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Blueprint in a Gray Book

The AGO has a ‘work regulation,’ the Supreme Court has a blueprint. But implementations are hard.

NOT only in the Department of Finance, bureaucratic reforms are also taking place in a number of departments and state supreme institutions. One of them is the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). At the law enforcement institution, on July 23, Attorney General Hendarman Supandji launched a “renewing the AGO” program. The renewal package is written in the six District Attorney regulations. “The regulations are to improve the culture, work discipline, and professional ethics of the attorneys,” said Hendarman at the launching ceremony.

This new package is relatively comprehensive, regulating among others recruitment of civil servants and attorneys in AGO offices, education and training, minimum standards of the attorney profession, and career development. In addition—this is extremely important—code of attorney behavior, supervision, and penalties.

The reforms package is actually a “legacy” from Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh. When he was in office, Abdul Rahman formed a Task Group to Accelerate the Renewal of Attorney General’s Office. The group that was established on June 30, 2005 comprises attorneys, academicians, and members of NGOs. The Task Groups for Preparing the Minimum Standards of the Attorney Profession and Code of Attorney Behavior were formed by Abdul Rahman on August 28, 2006. The purpose is the same: to improve attorneys’ professionalism.

Although the attorneys general have changed, from ‘Arman’ to Hendarman, the work of the reforms team continues. On May 25, 2007, about two weeks after being installed as Attorney General, Hendarman signed a decision to form a Task Group on AGO Reforms. Its task is to finish what the previous task group started, the results of which Hendarman announced to the public last July.

That’s the AGO. The Supreme Court is different. The institution led by Bagir Manan already has a blueprint to reform the Supreme Court. “Discussions on the blueprint started around year 2000,” said Director for the Legal and Policy Study Center, Bivitri Susanti, one of the team members who prepared it. The blueprint in a gray-covered book includes employee recruitment, career, accountability as well as transparency systems of the institution that’s called the last bastion of justice.

The blueprint was completed in 2003. It was followed by a formulation of “Guidelines on Judge Behavior”, which was introduced to the public in May 2006. The guidelines were at one point condemned for allowing judges to accept gifts. The guidelines were corrected and completed seven months later. This year, the Supreme Court also established a Task Group on Judicial Transparency to encourage transparency in all court decisions.

To encourage bureaucracy reforms, the State Minister of Administrative Reform is also preparing a number of regulations. Among them are bills on public service, non-profit service, government administration, central-regional relations, state governance ethics, state employment, departments and state departments, and national monitoring. “This year the Public Service Bill will be finished,” said Administrative Reform Minister Taufiq Effendi. Another that his department will soon discuss is civil servant salary and benefit improvement.

The plans to reform those offices are met with positive response by many people. Bivitri Susanti, for example, calls the blueprints in the Supreme Court and AGO theoretically ideal. “However, their implementation will not be easy,” said the researcher who also participated in the AGO reforms task group. She thinks that there are people opposing the idea.

Coordinator of the Consortium for National Legal Reforms, Firmansyah Arifin, voiced the same opinion. He thinks that efforts in legal bodies are underway. However, the implementation is not too smooth. For the AGO, which only has a reforms package, according to him, its development must still be observed.

With regard to the Supreme Court, says Firmansyah, not all of its officials have the spirit to reform yet. However, he also points to the attitude of Supreme Court high officials who choose to “play it safe” so that they don’t get any opposition from their subordinates. “The Court leadership doesn’t seem to have a strong political will to implement it,” said Firmansyah.

Abdul Manan, Rini Kustiani

Tempo Magazine, No. 51/VII/August 21 - 27, 2007

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