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Southeast Asia

The Discourse of Three Periods of Widodo’s in the Perspective of the Indonesian Constitution



As known which the progress of a nation and the success of a state constitution is one of the causes of the country’s leader. For instance the case in Indonesia, in the next two years, President Joko Widodo will officially be the president for a decade (two periods). Through the successive period of President Joko Widodo, there was a discourse that emerged on his period to three terms. Indonesia is a democratic country that upholds the constitution, the limited authority of the rulers, ensuring the rights of the people, and running a good government are absolute things that must be realized. If this discourse happened, it will require a reshuffle of the state base, the participation of the public, and also the role of government for the running of the government in a conducive manner. The constitution in Indonesia is a form of community agreement in the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia which is considered a connector for the ideals of nation-building and the common prosperity. One of the big influences in the life of state administration is how the government of a country runs well and the lives of its people are guaranteed. As a country that adheres to a constitutionalist system, the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia should be used as the basis for the administration of its government. Therefore, as the notion of constitutionalism exists amid the Indonesian constitution, it aims to ensure that no power is harmed if Jokowi’s three periods occurred.

From the New Order government to reformation, one of the hopes of the nation, both the people and the government at that time until now, was to jointly renew the term of office system to a new presidency with restrictions on it. This hope departs from the track record of former President Soeharto, who served as President of the Republic of Indonesia for approximately 32 years. Since a period of reform that only focused on the objectives of the principle of constitutionalism, the limitation on the power or authority of a ruler had indeed been regulated in Article 7 of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia which became the reference for a replacement to the next President of the Republic of Indonesia.

President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, in the next two years will officially serve for approximately 10 years or a decade. President Joko Widodo’s term of office will expire in 2024 since he has been President of the Republic of Indonesia for two terms, Joko Widodo cannot run again because according to the mandate of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia as mentioned overhead, the limitation of power is regulated in Article 7 which reads, the President and Vice President can only hold office for five years and indeed can later be re-elected.

In addition, the contents of the article are also regulated in Law Article 169 Number 14 of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 7 of 2017 concerning General Elections. However, recently there has been an issue about the three terms of President Joko Widodo’s term of office. The proposal for an additional term of office for the president came to the fore starting in 2014 – 2019 when there was a recommendation from the MPR to amend the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, which limited it to the Outline of State Policy (GBHN).

Based on constitutional principles (constitutionalism) and if the discourse of President Joko Widodo’s term will be heeded, then it is the same as carrying out unconstitutional actions. Whereas the principle of constitutionalism itself includes not only limiting existing powers but also how a government and people carry out the positive obligations of the state (Rudy, 2013). The discourse on the three periods of the president is unconstitutional because it has violated the regulations regarding the term of office regulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia and the requirements to run for president of the Republic of Indonesia in the regulation of Article 169 of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 7 of 2017 concerning General Elections. This has indeed been refuted by President Joko Widodo regarding the discourse of his three-term office, but it still does not rule out the possibility and could potentially continue to be realized in the future.

Therefore, if the discourse of the three periods is realized, from a juridical perspective it has harmed the Indonesian Constitution and regulations under it. Moreover, judging from the perspective of constitutionalism, in understanding the constitution in a unitary state, it is known that there are only three main problems that are regulated in the constitution. First, in the context of the general structure of the state (legislative, executive, judicial). Second, related to the large limits between one power and another. in relation. Third, is the relationship between the government and its people. In line with Ivo D. Duchaek, “identify the sources, purposes, uses and restrains of public power.” It concluded that the constitution identifies all sources, all purposes, uses and how the limitation of power works in general (Asshiddiqie, 2010).

Constitution Amendment Potential (The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia)

The term of office of the President and Vice President according to the provisions of Article 7 of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia is only five years and can be re-elected either in a row or not, but with a limit of two terms. With the discourse on the current presidential term of office for three terms, it is the potential to be heeded by the amendments to the constitution. Quoting George Jellineck’s opinion, which emphasized that there are two ways to change the constitution, firstly changing it in a formal form (verfassungwanderung) which is carried out by means of the provisions of the constitution itself and the second in an informal form (verfassungwandlung) which means that it is carried out with provisions outside the constitution and occurs due to unforeseen circumstances.

The ability to amend the constitution to support the proposed three-term presidential term in a formal form. There are no limitations or problems in affirming the amendments to the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia regarding the term of office of the President and his Deputy. Changes are formally in the hands of the MPR, which contains members of the DPR and DPD. The amendment is very likely to be carried out, apart from the procedure for amending the Constitution, it must go through the stages of proposal, discussion and approval. This requirement can be heeded considering that amendments to the Law are proposed by at least 1/3 of the members of the MPR, the discussion is attended by at least 2/3 of the members and the approval or decision is attended by at least 2/3 or 50 percent of the members plus one member in the session. The members of the MPR are members of the DPR and DPD which have been mentioned in Article 2 of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. All members of the MPR are approximately 711 members, and consist of 575 members of the People’s Representative Council, as well as 136 members of the Regional Representatives Council. In the reign of President Joko Widodo, who controls more or fewer supporters in the DPR with around 471 votes and at least PKS and Democrats are still in the opposition line with a total of 104 votes. So, approximately 80 percent of the votes in the government are supporters of the government of President Joko Widodo. This shows that the discourse on President Joko Widodo’s three periods has the potential to be carried out even though President Joko Widodo himself denies the proposal for a three-term term of office that he will carry because considering that 273 votes for the proposal for changes can get from members, the discussion can be attended at least 474 members, and approval or decision if there are 356 votes.

Constitutionalism Overview

The implication is that our constitution opens a gap in its amendments. Change is needed when there is something important to do for the welfare and benefit of the nation’s life, but if changes are made only because of the interests of a few people, it means that power has been injured and the dignity of the constitution is tarnished. The People’s Consultative Assembly is considered to be able to heed all of this because the contents of its members are as described previously, one example of the changes needed and for the good of the entire Indonesian nation is in Article 1 of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, it is clear that state sovereignty is no longer in the hands of the MPR but in the hands of the people. The article is not only a stanza that the people hold sovereignty but also reflects on current events, including the existing three-period discourse. This somewhat vague provision was a reaction to the assumption that the New Order at that time had used the MPR as a tool of authoritarianism and that was the form of the powerlessness of the People’s Consultative Assembly, which was perhaps even worse, the key to the post-Soeharto amendments. But because of the previously mentioned potential, the abuse of presidential power can happen again because it is supported by the government he currently holds. This discourse of three terms of office is contrary to the spirit of the constitution to limit the power and rotation of the political elite of state leaders, which can harm the leadership regeneration process (Latansa, 2019).

Overview from the principle of constitutionalism that Indonesia has adhered to from the beginning of independence until now, history also proves that the Indonesian people want freedom, justice, and equality. But on the other hand, the existing history also reveals that all the ideals of the nation above are still gripped by deep inequality and persist in the pattern of deifying power, exclusion, especially in the capacity of small groups carried out by the elite to benefit themselves because it is the oligarchy that dominates this country. It is undeniable that the post-Soeharto amendments described earlier are a form of achievement in upholding the common constitution, but over time after the reform era, to be precise during the reign of the current government, little by little the Indonesian constitution or constitutionalism is being undermined and taken over. by the ruler. As stated by Lord Acton an iron law of power, “powers tend to corrupt, absolute powers corrupt absolutely”. That is why power must be limited and constitutionalism is present in the middle of government circles. This understanding is used and should be applied for establishing the Indonesian state itself. Each constitution must have limited power because if there is no constitution, the constitution has lost its constitutionalist spirit which in the end will only become legitimacy for that country (Indonesia) which has no limits. Thus, if detailed restrictions on power have been realized in a country, it becomes clear from these details which are the powers of the rulers and where are the rights of the people as well. Because the constitution regulates the rule of law to the individual and the government.

To conclude, the discourse on the three terms of President Joko Widodo’s term of office that has surfaced, although in terms of formal changes, can be carried out by the supporting political elites who are currently occupying most of the seats as supporters of constitutional changes (the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia) to propose, discuss, and the approval of the amendment is still part of an unconstitutional act because it is contrary to the existing constitution and the laws and regulations under it (the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia and Law No. 7 of 2017 concerning Elections) which also if viewed from the perspective of constitutionalism does not reflect the ideals of a nation from the beginning of Indonesia’s independence itself. Amendments are indeed required when there is a necessity to follow the demands of the times, considering the absolute aspect of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. The discourse on a three periods term of office is also considered to be disrespectful to the mandate of reform related to the limitation of power because of the actions of the New Order government, whose rulers were very corrupt in power. Therefore, in order to maintain the dignity of the constitution and the spirit of constitutionalism in the discourse about the addition of a term of President Joko Widodo are not heeded for the parameters of the term of office that have been regulated in existing provisions and regenerate the existing leadership in Indonesia to produce new leaders. what might be good potential is thought, expertise that is no less good and great than the leader who is currently in office.

Faiha Oktrina is Vice Governor of Student Executive Board 2022/2023 from Faculty of Law University of Bengkulu. She was one of delegate Phillip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition at Global Round which now focus at writing and mooting realm.

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Southeast Asia

Will Indonesia Repeat the History of Population Mobility in Borneo?



Borneo is now in the spotlight due to the Indonesian government’s impending massive migration. Since the Indonesian government announced capital relocation plans in 2019, many people have been concerned about their mobility in Borneo. Thousands of civil servants and their families will be relocated to East Kalimantan in the first phase of this massive mobility. This mobility necessitates significant resources, both financial and in-depth consideration because people’s mobility is never an easy problem.

Population mobility in Indonesia is not a new phenomenon, according to historical sequences. Patterns and causes such as poverty, inequality, the role of government, the importance of relationships, and gender disparities all have an impact on this activity. The manifestation of success mobility in society is related to how this aspect is manifested. Furthermore, most people associate mobility with inequality. Individuals and communities are forced to relocate from their homes to places where they can find work or where they are ‘pushed’ to work as a result of inequality. As a result, most population mobility occurs voluntarily in search of a better life. However, in the context of capital relocation, the situation is quite different. People are heavily influenced by the context and location of the receiving area, particularly its political, economic, and socio-cultural aspects, as well as its historical context when they mobilize.

Population Mobility in Indonesian History

The Indonesian government declares transmigration as one of the population distribution policy instruments. Transmigration is regarded as one of the instruments of government policy that can help promote public welfare. Transmigration is another kind of population integration required to support national development. History recounts that transmigration in Indonesia began with the Dutch occupation, specifically during the situation of Indonesian politics in 1905. The government’s worry prompted the start of transmigration in Indonesia. The Dutch colonials observed the island of Java’s high population density.

During the New Order era, Kalimantan was the site of a massive project known as “transmigration.” This project aimed to relocate people from overpopulated islands in order to balance demographic development. Java, Indonesia’s main island, was home to more than 70% of the country’s population. Over the course of two decades, 170 million people from Java, Madura, Lombok, and Bali were relocated. Transmigration has a long history; it began in 1950, replicating a Dutch colonial government program, and was later continued by the Indonesian government after 1945, the year of independence. Previously, transmigration served three purposes: (1) to relocate millions of people from the most densely populated islands such as Java, Bali, and Madura to less densely populated islands, (2) to alleviate poverty by providing land and employment opportunities for Indonesians, and (3) to find other resources in those less densely populated islands. However, this program appears to be a failure. The findings are also supported by the report from Forest Peoples Programme which stated that the transmigration process in the “outer islands,” particularly in Kalimantan, has triggered conflict between transmigrants and indigenous people. The native or indigenous people claimed that the national government provides them with limited access, in contrast to the transmigrants. On the other hand, indigenous people appear to have lacked the adequate infrastructure to support their lives (such as roads, health facilities, schools, etc). On the other hand, land ownership status became very important because indigenous people felt that their indigenous government did not give them their rights and land certificate despite having legal evidence of their land. More than 60% of Kalimantan’s rainforests have been cut down for the transmigration program, causing indigenous people to lose their homes and food sources. Without a doubt, the goal of transmigration threatens the lives of indigenous people. Transmigration enabled landless peasants and homeless people from urban Java to escape. However, by doing so, they destroyed the forest and contributed to environmental degradation in Kalimantan. It can be assumed that the transmigration program has so far failed to alleviate population pressure and poverty in Java. There is opposition to the transmigration program because indigenous people believe it violates their rights. According to the migrants, the transmigration program was only about political tools and power.    

The Foresight of Population and Labour Mobility in Borneo

Like the first population mobility in the 1905s, the Indonesian government’s plan to relocate the capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan has many advantages and disadvantages today. Indigenous peoples, environmental activists, and social scientists are all concerned about the massive plan to transform 200,000 hectares of forest into the country’s new administrative headquarters. This project adds to the existing mining, logging, and oil palm plantation concessions, all of which have had a significant impact on Borneo’s rainforests and forest-dependent communities.

The relocation of the capital could have serious social and economic ramifications for millions of people, particularly Jakarta workers. They don’t know what will happen to them in Kalimantan. Despite the fact that thousands of civil servants and their families will be relocated to East Kalimantan in the first phase of this massive mobility, productive industries that support workers’ lives, such as food and beverage, education, and health services, must not be overlooked in this action. Talking about productive industries entails discussing the labor that went into them. Once they have relocated to a new capital, they should be able to find work or start a new small business. The Indonesian government has not yet prepared for this. Baumann (2016) stated in her book “The Debate about the Consequences of Job Displacement” that workers who have recently relocated to another area (in this case, new capital) are more likely to lose their jobs simply because they have recently begun a new job. These new employment relationships are insecure because they are frequently mismatched and more likely to be terminated prematurely.

To summarize, population mobility is frequently used as a short-term coping strategy rather than an anticipatory adaptation strategy, especially for individuals or households lacking the economic and social capital to relocate. It may also make those moving to new capital more vulnerable. As a result of these factors, the government should devise creative solutions and adequate plans for the people, especially workers. To avoid repeating history and to create a vibrant place in new capital, the government should work with the private sector, civil society organizations, local communities, and academics to develop sustainable infrastructure and basic services, as well as social protection and income-generating opportunities. Finally, massive mobility in Borneo necessitated a more thorough understanding of the need for multi-sectoral and inclusive policies and measures that combined research, planning, design, and capacity building, with a particular emphasis on workers.

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Southeast Asia

Reclaiming our future



The Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads today – to further breakdown or breakthrough to a greener, better, safer future.

Since the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was established in 1947, the region has made extraordinary progress, emerging as a pacesetter of global economic growth that has lifted millions out of poverty.

Yet, as ESCAP celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, we find ourselves facing our biggest shared test on the back of cascading and overlapping impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, raging conflicts and the climate crisis.  

Few have escaped the effects of the pandemic, with 85 million people pushed back into extreme poverty, millions more losing their jobs or livelihoods, and a generation of children and young people missing precious time for education and training.

As the pandemic surges and ebbs across countries, the world continues to face the grim implications of failing to keep the temperature increase below 1.5°C – and of continuing to degrade the natural environment. Throughout 2021 and 2022, countries across Asia and the Pacific were again battered by a relentless sequence of natural disasters, with climate change increasing their frequency and intensity.

More recently, the rapidly evolving crisis in Ukraine will have wide-ranging socioeconomic impacts, with higher prices for fuel and food increasing food insecurity and hunger across the region.

Rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has come at a heavy price, and the convergence of these three crises have exposed the fault lines in a very short time. Unfortunately, those hardest hit are those with the fewest resources to endure the hardship. This disproportionate pressure on the poor and most vulnerable is deepening and widening inequalities in both income and opportunities.

The situation is critical. Many communities are close to tipping points beyond which it will be impossible to recover. But it is not too late.

The region is dynamic and adaptable.

In this richer yet riskier world, we need more crisis-prepared policies to protect our most vulnerable populations and shift the Asia-Pacific region back on course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as the target year of 2030 comes closer — our analysis shows that we are already 35 years behind and will only attain the Goals in 2065.

To do so, we must protect people and the planet, exploit digital opportunities, trade and invest together, raise financial resources and manage our debt.

The first task for governments must be to defend the most vulnerable groups – by strengthening health and universal social protection systems. At the same time, governments, civil society and the private sector should be acting to conserve our precious planet and mitigate and adapt to climate change while defending people from the devastation of natural disasters.

For many measures, governments can exploit technological innovations. Human activities are steadily becoming “digital by default.” To turn the digital divide into a digital dividend, governments should encourage more robust and extensive digital infrastructure and improve access along with the necessary education and training to enhance knowledge-intensive internet use.

Much of the investment for services will rely on sustainable economic growth, fueled by equitable international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). The region is now the largest source and recipient of global FDI flows, which is especially important in a pandemic recovery environment of fiscal tightness.

While trade links have evolved into a complex noodle bowl of bilateral and regional agreements, there is ample scope to further lower trade and investment transaction costs through simplified procedures, digitalization and climate-smart strategies. Such changes are proving to be profitable business strategies. For example, full digital facilitation could cut average trade costs by more than 13 per cent.

Governments can create sufficient fiscal space to allow for greater investment in sustainable development. Additional financial resources can be raised through progressive tax reforms, innovative financing instruments and more effective debt management. Instruments such as green bonds or sustainability bonds, and arranging debt swaps for development, could have the highest impacts on inclusivity and sustainability.

Significant efforts need to be made to anticipate what lies ahead. In everything we do, we must listen to and work with both young and old, fostering intergenerational solidarity. And women must be at the centre of crisis-prepared policy action.

This week the Commission is expected to agree on a common agenda for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, pinning the aspirations of the region on moving forward together by learning from and working with each other.

In the past seven-and-a-half decades, ESCAP has been a vital source of know-how and support for the governments and peoples of Asia and the Pacific. We remain ready to serve in the implementation of this common agenda.

To quote United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “the choices we make, or fail to make today, will shape our future. We will not have this chance again.”

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Southeast Asia

Return of the Marcos and Great-Power Competition



PNA photo by Joey O. Razon

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., more commonly known as “Bongbong,” won an outright majority in the recent presidential election in the Philippines. Son and name-bearer of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos paved the way for the country’s most notorious political dynasty’s shocking return to power. In the words of Filipino columnist Benjamin Pimentel, “It’s as if Kylo Ren emerged and the Empire is back in power.”

In announcing his desire to work for all people, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the world should judge him based on his presidency, not his family’s past.

“To those who voted for Bongbong, and those who did not, it is his promise to be a president for all Filipinos. To seek common ground across political divides, and to work together to unite the nation.” saidVictor Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos, in a statement.

However, the pragmatic words seem to have failed to sway the opposition as he faces countless accusations of election irregularities. Their opponents are horrified by Marcos’ brazen attempt to reinvent historical narratives from his family’s era in power. A protest against Marcos was staged by approximately 400 people outside the election commission on 10th May, primarily by students.

Human rights group Karapatan urged Filipinos to reject Marcos’ new presidency, which it sees as a product of lies and disinformation designed “to deodorise the Marcoses’ detestable image”.

HISTORY OF MARCOS: People Power” Uprising

Ferdinand Marcos Jr is not a new name in the Philippines’ political scenario. The “bloodless revolution” of 1986 in the Philippines that ousted the infamous dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was none other than Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s father.

The world leaders at the time praised the mass demonstration after hundreds of thousands marched along EDSA streets to protest a fraudulent election. Through the People Power” Uprising, Filipinos proved that a peaceful uprising can challenge a ruthless dictatorship and overthrow military rule.

Marcos Jr and his family escaped to Hawaii following the rebellion and after his return to the Philippines in 1991, Marcos Jr served in congress and the senate. With his return to the Malacañang Palace in 2022, the world anxiously watches whether history will repeat itself or democracy will prevail as Marcos Jr. relentlessly defends his father’s legacy, refusing to apologise or acknowledge the atrocities, plunder, cronyism, and extravagant living, which resulted in billions of dollars of state wealth disappearing during the dictatorship.

MARCOS JR’S FOREIGN POLICY: Continuity or Change?

Considering his political alignment with Rodrigo Duterte, the outgoing President, who has been exceedingly vocal about his anti-Washington, pro-China stance, it is no secret Marcos Jr. favours Beijing. According to Richard Heydarian, a South China Sea observer and professor of political science, “Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. is the only candidate who has signalled almost perfect continuity with the incumbent populist pro-China president in Malacañang.”

However, Marcos Jr seems to be a President that might play the game more strategically compared to his successor. Among Marcos’s many accolades for his father, one was maintaining a strong security alliance with Washington. Even though, he is politically aligned with Duterte who sought to pivot away from the United States and towards China, Marcos will seek a balancing act. Philippines under Marcos will continue engaging with China, in-line with Duterte’s Pro-China Policy but at the same time will engage, and even bolster a closer tie with the USA, to safeguard Philippines’ sovereignty amidst an aggressively rising China.

When asked if he would ask the American’s help in dealing with China, Marcos Jr said, “No. The problem is between China and us. If the Americans come in, it’s bound to fail because you are putting the two protagonists together.” This statement shows a sense of maturity and solid understanding of the ground realties of the region. Marcos Jr. seems to be the President that keeps his country’s national interest at the very core of all his decisions. He understands how easy it is for a small country to be stuck in the middle of a great-power competition, and that more often and not, it harms the small country’s interests. He envisions Manila as neither heavily dependent on Washington for its security needs nor become a pawn in China’s greater geopolitical ambitions. He wants to have an independent foreign policy, regardless of deepening U.S.-Chinese competition. One that predominantly benefits his country, Philippines.

In contrast to Duterte, Marcos Jr has a very warm and embracing approach towards the USA. Being treaty allies, Marcos Jr refers to their alliance as “a very important one.” He maintained that the alliance “has stood us in good stead for over a hundred years and that will never disappear from the Philippine psyche, the idea and the memory of what the United States did for us and fought with us in the last war.”

Marcos Jr seems to be a realist who understands that in International Politics, states must “engage whenever possible, and contain wherever necessary.” On asked about Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, he argued that “Philippines will not cede any one square inch to any country, particularly China, but will continue to engage and work on our national interest.”

To summarise, Marcos will, in all probability, modify Duterte’s foreign policy in a way that maximizes the strategic benefits for the Philippines and avoids confrontation with the USA and China.

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