Skip Navigation
Online Bookstore Book Supplements Newsletter Subscription For Academics For Bookshops For Authors About Us Journals Holt Prize


Australian Journal of Asian Law

Abstract from Volume 10 No 2 (2008)

Parties and Decision-making in the Indonesian Parliament: A Case Study of RUU APP, the Anti-Pornography Bill

Stephen Sherlock, MA 1984 (Syd), PhD 1991 (Syd), is an independent political analyst and institutional development consultant based in Jakarta and Canberra.

The draft legislation on the control of pornography generated more controversy than any other bill in post-Soeharto Indonesia. The bill stirred up feelings about issues that go to the heart of the implicit compact between the various cultural streams in Indonesian society that has underpinned the state since independence. It appeared at a time of rising controversy about apparent efforts to legislate sharia-based norms. This article argues that the bill was passed, not because of a strong commitment to its contents by the majority of the parliament (DPR), but because of problems with the decision-making processes within the DPR and poor communication between DPR members and their political parties. The bill reached an advanced stage of the internal processes of the DPR long before its implications had been properly considered by the members of the relevant DPR committee, or their political parties, and without sufficient public consultations having occurred. Insufficient capacity to scrutinise bills from the perspective of both good policy and good drafting can mean that bills are drafted by outside interests in an ad hoc and unrepresentative manner. So-called ‘consensus’ decisionmaking then creates pressures on parties to agree to poor quality bills becoming official documents of the DPR. Had the bill been canvassed amongst a wider range of public opinion at an early stage of drafting and been subjected to more thorough discussion at the committee stage, it would probably never have become the subject of such divisive and potentially damaging controversy.

(2008) 10(2) Asian Law 159

        BACK TO TOP