MK warned over Yusril’s petition


Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Mon, December 09 2013, 9:34 AM

The Constitutional Court (MK) is expected to remain impartial in its handling of a judicial review petition against the Presidential Election Law, due to be filed by Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a presidential candidate from the Crescent Star Party (PBB).

Several major political parties have raised concerns over a possible conflict of interest with regard to Yusril’s petition, as the court is now headed by Hamdan Zoelva, a former PBB lawmaker and former employee of Yusril.

Yusril and Hamdan were also among the politicians who demanded that the Presidential Election Law be reviewed.

In 2008, both men challenged the law at the Constitutional Court, demanding it remove a provision stipulating that a party must gain 20 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of national legislative votes to nominate a presidential candidate. At the time, the court rejected the petition.

“A conflict of interest is unavoidable. The court should, therefore, reject the judicial review request,” Eva Kusuma Sundari, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The ruling Democratic Party and the Golkar Party have also expressed their concerns over the judicial review, reminding the court to remain objective when processing it. “There is no other choice but to ensure that Pak Hamdan is not on the panel of judges presiding over the judicial review,” Didi Irawadi of the Democratic Party said.

“We hope the court maintains its independence. The presidential system is mandated in our Constitution. Thus, we have to respect the article on the presidential threshold, which is there to strengthen the system,” Golkar politician Nurul Arifin said.

She said the judicial review would be a test for the court to prove its “professionalism and idealism”.

The image of the Constitutional Court has become tarnished following the arrest of former chief justice Akil Mochtar on bribery charges. Hamdan replaced Akil in November, despite a regulation in lieu of law issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to keep the court clean of political influence.

The PBB officially nominated Yusril as a presidential candidate for the 2014 election on Sunday in Surabaya.

Following the declaration, Yusril reiterated his intention to file a judicial review request on the Presidential Election Law, maintaining that it limited the rights of political parties to nominate a presidential candidate.

A recent survey by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) shows that if the election were held today, the PBB would only receive 0.4 percent of the vote.

“I will go to the MK to file the judicial review. We hope that the court will process it quickly so that we can obtain the result in January. We hope the court will make a ruling to allow all political parties to independently nominate presidential and vice-presidential candidates,” he said.

A number of political parties have already named prospective presidential and vice-presidential candidates although their electability ratings remained under 10 percent, according to opinion polls.

The People’s Conscience (Hanura) Party has nominated its chairman, Gen. (ret.) Wiranto, and media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo as its respective presidential and vice-presidential candidates for 2014, while the United Development Party (PPP) has officially nominated its party chairman and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali. The Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party will reportedly nominate its chief patron, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto, as its sole candidate for the presidential ticket, while the National Awakening Party (PKB) is considering nominating former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD. Meanwhile, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the ruling Democratic Party are holding their own presidential conventions to select their presidential candidates.

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