Council urges autonomy status for municipalities

Oleh: Adianto P. Simamora

Headline News - February 27, 2006

Jakarta's Regional Representatives Council is urging the central government to give the city's five municipalities political autonomy, a move that would pave the way for residents to vote directly for mayors.

Council member Biem Benjamin said the dual status of Jakarta as a province and the state capital made the city less democratic because residents could not directly elect their governor and mayors like in other regions.

"Autonomy in Jakarta must be implemented on both the provincial and municipal levels," Biem said.

As the nation's center of government, the province has been granted special autonomy status.

However, the city's five municipalities -- of Central, North, West, South and East Jakarta, the latter including Kepulauan Seribu regency -- are not autonomous regions.

Biem said that under regional autonomy, the Jakarta governor, vice governor, mayors and their deputies, along with members of the five cities' legislative bodies, should be elected in a direct system.

Council member Marwan Batubara said granting smaller autonomous status to Jakarta's five municipalities was in line with the Constitution.

"Our Constitution in Article 18 clearly stipulates that provinces consist of autonomous regions," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

"We will include the autonomy issue in our revised bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration next week," he said.

The House working committee is now deliberating the revision of 1999 Law on the Jakarta Administration.

The priority issues in the bill are Jakarta's autonomy status, administration structure and the "megalopolitan" concept.

At least three drafts made by the committee, the city administration and the city council are likely to complicate the deliberation of the bill.

The draft from the legislature and government will stipulate that the autonomous status cannot be extended to the level of municipalities, citing the 2004 Regional Autonomy Law. The draft from the House committee, meanwhile, does not specify the autonomy issue.

Other drafts from the House committee and the legislature allow for the direct election of governor and deputy governor.

Jakarta is scheduled to hold its first gubernatorial election in 2007.

Marwan said the bill had to be passed into law by the end of July to give the central government enough time to issue supporting decrees.

"We must have the new law, as well as a presidential decree on gubernatorial elections, by the end of this year," he said.

The Jakata chapter of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has already begun the search for candidates to contest the coming election.

Meanwhile, the House committee and council have separately held brainstorming sessions, inviting urban and spatial planning experts to provide input on the much-debated megalopolitan concept.

Under the concept, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi and Cianjur would be incorporated into Jakarta, in an area called "Jabodetabekjur".

Tangerang is part of Banten province, while the four other cities are located in West Java.

However, there has been resistance from the five cities and regencies that would be affected by the plan because of fears they would lose their jurisdictional powers to Jakarta.

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso has thrown his weight behind the megalopolitan concept, which he sees as a way to resolve many of the long-standing problems in the capital.

The Jakarta Post

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Council urges autonomy status for municipalities

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