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6 Sing. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 116 (2002)
The Indonesian Constitutional Transition: Conservatism or Fundamental Change

handle is hein.journals/singa6 and id is 122 raw text is: Singapore Journal of International & Comparative Law
(2002) 6 pp 116 - 153
The Indonesian Constitutional Transition:
Conservatism or Fundamental Change?
Andrew Ellis*
THIS paper describes and analyses the constitutional amendment debate
that has taken place in Indonesia since the fall of Soeharto in 1998.
In doing so, it goes back to the roots of the Indonesian Constitution,
first enacted in 1945, and traces the genesis and development of issues
both of substantive and of symbolic importance that have influenced
the recent debates. It tracks in particular the major elements of discussion
and disagreement over the three years of the constitutional review
begun in 1999 and looks in particular at the sessions of the People's
Consultative Assembly (Majelis Perwakilan Rakyat or MPR) which have
undertaken the task of enacting the amendments. While this paper
was finalised immediately before the 2002 MPR Annual Session and
therefore does not contain the final stages of the story, it concludes
that the constitutional review, despite criticisms levelled at it, is likely
to bring fundamental change to the way the institutions of Indonesia
The 1945 Constitution of Indonesia is a short document containing
only 37 articles. It was written and reviewed during July and August
1945 by the Committee for Examination of Indonesian Independence
(Badan Penyelidik Usaha-usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia or
BPUPKI) and the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence
(Panitia Persiapan Kemerdekaaan Indonesia or PPKI) and is described
in its concluding Additional Provisions as being a temporary document.
Much of the inspiration of its major authors related to the nationalist
perspective of Indonesian independence; no other nation seeking to
establish democracy has since adopted the same pattern of state
institutions. In addition, this pattern of state institutions was substituted
in practice within three months of its promulgation. Yet the 1945
Constitution is a document with strong emotional and enduring
*  Senior Adviser, National Democratic Institute, Jakarta; Consultant, GJW Europe
- Weber Shandwick Worldwide, London.

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