Should the 1945 Constitution be amended or not?

Should the 1945 Constitution be amended or not?

Illustration of the amendment of the 1945 Constitution. ANTARA/illustrator/Kliwon/FR

Ever since the amendment of the 1945 Indonesian Constitution became a hot topic of discussion among people, several competing viewpoints raise a certain question on whether the government should amend the 1945 Constitution.

Political leaders claimed that they need to amend the 1945 Constitution to better accommodate the people's needs in addition to adjusting the Constitution to the current developments of our modern era.

However, most people believe there is no need for the government to conduct the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution as was apparent from the results of several surveys on this issue.


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The Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) survey result indicates that 78 percent of Indonesians are averse to any amendment of the 1945 Constitution.

A similar sentiment was observed in an indicator survey result that shows 69 percent of the elite and 55 percent of the public declared that it is not yet time to amend the 1945 Constitution.

With this mindset, is the amendment of the 1945 Constitution truly necessary for the people and how to ensure that this amendment can fulfill the people's needs.

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Supporting Factors

During an opening speech read by People's Consultative Assembly (MPR RI) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo on August 16, 2021, it was stated that limited changes in the 1945 Constitution are necessary to increase MPR's authority to determine state policy guidelines (PPHN).

PPHN will become the ideological and constitutional foundation within the formation of the technocratic National Development Planning System (SSPN), Long Term Development Plan (RPJP), and Mid Term Development Plan (RPJM), Soesatyo noted.

He emphasized the importance of allowing the MPR to have the authority to determine PPHN to ensure that within 50-100 years, Indonesia's future will be replete with national, regional, and global development.

Such development will be driven by industrial revolution as well as the advancement of science, technology, and information.

Soesatyo believes that such limited changes will not open a pandora box.


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In addition, there is an agenda to strengthen the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) as a representative institution with a bicameral system.

If DPD's role can be strengthened through the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution, then the institution will be more capable of representing the people's life, DPD Speaker AA LaNyalla Mahmud noted.

It would also ensure that decisions and policies made at the national level would accommodate the interest of regions, he added.

Strengthening of the DPD will create a double check mechanism for the decisions made by the government to ensure that regional interests are represented.

According to Mahmud, strengthening DPD through the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution can help boost prosperity of each region in Indonesia.

However, beyond fighting for institutional strengthening, DPD is also striving to open opportunity for future leaders to become presidential candidates without the backing of a political party.

Within the existing 1945 Constitution, a presidential candidate can only be determined by a political party.


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This stipulation can be found in Article 6A, paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution which states that the presidential and vice presidential candidate pair is determined by the political party or coalition of political parties before the general election.

Meanwhile, DPD Deputy Speaker III Sultan Bachtiar Najamudin opined that Indonesia has several potential leaders, but not all of them are part of a political party.

A similar view was echoed by Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) member Titi Anggraini who believes there cannot be an independent president and vice president candidate pair on account of Article 6A, paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution.

Hence, according to the DPD, the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution can open a broader opportunity for Indonesian people to nominate themselves to become the president or vice president.

These factors reflect the political leaders' enthusiasm to amend the 1945 Constitution. Hence, the question that arises is why do most people reject the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution.

The People's View

Several politicians and academics under the Indonesia University Alumni Association (ILUNI UI) declared their rejection to the idea of amending the 1945 Constitution during the 61th ILUNI UI's Salemba Discussion Forum.

The reason behind this rejection is the belief that it is not yet urgent to amend the 1945 Constitution, and it would require complete evaluation and review over the previous amendment results.

MPR's Democrat Party Faction Chairman Benny K. Harman informed that the government should substantiate the issue in the fourth amendment of the 1945 Constitution comprehensively before starting the fifth amendment.


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Meanwhile, constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti stressed that formulating PPHN through the 1945 Constitution amendment is not compatible with the constitutional system.

She opined that forming the PPHN becomes incompatible since MPR no longer held the position as the highest institution in Indonesia. MPR cannot choose the president and vice president, and they can no longer issue a mandate.

Based on the survey result from the Saiful Mujadi Research and Consulting, around 66 percent of respondents deemed that the existing 1945 Constitution is already the best and no longer needed to be changed for any reason.

Around 12 percent deemed that the 1945 Constitution still has flaws, though, thus far, it was considered to be appropriate for Indonesians.

Conclusion

These views show that the agenda brought up by authorities do not yet accommodate the interests of most of the Indonesians.

This is despite the fact that amending the Constitution is an important action to ensure that the 1945 Constitution can accommodate the interests of people along with being at par with the current developments.

The world is changing at such a rapid pace that it necessitates the latest law foundation, so that Indonesia can ensure the nation's harmony.

Observing other countries, it can be seen that amending the Constitution is a taboo act or at least it is not something to be done in a hurry.


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To this end, in order to ensure that the amendment can fulfill the people's needs, leaders should collaborate with researchers to evaluate the fourth amendment of the 1945 Constitution.

They should review the various problems that the nation encounters that are not accommodated in the fourth amendment.

This evaluation result can serve as a foundation for the government to conduct the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution.

Furthermore, the government should be heedful of inputs of the people, especially civilian organizations from various fields, to get a clear picture of the people's needs.

The government can use this opportunity to share the evaluation result and get a broader picture of the people's response on the agenda to be discussed during the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution.

What is most important is to conduct dissemination to ensure that deviating issues are not growing amid the public, especially problems that could trigger political instability.

With this, the fifth amendment of the 1945 Constitution can be conducted and optimally accommodate the people's needs.


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