Regional Autonomy and Legal Disorder: The Proliferation of Local Laws in Indonesia
Sydney Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 177-197, 2010
36 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2010 Last revised: 6 Oct 2010
Date Written: July 29, 2010
Under Indonesia’s decentralisation reforms authority was granted to two levels of regional government – provinces (propinsi) on the one hand, and districts (kabupaten) and cities (kota) on the other – to make their own policies and local laws. Many of the laws these new local authorities have passed have been criticised for being unclear, unnecessary, misdirected, exploitative of citizens and investors, or even unconstitutional. This article aims to describe and analyse the mechanisms under which these local laws can be reviewed and revoked, if deemed necessary. I show that the two currently-available mechanisms for review of local laws – bureaucratic review by the central government and judicial review by the national Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung, or MA) – appear to be both deeply flawed. From an analysis of 500 bureaucratic review decisions, and 16 Supreme Court decisions, this study shows that, unless a local law seeks to impose a tax or user charge, it is highly unlikely to be reviewed. This is so even if its content breaches fundamental principles of law, including human rights, or has otherwise deleterious effects for citizens. This paper begins by discussing the legal infrastructure for decentralisation, focusing on the relative jurisdictions of the various levels of government, before turning to these bureaucratic and judicial review mechanisms. It concludes with observations about effects of this proliferation of local laws upon the Indonesian legal order.
Keywords: Indonesia law, regional autonomy, legal certainty, judiciary
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation