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14 J. Comp. L. 56 (2019)
Post-Soeharto Constitutional Amendment in Indonesia: Promises and Pitfalls

handle is hein.journals/jrnatila14 and id is 62 raw text is: 

Post-Soeharto Constitutional Amendment in Indonesia

           Post-Soeharto Constitutional

              Amendment in Indonesia:

                   Promises and Pitfalls

                               DIAN A. H. SHAH*

May 1998 marked the beginning of a new era for Indonesia. After a period of protracted
street protests and violence, Soeharto (1921-2008) (also known as Suharto) - the second
president who led Indonesia for more than three decades - finally resigned. Public
euphoria followed his unanticipated fall, as Indonesians began to feel hopeful about the
nation's future after decades of authoritarian rule. His iron-fist administration was marred
by rampant corruption, weak rule of law (led -chiefly -by a broken judicial system that
was notorious for being an instrument of the State's powerful executive), and flagrant
human rights abuses. Indeed, about a week before his resignation, Indonesian security
forces opened fire at a student protest in Jakarta, killing six students and injuring at least
a dozen others. There were reports of the abduction of anti-establishment student activists
in 1998 led by Soeharto's son in law, Prabowo Subianto (b. 1951), who was the Head of the
Army Strategic Reserve Command. Lawlessness reigned, especially in the last few months
of Soeharto's rule. Throughout his administration, the Constitution was not only a mere
parchment barrier to government encroachment on rights; it legitimized the authoritarian
era that Indonesia endured for over 30 years.
   Indonesia's executive-heavy constitution was deliberately designed to be so by the
constitution-makers. Soepomo, who as chief architect of the 1945 Constitution aspired for
what he called an integralistic State (negara integralistik) in Indonesia. The integralistic
State model advances a romanticized idea of the relationship between the government and
citizens: there is no distinction between the State and the individual.' Individuals form an
organic part of the State, and because the State and its citizens were seen as one and the
same, it was thought that there could be no conflict between the former and the latter.2
This motivated the omission of a comprehensive set of fundamental rights guarantees in
the 1945 Constitution. Although influential figures like Moh Yamin and Hatta - both of
whom were members of the BPUPKI (Investigative Committee for Preparatory Works for
Indonesian Independence) - supported fundamental rights provisions in the Constitution

  LL.B. (Warwick); LL.M., S.J.D. (Duke); Research Fellow, National University of Singapore.
  Speech by Soepomo on 31 May 1945, in RM. A. B. Kusuma, Lahirnya Undang-undang Dasar 1945 (Memuat
Salinan Dokumen Otentik Badan Oentock Menyelidiki Oesaha-oesaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan) [The Birth of the 1945
Constitution (Containing Copies of Authentic Documents of the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work
for Indonesian Independence)] (rev. ed.; University of Indonesia Law Faculty Publishers, 2009), p. 127.
2 See speeches by Soepomo (31 May 1945) and Soekarno (1 June 1945), ibid., pp. 28-30, 75.
56      JCL 14:1

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