Absent Legislators Will Be Replaced Under New Rules

Watchdogs accuse lawmakers of ignoring responsibilities, instead prioritizing business and party activities

Despite public criticism of lawmakers for their lack of discipline and commitment, empty seats in meetings and plenary sessions remain a common scene at the House of Representatives.

The House Ethics Council will soon tighten regulations on lawmakers’ attendance at plenary sessions in order to curb absenteeism and tardiness.

The council said lawmakers can be fired under the new regulation if they fail to attend four plenary sessions in a row. Previously, ethics rules permitted six absences in a row.

“If a lawmaker skips four plenary sessions in a row, they will be replaced with an acting lawmaker,” Ethics Council member Ali Machsan Moesa said.

He said the Council currently relies on fingerprint scanners to record lawmakers’ presence, but the scanners were getting old, ineffective, and needed to be replaced.

“There is a new device that could determine whether a lawmaker left in the middle of a meeting, but the device is expensive,” he said.

He added that leaders should set an example to their members, “but even leaders themselves often come in late, skip meetings or even don’t show up at all.”

Ethics Council member Siswono Yudohusodo said although lawmakers’ attendance is not the main criterion for judging their performance, an appalling number of them are absent without any clear reason.

Siswono suspects lawmakers often put their own personal interests, such as business and party activities, ahead of their duties, or they are simply too lazy.

According to Concerned Citizens for the Indonesian Legislature (Formappi), up to 90 percent of the House’s 560 members displayed an unacceptable level of performance during the last term, among them Pramono Anung, the House’s deputy chairman, and senior Democrat legislator Sutan Bhatoegana.

“The truth is, I always work hard and I even work on holidays,” Pramono responded.

Pramono said the Ethics Council should publish lawmakers’ attendance record so  the public could monitor their representatives.

“Even though we are actually busy visiting our constituents, the reports should be published in the media anyway,” he said.

Bhatoegana also threatened to dissolve the House of Representatives Ethics Council and demanded the body name the dates he missed meetings or plenary sessions.

“It’s a complete lie. I will file a complaint. I will dissolve the council if I they insisted I was frequently absent — I will definitely dissolve it!” Bhatoegana added.

Ronald Rofiandri, advocacy director at the Center for the Study of Law and Policies of Indonesia (PSHK), said the frequent absence was the result of the lack of supervision from the political parties and factions.

He said the House did not have a mechanism that could compel lawmakers to work consistently.

“For instance, we don’t have voting days where the legislators’ attendance was really needed in making a decision. Therefore, some lawmakers think their presence isn’t very relevant,” he said.

Ronald added that closed meetings and the House secretary general’s poor management encouraged absenteeism.

  • human2

    These people act like children, so treat them like children. If your children were asked to do their homework and their teacher said it’;s o.k if you don’t do your homework 6 times in a row. Obviously not good enough right? To say now if you don’t do your homework 4 times in a row you will be in trouble, is saying basically skip 3 sessions in a row and come to 1 in 4 and you will be ok. 25% attendance is setting the bar embarrassingly low and one which I’m sure will be achieved by these lazy, narcolepsy suffering politicians.,,, Low expectations always means low achievement levels. Sad people… just sad.

    • The Hangman

      What an overly simplistic answer! Have you any idea of the workload of these people or are you basing everything on heresay?

  • J

    “There is a new device that could determine whether a lawmaker left in
    the middle of a meeting, but the device is expensive,” he said.

    A $70 car accident cam recorder would be enough. Or two for $150. Sure sounds expensive to me.

  • Roland

    “…He said the Council currently relies on fingerprint scanners to record lawmakers’ “presence, but the scanners were getting old, ineffective, and needed to be replaced….”

    Now isn’t that something! Those fingerprint scanners got just last year installed at a cost as reported) of Rp 4 Billion!

    So, how can they be now already old, ineffective and in need of replacement – PLUS of course the call for a “new device that could determine whether a lawmaker left in the middle of a meeting, BUT THE DEVICE IS EXPENSIVE!”

    Here are the archived stories about the installed fingerprint scanners (from last year)

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/archive/marzukis-friend-bids-for-fingerprinting-contract/

    and that one is even clearer (it’s from October 2012 when the fingerprint scanners got just installed – that’s now a mere 8 MONTHS AGO!) – ” old, ineffective and in need of replacement”… – what a joke!

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/archive/house-to-put-finger-on-absent-legislators/

    Now I think somebody is making here a story up just to make a bit of money on the side it seems…

    • devine

      Since it is Kindergarden the have obviously not yet figured out how the scanner works, you clock in when you arrive and you clock out when you leave.
      Therefore anybody that leaves early is registered too…
      USD400,000.-? WOW… you could easily get such a system at below a 10th of that… and it would certainly work longer than 8 month…
      So after the old scam they now work on a new one…

    • The Hangman

      Should you not like it, go home!

      • devine

        Seems you get a cut too… right?