Lawmaker Finds Anti-Truancy Scheme ‘Insulting’
The proposed fingerprinting system intended to more accurately gauge attendance at official meetings was again criticized during a plenary session on Tuesday where only 304 of 560 lawmakers turned up.
Indah Kurnia, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the argument that the system was needed to prevent legislators from faking their presence by signing attendance sheets and leaving, or getting others to sign in for them, falsely presumed that all legislators were guilty of truancy.
“I for one am not the kind of person that does this, so for me the call for a fingerprinting system seems reactionary and insults the integrity of legislators,” she said.
She added that there was no way to guarantee that installing the planned Rp 4 billion ($444,000) system would ensure higher attendance rates at official meetings and House sessions.
Indah also questioned the validity of gauging legislators’ performance based on their attendance at meetings, saying that they were ultimately answerable to their parties, not the House of Representatives.
“The way I see it, we’re here because we were recruited by our parties, so we’re responsible to them,” she said. “That’s why we have a system where we’re subject to performance reports from our constituents.”
Priyo Budi Santoso, the House deputy speaker overseeing Tuesday’s meeting, said the proposal was made in good faith and was not meant to defame House members.
He added that because of the debate over the merits of the system, the House leadership would call a meeting with the leaders of the nine parties in the legislature to discuss the issue.
“We will try to find a solution because even I feel uneasy about the whole idea of treating legislators like employees at a company,” said Priyo, from the Golkar Party.
“This is a political institution and we are state officials, so obviously we won’t always be able to show up for meetings because of other commitments.”
He added that even if the proposal was agreed on, the project to supply the fingerprint readers and other equipment would be carried out transparently and with close scrutiny.
“We will opt for the more effective and efficient devices, and ensure that the tender for the procurement of the devices is open,” he said.
The proposal, which has been in the works since last year, came under fire late last month from House Speaker Marzuki Alie, who said the Rp 4 billion price tag was excessive.
Marzuki, from the ruling Democratic Party, said the project should only cost Rp 500 million, and has since moved to get one of his friends a special concession to bid for the project.
Roy Suryo, another Democrat, agreed that the proposed cost was too high for a system that was not even guaranteed to improve attendance rates.
“If we want attendance at plenary sessions to improve, we can find more elegant ways to go about it than through a system that just wastes taxpayer money,” he said.
The project centers on supplying 16 fingerprint readers for the legislature. Currently, the House uses a system whereby an attendance sheet is passed around for legislators to sign, but many leave after signing.