Constitutional Court Chief Mahfud MD
has announced that he would step down in April after his current term
“To prevent any confusion, I
confirming that I did not resign from the Constitutional Court,”
Mahfud MD said through his official Twitter account on Thursday. “I
only told the House of Representatives that my office term ends on
April 1 and I’m not going to extend it.”
Mahfud said he sent the letter in early
October but added that he did not have a specific reason for wanting
He added that he would like to return
to the academe as a university lecturer and establish a center, or
“laboratory,” for legal activists.
“I only used to teach during
weekends, but in the future I can teach during working days too,”
he said. “I also want to build a legal activists laboratory.”
House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung said
that he appreciated Mahfud’s decision to respect his term limit.
“This is a good tradition,” Pramono said as quoted by
He added that even though the Constitutional Court
approved several judicial reviews of laws passed by the House, the
relationship between the legislature and the court was relatively
Mahfud was elected Constitutional Court
chief in 2008, and was re-elected for another three-year term in
Prior to 2008, he served as defense minister in the government of
President Abdurrahman Wahid and was a lawmaker for the National
Awakening Party (PKB).
The native of Madura made several bold
decisions during his first term in charge of the court. He dismissed
Attorney General Hendarman Supandji in 2010 on the grounds that the
chief prosecutor was not reinstalled by President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono when the president began his second term in office.
In late 2009, he allowed two antigraft
officials facing criminal charges, Chandra M. Hamzah and Bibit Samad
Riyanto, to present evidence in open court that they had been framed
by elements within the National Police and Attorney General’s
Office. After the dramatic wiretapped phone conversations were played
to the court, a deputy attorney general resigned and the police
dismissed the chief of detectives.
Mahfud also reported
Democratic Party politician Andi Nurpati to the police for falsifying
a court document.
In his second term, he continued to
make headlines, including by saying lawmakers could be paid to alter
legislation, using the term “article trading,” and saying he
suspected “mafia have penetrated the [State] palace” after the
president commuted a drug trafficker’s death sentence to life in
The Constitutional Court also improved
its reputation under his leadership, with landmark decisions like the cancellation of the 1963 Law on Securing Printed Materials
that gave the Attorney General’s Office the absolute power to ban
books it deemed offensive as well as of the 2009 Education Legal
that granted autonomy to educational institutions, including seeking
their own funding.
In 2011, the Constitutional Court was
also rocked by a bribery and forgery scandal involving former Justice