President Joko Widodo takes a selfie with residents during his visit to Kaimana district in West Papua on Oct. 27, 2019. (Photo from Twitter)

Jokowi Says No to Constitutional Amendment, Even If It Gives Him Another Tilt at Presidency


DECEMBER 02, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says Indonesia's lawmakers should stop attempting to amend the 1945 Constitution and focus instead on fighting "external pressures" and improving the economy.

Several lawmakers had initially pushed for the reinstatement of the New Order-style state policy guidelines (GBHN) to give political parties the upper hand in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), for which an amendment of the 1945 Constitution would be needed. 

Soon the lawmakers thought they could push for more constitutional amendments to usher in other changes, including bringing back indirect elections last seen under President Suharto. 

During the dictator's New Order regime, the president and vice president were elected by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

There has also been a push to extend the current term limit of the presidency from two periods to three.  

Another idea was to extend the length of each period from the current five years to eight years. 

MPR chairman Bambang Soesatyo has been meeting with political parties and mass organizations, including Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), to get them to support the constitutional amendments. 

After typically keeping mums on the subject, Jokowi finally broke his silence on Monday. 

"I am the product of direct elections," Jokowi said in Jakarta.

The president also stated on Twitter his opposition to the idea of extending the term limit of the presidency. 

"My position is clear: I disagree with the suggestion to extend the presidential term limit to three periods. This will only cause problems for me," he said.

Jokowi said he had told the MPR he was skeptical about the idea of amending the Constitution since he thought the idea could snowball into a raft of hasty and unconstitutional changes to the system. 

He said his fear had turned into reality with the current clamor for indirect election and the pressure to extend the presidential term limit. 

"It would be better if there was no amendment [of the Constitution]. We should turn our attention to fighting external pressures, which won't be easy to overcome," Jokowi said. 

The president also said the country needs to focus on efforts to lift the domestic economy from the gloom of the global economic downturn.