Bambang Soesatyo, the chairman of the People'd Consultative Assembly, right, discusses a possible limited amendment to the 1945 Constitution the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board chairman Said Aqil Siraj on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

NU Shows Support for Indirect Presidential Election


NOVEMBER 28, 2019

Jakarta. The Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board, or PBNU, the executive body of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, has suggested amending the 1945 Constitution to bring back electoral arrangements last seen under Suharto's New Order, including indirect presidential election and unelected minority delegations in the parliament.  

The board's members conveyed the suggestion to the chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) when they met on Wednesday. 

Bambang Soesatyo, the MPR chairman, has been meeting with different political groups to gauge support for a limited amendment to the 1945 Constitution to revive the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN), which will allow for the electoral changes above.

PBNU said they supported the revision and added some suggestions of their own, including the return of the MPR as the highest sovereign body in the land with the power to elect the president and the vice president.

"Handing back the power to elect presidents to the MPR was a decision made during the NU National Conference in Kempek, Cirebon [in West Java] in 2012, when [the president] was still SBY," PBNU chairman Said Aqil Siraj said after the meeting, mentioning ex-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by his initials. 

Said's statement was published on NUOnline, the organization's official website. 

Said said the conference had come to the conclusion that the disadvantages of a direct presidential election outweigh its benefits. 

"Direct presidential election has a very high social cost. [It creates] worrying, threatening conflicts," he said. 

"Remember what we went through in the last election. The political tension was alarming. Thank God, we got through it [without causing disintegration]. But do we have to go through the same thing every five years?" Said said. 

NU is also proposing to revive another New Order system that will allow the presence of hand-picked delegates in the House of Representatives (DPR) and in the Regional Representatives Council (DPD). The organization claimed this would ensure that the interests of minority groups are represented in the national legislatures. 

NU said bringing back the GBHN would provide a clearer direction for Indonesia's economic development. It also urged the House of Representatives to pass the controversial Criminal Code bill as soon as possible.

"We have a golden opportunity in the next two to three years to decide if we do need the limited amendment or not," Bambang said.