It is not just emails, but there are serious problems underlying DPR’s institutional capacity.
During their “study trip”to Australia, members of DPR’s Commission VIII that oversees religious and social affairs made a mishap by stating a fake email address when asked by one of its constituents on how to contact the Commission during their discussion that was held by the Indonesian Students Association of Australia (PPI Australia).
Other IMO Bloggers have posted their story on DPR’s study trip and also on the video capturing the whole commotion. PPI Australia have also made an evaluation of DPR’s visit here (in Bahasa Indonesia).
It’s not entirely surprising that this pandemonium happened, because this only adds up to the list of “mistakes” that DPR have made. The email incident is just the tip of the iceberg, because I would argue that the problem lies deeper and it has something to do with the dire condition of DPR’s institutional capacity.
Firstly, the much needed institutional capacity building in DPR did not happen during the course of Soeharto’s 32-year authoritarian regime. MPR/DPR were pretty much the President’s rubber stamp when it comes to the government’s policies. While other parliaments in the world have developed themselves as an effective political institution for checks and balances of the executive’s power, MPR/DPR was very much under the executive’s control.
It was only until 1998 onwards, post-Reformasi and Indonesia’s transition to democracy that people realize that DPR can actually do something, that they have an authority that can balance the executive by representing the voices of its citizens. As a result, even though the DPR building exists there for a long time, but inside the building, the process of DPR’s evolution as an institution that truly represents the interests of the Indonesian constituents have only started slightly more than a decade ago.
Second, DPR needs to know that its constituents matter. The real voice of the people matters. Public scrutiny such as the video that was made by students of PPI Australia is a form of feedback on DPR’s performance. Being defensive about this whole incident and not saying sorry just truly show that they are not working for the interests of the people. We would like to know how to contact DPR, but if they don’t have any interaction or a forum of communication with its constituents, how are we going to make sure that they’re doing their job?
Social media, thankfully, has been an effective tool to monitor the performance of our legislators, our government officials, and our political parties, especially since the mainstream media have also been captured by the elite’s interests.
Rather than going abroad, wouldn’t it better that during DPR’s recess week that they go back to their constituents and do their work back home in Indonesia? I know some legislators do this, but unfortunately this is not the norm – only the exception.
I’ve mentioned in my other post that we’re partly to blame because we were the ones who put these people in DPR. Voting matters, but I know most of us randomly ticked whoever name is listed on the election paper based on the party – because we simply don’t know whom to choose. Thus, the biggest underlying problem in DPR is that the process of selecting the best candidate in Indonesia’s political party system is defunct.
If we were given a good candidate, we would’ve voted him/her to be in DPR or DPRD. Alas, the candidate selection mechanism in the party is opaque, not merit-based and it is a common perception that whoever owns the more amount of money can be selected. In the end, the names listed in the ballot paper are unknowns with no credentials – and on the point of emails – it’s people that we can’t even contact with!
It takes good leadership for someone inside DPR right now to make performance evaluation and connecting with constituents as a norm, institutionalize it in the system.
It also takes good leadership for those who are in the top posts of the political parties to understand that people are growing tired of these rhetorics and we want concrete programs and policies with results, because we simply want the best people with the best competence working for our best interests.