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Majority of Indonesian MPs receive 'fail' grade

Watchdog group's damning report ahead of April 9 election

<p>Indonesian elected officials "don't yet fully understand" their responsibilities, says Sebastian Salang, chairman of Indonesian Parliament Watch.</p>
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Indonesian elected officials "don't yet fully understand" their responsibilities, says Sebastian Salang, chairman of Indonesian Parliament Watch.

 

  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • April 4, 2014
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A political watchdog group has given a 'fail' grade to more than 80 percent of Indonesian legislators, charging elected officials with gross incompetence and failing to respond to constituents.

The damning report, by Indonesian Parliament Watch, was released on Thursday, days before Indonesia’s April 9 parliamentary elections.

The report graded members of Indonesia’s House of Representatives on a variety of criteria, including attendance, constituent affairs and financial accounting. While Indonesia’s political system is notorious for rampant corruption and abuse of powers, the report focused on elected officials' day-to-day job performance.

The report, the result of 18 months of research, gave 435 of 519 parliamentarians fail grades.

Indonesian Parliament Watch chairman, Sebastian Salang, said the report showed that elected officials “don’t yet fully understand” their responsibilities.

“This report shows that our parliamentarians are still causing more concern,” he said.

Eva Kusuma Sundari, an incumbent parliamentarian from the Democratic Party of Struggle, said she hopes to learn from the report and will improve her performance. Sundari received a score of 5.92, considered “good enough”. Scores below 4.00 are considered “very bad”.

“There are many things I need to make it better,” she told ucanews.com.

Jacobus Kristiadi, a political analyst from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the report was a valuable breakthrough and part of an effort to nurture democracy in Indonesia.

“It indicates that civil society is strong enough in controlling a public organization like the House of Representatives. It’s a one-step-forward movement in our democracy,” Kristiadi told ucanews.com.

But Kristiadi also lamented parliamentarians’ poor performances.

“They sit in the House of Representatives and do not think about the people they represent. Instead, they think about their own interests,” he said.

He hoped that people will take the report into consideration before electing candidates in the parliamentary election. “Thus, they can vote for the right candidates,” he said.

The upcoming elections will be the fourth in Indonesia since former president Suharto’s 31 years in power ended in 1998 amid violent government protests. This year, Indonesians will elect 560 members to the House of Representatives and 132 members to the Regional Representative Council.

Indonesian Parliament Watch, which was founded to monitor the legislative and executive branches, has previously criticized elected officials for dereliction of duty.

Last year, the watchdog said that up to 90 percent of House members displayed an unacceptable level of performance during the past term, and called for an ethics investigation into lawmakers for chronic absenteeism during plenary sessions and legislative meetings.

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