Third Term Proposal Gets Lukewarm Response


Democrat Party lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul’s idea to propose an amendment to the 1945 Constitution so that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would be able to run for a third term in 2014 is a setback in democracy and would betray the country`s reforms agenda, legislators say.

“This discourse is a setback in democracy. So, it does not need to be given serious response because it would be counterproductive and a waste time and energy,” National Mandate Party (PAN) politician Teguh Juwarno, said.

Sitompul, a member of the Democrat Party (PD) faction in the House of Representatives (DPR), has earlier stated that he would propose an amendment to the 1945 Constitution to extend the tenure of the president to three terms considering that at present there was no figure who could match President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as a national leader.

Teguh Juwarno, who is also chairman of House Commission II on home affairs, said that the idea was a setback in the history of Indonesia`s democracy where the people had paid dearly in fighting for a reform of the democracy system adopted during former president Soeharto who did not restrict presidential terms.

According to Nurul Arifin of the Golkar Party faction in the House of Representatives (DPR), extending the tenure of the president by the third term would constitute a betrayal to the reforms and would be detrimental to state constitution.

“The 1945 Constitution has been amended to accommodate the public call for a change in (old) democracy system to prevent authoritarianism,” she said.

Secretary of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) faction Ganjar Pranowo said Sitompul had made the statement like a person who had just woken up from a nap.

He said that the constitution has been amended where the tenure of the president had been restricted to two terms only. The amendment was made based on a background where former president Suharto continued to serve his terms without restrictions.

“It seems that Ruhut was provoked to revive the Suharto style of government,” Pranowo said.

Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso of Golkar said Sitompul had raised an extremely courageous idea. He said that amending the constitution for the sake of adding the presidential terms to more than two periods would only cause prolonged polemics and waste of time and energy.

In the meantime, Constitutional expert Jimly As’shiddiqie said that the discourse raised by Ruhut who is a legislator of the ruling Democrat Party would not benefit President Yudhoyono.

“I don`t think the idea will be accepted by the public and it will not benefit Yudhoyono,” he said.

Moreover, if the constitution was amended in the current presidential term, it could not be applied to the current president. “Should the amendment be carried out it can only be applied to the next president, not the incumbent president,” he said.

Anas Urbaningrum, the Democrat Party`s chairman, said President Yudhoyono was only willing to serve as president twice or until 2014. “His stance on this matter is very clear and firm. There is not the slightest doubt about it. Twice is enough as mandated by the constitution. Yudhoyono wishes to complete his present or second term with a good record,” he said.

Thus, Sitompul’s idea was a personal one and had never been discussed within the Democrat Party.

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