin, who, according to the law,
should retire in two years.
Benjamin gained popularity in 1995 when, as the presiding judge at the
Jakarta State Administrative Court, he favored Tempo magazine in the
case against the government over the government's ban.
Another candidate, a Bandung-based constitutional law professor Bagir
Manan disagreed with Daniel S. Lev's idea, saying that not all chief
justice are bad. "Some of them still have common sense and a good
Artidjo Alkostar, another candidate from Yogyakarta, supported Bagir's
view that some of the current 51 chief justices should retain their
posts as they were good enough.
Artidjo, former chief of the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), won
full support from his former institute.
In its letter on Wednesday to the central board of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), LBH Yogyakarta urged
that the party's faction at the House name Artidjo as chief justice.
Meanwhile, Muladi, another candidate from the Golkar Party, told the
House that he preferred reforming the Supreme Court through a systemic
approach, to dismissing chief justices.
"The Supreme Court has been suffering damage in its working system, so
itneeds a new approach to mend it," said Muladi who was former Justice
Minister during former president Soeharto and Habibie's term of
The Wednesday hearing was attended by several noted lawyers, including
Muladi's aides Hotma Sitompul, Ruhut Sitompul and Tommy Sihotang who
grouped in a defense team of the Indonesian Military (TNI)/Police in
human right abuses case in East Timor.
About 200 people, mostly East Timorese, wearing yellow head bands
reading"Vote for Muladi" went to the House. Some of them sat on the
balcony in theroom where the House members questioned the six
Muladi, Benjamin, Bagir and Artidjo were 'outsiders', who were
installed as supreme justices in July while the remaining candidates
Soeharto and Tonton were all Supreme Court career justices.
The House will have to select the best two out of the six on Dec. 5
and refer them to the President, who has the prerogative to select the
best one. (jun/23/44)
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