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Indonesia: Attendance of Legislators to Be Public Information

(Mar. 8, 2012) The Ethics Council of Indonesia's House of Representatives adopted a new rule on March 6, 2012. According to Muhammad Prakosa, the Chairman of the Council, any legislators who miss two plenary meetings in succession, without valid reasons, will be sent letters of warning and their names will be given to the press. The same consequences would occur if a lawmaker has a colleague sign in for him or her. In order to enforce the new policy, closed circuit television footage and the attendance log would be consulted. According to a press report, members of the legislature are also going to have their fingerprints taken via a scanner when they attend sessions. (Lawmakers Who Miss Sessions Can Expect to Be Shamed, THE JAKARTA GLOBE (Mar.7, 2012).)

Fingerprint scanning as a method of assessing attendance has been controversial in Indonesia. It was first proposed in 2010 and became an issue again in November 2011, when of the 560 legislators, 240 did not attend on the opening day of the new House session. (Markus Junianto Sihaloho, PDI-P Official Balks at Fingerprinting, THE JAKARTA POST (Nov. 28, 2011).)

The Secretary General of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Tjahjo Kumolo, criticized the fingerprinting plan as treating legislators like civil servants. He said, “[m]embers of the House are also party politicians, not House personnel who have to be there 24 hours a day. Sometimes they also have to do work for the party.” (Id.) The project was also criticized for the installation cost. House Speaker Marzuki Alie, of the Democratic Party, argued that the projected price of Rp4 billion (about US$436,000) was much too high and that the system should cost no more than Rp500 million (about US$54,500). (Ezra Sihite, Lawmaker Finds Anti-Truancy Scheme “Insulting,” THE JAKARTA GLOBE (Dec. 7, 2011).)