The government of Indonesia is based on a constitution that was
written in 1945. The Indonesian Constitution of 1945 instituted a
presidential system of government in the republic. Another
constitution, providing for a parliamentary form of government,
was unsuccessfully attempted between 1949 and 1959, after which
there was a return to the 1945 constitution.
The president is head of state, head of government, and commander
in chief of the armed forces. He also has emergency powers to
enact decrees that can serve as law. The president appoints a
cabinet of advisers consisting of top military leaders and
The legislature is called the People’s Consultative Assembly.
The powers of the legislature has been restricted in recent years.
The president is elected to a five-year term by this PCA. A House
of People’s Representatives is the nation’s parliament.
1. The People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis
2. The Presidency.
3. The House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat).
4. The Supreme Advisory Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung).
5. The State Audit Board (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan).
6. The Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung).
Article I of the 1945 Constitution states that
Indonesia is a republic with sovereignty vested in the people to
be fully exercised by an elected People's Consultative Assembly,
which is the highest political institution in the state. Since the
Assembly holds the supremi power in the state, the people voice
their political and social aspira tions through this body.
The major tasks of the Assembly are to sanction the Constitution
decide the Guidelines of State Policy, and elect the President and
Vice-President for a term of office of five years.
In relation to the Assembly, the President is its Mandatary and as
such, is accountable to the Assembly for the conduct of govern
ment. In the exercise of his duties, the President is assisted by
The membership of the assembly's consists of the House member and
augmented by delegates of regions and groupings. The tota number
of MPR members is 700 comprising of 500 DPR members 135 delegates
of regions (five persons from each level I region) and 61
delegates of groupings.
Based on Decree No. VII/MPR/1998, the Chairman of the People'
Consultative Assembly separates from Chairman of the House of
Representatives. He is assisted by five Vice-Chairmen. The
electiol of the Assembly's chairman is by consensus among members.
Wher this is imnossiblp voting maybe resorted to as provided for
by the 1945 Constitution.
In the government system of Indonesia, the
President is both head of state and chief executive. He holds
office for a term of five years and is eligible for re-election.
Since the President is also the Mandala of the People's
Consultative Assembly, he must execute his duties in compliance
with the Guidelines of State Policy as decreed by the Assembly.
The structure and organization of governmental
departments are uniform, as provided for in Presidential Decision
No. 44 of 1974. This
requires that a government department shall consist of four
1. The leadership, which is in the hands of the minister
2. The administrative services headed by a secretary-general
3. The operational services, each headed by a
4. The institutional control, to be exercised by an
As time has passed, the various government
departments have expanded in size and responsibilities to
accommodate the rising demands public administration. Hence, a
fifth component has been added, namely, a research and development
division whose head has the same rank as the other
All these executives are appointed and dismissed by the President
on the recommendation of the minister. In the exercise of their
duties, however, they are answerable to the minister. They are
guided by the principles of coordination, integration and
synchronization within their own department as well as in relation
to other departments and institutions.
The secretariat-general is divided into bureaus with a maximum
number of five. Each directorate-general is divided into
directorates numbering no more than five, and the
inspectorate-general is divided into inspectorates, also numbering
five at most. The research and development division may have a
number of centers, each with a specific task in research and
development to meet the growing requirements of the
The total membership of the House of
Representatives is 500. It is composed of:
a. 462 members representing the political organizations that take
part in the general election, i.e.:
b. 38 members appointed from the Armed Forces.
To determine the number of the elected members in the House, the
following procedure applies. Each elected member represents at
least 400,000 citizens. Hence, if the population is estimated at
209,389,000 people, the total number of elected members is 425.
(The General Elections Institute).
During general elections the provinces form constituencies and are
entitled to representation by elected members, the number being
derived from the division of the provincial population by 400,000.
Provinces with very small populations are represented by a number
of elected members not less than the number of districts in the
province and each district shall have not less than one
Deliberations are held in the House to reach a
consensus (mufakat) on any question. In the event a consensus is
not achieved, the matter is referred to the Steering Committee.
Should this Committee arrive at a consensus, all members will be
duly informed. In case of failure, the matter is submitted to the
plenary session of the House, which must then decide whether the
matter is to be put to a vote. postponed or dropped
Voting requires the presence of all factions and a quorum of
two-thirds of the total membership of the house. Resolutions or
decisions are adopted by majority votes. Voting on nominations and
appointments is done by secret ballot: on any other matters, by a
show of hands. If a vote cannot be accomplished because a
two-third's quorum cannot be reached or because all factions are
not present, the matter is returned to the Steering
The annual session of the House starts on August 16 and ends on
August 15 of the following year. Each session is divided into
with intervals for recesses.
At the opening of each annual session of the House, the President
delivers his address of state. This is always on August 16. the
day before Indonesia's independence day commemoration. In the
address the President reviews the developments of the past year
and outlines the prospects for the coming year.
Law Making Process
The 1945 Constitution states that the House of Representatives is
the body of the State. The Government submits bills to the House
for consideration and approval, but members of the House can
initiate their own bills. Such bills must be accompanied by an
explanatory memorandum, signed by at least 30 members, and
submitted to the Speaker of the House. During the discussion of
the proposed bill. the initiating members may make alterations or
If the House passes the bill. it will become law when it has
obtained the signature of the President. By authority of the
President, the Minister/State Secretary will publish the Act in
the State Gazette of the Republic of Indonesia and henceforth the
Act comes into force.
Following Article 16 of the 1945 Constitution and
Act No. 3 of 1967 as amended by Act No. 4 of 1978. the functions
of the Supreme Advisory Council are to answer any questions that
the President may ask in relation to the affairs of the State,
including questions on political. economic, socio-cultural and
military affairs. Conversely, the Council may submit
recommendations or express its views on any matter of national
Members of the Council are nominated by the House and appointed by
the President for a term of five years. Certain set conditions
must be met to qualify for appointments.
The Council is headed by a Chairman and has four Vice Chairmen and
45 members. The permanent committees of the Council are:
1. The political committee.
2. The economic, financial and industrial committee.
3. The committee on people's welfare.
4. The committee on defense and security.
There are three types of law in Indonesia. One follow the Dutch
legal system. Islamic law applies to Muslims. "Adat" or
customary law, is applied mainly in local disputes. Indonesia’s
highest court is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the final
court of appeal. Other courts include High Courts and District
Courts. The Central Government appoints judges. There are no
juries. Special religious courts handle such personal matters as
divorces and inheritances.
The Supreme Court is the judicial arm of the State
and exists beside the legislative and the executive branches. It
enjoys an independent status in the socio-political fabric. It was
not until 1968 that the restructuring of the Supreme Court was
completed to meet the conditions set out in the 1945 Constitution,
i.e., to be free from government intervention in the exercise of
justice. In 1970 a law was enacted that laid down the basic
principle of Indonesia's judicial powers.
The State Audit Board
The functions of the State Audit Board are outlined in Article 23
of the 1945 Constitution. Its main function is to conduct official
examinations of government financial accounts. The findings of the
Board are submitted to the House of Representatives, which
approves the government budget. In his annual state address on
August 16, the President reports to the House on the Government's
performance during the past fiscal year. Detailed accounts of
government revenues and expenditures and a full report on the
progress achieved in development and administration, are recounted
in the supplement to the presidential speech.
The Government Apparatus
A major concern of the Government has been the creation of an
efficient, clean and respectable administration on national and
regional level. This is understandable considering that the
progress achieved in national development has created considerable
expansion in government activities and responsibilities, and
pressing public demands for continuous improvements and
streamlining of routine and more often of development
Government regulations that prove to be unnecessary red tape have
been abolished by deregulation and debureaucratization. However,
administrative reform that will achieve the ideal results is a
long and painstaking effort. Thus, preventive and repressive
actions have been and will continue to be taken until abuse of
authority and malpractice on the part of the state apparatus are
reduced to a minimum or. hopefully, eliminated.
The structure and organization of local
governments follow the pattern of the national government. On the
national level, .the President is the Chief Executive and works
with a cabinet of ministers. Next to the national executive is the
House of Representatives, with whom the government enacts laws and
determines the national
Similarly, the Governor is the Chief Executive in the province and
works with a staff of regional officials. Side by side is the
provincial legislative, with whom the regional government concurs
on regional legislation and decisions on the budget.
On the district (Kabupaten) and municipal (Kotamadya) levels, the
Chief Executives are respectively, the Bupati (district head) and
Walikota kodya (mayor). Again, the Bupati/Walikota kodya concurs
with the local legislative on matters relating to local government
regulation and the budget. Both provincial and district
governments are granted autonomy.
Where the President is the Head of State, the Governor is the Head
of the Province and concurrently represents the Central Government
in his region. Similarly, the Bupati/Walikota kodya is the Head of
the Kabupaten/kotamadya and concurrently represents the Governor
in his district/municipality.
The procedure of appointing a governor is as follows: The
provincial legislature elects two or three candidates. The
election result is reported to the national government, via the
Minister of Home Affairs. The winning candidate is then appointed
Governor by the President on the recommendation of the
In a similar way, the Kabupaten/kotamadya legislature elects two
or three candidates to be proposed to the Minister of Home
Affairs. One of these then is appointed Bupati/Walikota kodya, by
the Minister on the recommendation of the Governor.
Below the district municipal level the administrative units are
not autonomous. These are the Kecamatan, or Sub-District
Administrations and the Kelurahan, or the Village Administrations.
The Kecamatan is an administrative sub-division of the Kabupaten
or Kotamadya. It is headed by a Camat. The Kecamatan office is in
charge of the administration of the sub-district, social welfare
and economic affairs. Some national government departments have
branches in the
The system of village administration is not much different from
that of the Kecamatan. The Lurah, who heads the kelurahan, is
assisted by a secretary and section heads. Unlike the Kecamatan,
however, national government departments do not have branch
offices in a Kelurahan. Both the Camat and the Lurah are civil
servants appointed on merit from the ranks of local government
In the Desa, or village, the administrative system is somewhat
different. The village head, is elected by the village's adult
population. The elected candidate is then appointed by the Bupati
on behalf of the governor. In the office of the village head there
is a secretary and several section heads. A unique feature of
village life is the Village Council of Elders, which is composed
of 9 to 15 prominent village leaders. The Council makes decisions
in concurrence with the village head. In fact, this grass-roots
level administration of the village, with its indigenous system of
democracy and mutual help, was the inspiration of the founding
fathers of the Republic when they decided on the government as
laid down in Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.
The "Lembaga Ketahanan Masyarakat Desa" is a village
organization whose task is to promote socio-economic conditions so
that the village becomes a viable rural community. The
organization is headed by the Village Head or Lurah who is
assisted by a secretary. Other members of the organization are
drawn from the village community.
Community living is fostered by two neighborhood organizations.
"The Rukun Tetangga" takes care of social and
administrative matters of a neighborhood, such as the registration
of families, security, garbage collection, etc. "The Rukun
Warga" is the coordinating organization of a number of Rukun
Tetangga. Both these organizations are voluntary and non-formal
and mainly designed to assist in the work of Lurah/village
The budget for regional administration and development is composed
of the following:
a. Budget allocation from the Central Government to Local
b. Central Government grants to Local Governments.
c. Taxes collected by Local Governments with the approval of the
d. Corporate profits of Local Government enterprises.
e. Credits secured by Local Governments.
Administrative Division Regions
The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia is divided into 27
provinces which are sub-divided into 243 districts, 55
municipalities.16 admin'strative unicipalities, 35 administrative
cities, and 3,841 sub-distr";ts or kecamatans.
Three of the provinces are special territories, namely the Capital
City of Jakarta, the Special Territory of Yogyakarta, and the
Special Territory of Aceh. Villages are classified into desas or
rural villages and kelurahans or urban villages. The head of a
desa, is elected by the village community, whereas the head of a
kelurahan which is called lurah, is a civil servant appointed by a
camat or head of a subdistrict on behalf of the governor.
The Principles of the Foreign Policy
The principles underlying Indonesia's foreign policy were
expounded for the first time by Mohammad Hatta on September 2,
1948 at Yogyakarta in Central Java.
In a session of the Working Group of the Central National
Committee of Indonesia (KNPI), the forerunner of the Indonesian
Parliament, Vice-President Hatta, concurrently Prime Minister and
Minister of Defense of the young Republic, clarified the
Government's stand on various domestic and international issues.
Refuting the premise of the People's Democratic Front of the
Indonesian Communist Party, that in the Cold War between Russia
and America the best foreign policy for Indonesia would be to side
with Russia, Hatta stated: "Do we, Indonesians, in the
struggle for the freedom of our people and our country, only have
to choose between Russia and America? Is not there any other stand
that we can take in the pursuit of our ideals?"
"The Government is of the firm opinion that the best policy
to adopt is one which does not make us the object of an
international conflict. On the contrary, we must remain the
subject who reserves the right to decide our own destiny and fight
for our own goal, which is independence for the whole of
Indonesia." (Mohammad Hatta, "MendayungAntara Dua
The above statement was an indication of the policy Indonesia
would take in international relations, which later became known as
"mendayung antara dua karang" (rowing between two
The Independent and Active Foreign Policy
These principles are the foundation of Indonesia's foreign policy,
which is independent and active.
The policy is independent because Indonesia does not side with
world powers. As a matter of principle, so doing would be
incompatible with the country's national philosophy and identity
as implied in Pancasila.
The foreign policy is active to the extent that Indonesia does not
maintain a passive or reactive stand on international issues but
seeks active participation in their settlement. In other words,
Indonesia's independent and active policy is not a neutral policy,
but it is one that does not align Indonesia with the super powers
nor does it bind the country to any military pact. Essentially, it
is a policy designed to serve the national interest while
simultaneously allowing Indonesia to cooperate with other nations
to abolish colonialism and imperialism in all their forms and
manifestations for the sake of world peace and social justice.
This explains why Indonesia was one of the founding members of the
The Primary Objectives
Any country's foreign policy is a reflection of its national
aspirations vis-a-vis the rest of the world. It is a component of
the country's geopolitical strategy. Based on these premises, the
primary objectives of Indonesia's foreign policy are:
a. To support the national development with priority on economic
development, as set out in the Five-Year Development Plans:
b. To preserve internal and regional stability conducive to
c. To protect the territorial integrity of Indonesia and safeguard
the people's place of abode.
In compliance with the development and fast change
in international constellation after the cold war, and in
accordance with the recommendation of the 1993 Vienna Declaration
and Action Programs, and also the outcome of the Second National
Workshop on Human rights, organized by the Indonesian Government,
the National Commission on Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) and the
United Nations in 1994, Indonesia has produced the National Action
Plan for (RAN-HAM) for 1998 to 2003. The action plan was designed
by the Inter-Ministerial Permanent Committee on Human Rights,
established in 1991, together with KOMNAS-HAM, with the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs as the focal-point. Its activities focus on
four main pillars, namely: (1) Ratification of international
instruments in the field of Human Rights; (2) Dissemination and
education of Human Rights; (3) The Human Rights problems which
have been given priority to be solved, especially the problems
relating to non-derogable rights, the violation of which could
ruin the national image easily: (4) The implementation of the
ratified international Human Rights Conventions.
President Habibie, in line with the serious efforts of the
Government to advance and protect Human Rights officially,
proclaimed RAN-HAM on June 25, 1998. RAN-HAM contains the real
steps for the furtherance and observance of Human Rights
implemented on the national level for the period of 5 (five)
years. Then RAN-HAM was installed by Presidential Decree No. 129
on August 15, 1998 and the National Committee of RAN-HAM was
formed to carry out the RAN-HAM programs.
In accordance with the first pillar of the National Plan for Human
Rights in Indonesia, ratified the convention against tortures and
other treatments or and punishments which are cruel, inhumane or
perogatory to the human dignity by Law No. 5 on September 28,
1998. On April 16, 1999 the Plenary Session of the House of
Representatives approved the Bill for the ratification of the
convention for eradication of all kinds of racial discrimination
which is awaiting Presidential approval. At the moment preparation
is underway for the ratification of the international convention
concerning economic, social, and cultural rights. Relating to
reporting, the Government has formed a Task Force. Its first duty
is prepare a report on the convention against cortures, which to
be conveyed to the Committee of Anti -Torture on November 26,
In the framework of implementing the RAM-HAM, Indonesia has signed
a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Project Document
concerning Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights with
the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (KTHAM-PBB), on August
13, 1998 and March 4, 1999 respectively. Indonesia has also
accepted an offer of technical cooperation in the field of Human
Rights from foreign countries, among others Australia, Sweden,
Canada and Norway.
In the field of Manpower, in 1998 Indonesia ratified ILO
Convention No. 87 concerning the Freedom of association and
protection for rights to establish organization, with Presidential
Decision No. 83 on June 5, 1998. In 1999, Indonesia ratified three
other ILO conventions, namely: ILO Convention number 105 on
Abolition of Servitude: ILO Convention number 138 on Minimum Wage:
and ILO Convention number III on Abolition of Job
Indonesia's struggle for international recognition
on archipelagic concept has succeeded by the acceptance and
incorporation of the Archipelagic State principle in Chapter IV of
UN Convention concerning Law of the Sea of 1982. However,
Indonesia has to consider and recognize the rights of other
states, especially for the passage of military ships/sea fleet
through Indonesian waters, particularly through the regions which
are usually used for international shipping. This concession is
given by an archipelagic state in the form of archipelagic sea
lanes as mentioned in Article 53 of the Convention.
To comply with the above stipulation through the International
Maritime Organization situated in London, has Indonesia proposed
sea lanes of the Indonesia archipelago consisting of three
NorthSouth ALKI, namely ALKI I, ALKJ II and ALKI III which in the
southern part have three branches, namely ALKI III-A, III-B and
The archipelagic sea lanes passing through the Indonesian sea
ALKI I : Sunda Strait-Karimata Strait-Natuna Sea-South China
ALKI II : Lombok Strait-Makasar Strait-Sulawesi Sea.
ALKI III-A : Sawu Sea-Ombai Strait-Banda Sea (Western part of Buru
lsland)-Seram Sea (Eastern part of Mongole 1sland)-Maluku
ALKI III-B : Timor Sea-Leti Strait-Banda Sea (Western part of Buru
lsland)-Seram Sea (Eastern part of Mongole Island) -Maluku
ALKI III-C : Arafuru Sea-Banda Sea (Western part of Buru
lsland)-Seram Sea (Eastern part of Mongole Island)-Maluku
The background of the proposal of the three ALKIs is based on the
consideration of various sectoral interest as well as defense and
security, hydro-oceanographic and natural aspects of each ALKI;
the problems of marine environment and marine conservation areas,
exploration and natural resources exploitation (oil and gas), fish
catching: the importance and safety of national shipping and
aviation; the existence of submarine pipes and cables; and the
importance of international marine traffics through the Indonesian
In the effort to establish ALKI, Indonesia has held a series of
informal meetings with several big countries that use the
archipelagic sea lanes in the Indonesian territorial waters, such
as the United States of America. Australia, Japan and England. In
accordance with the results of the meetings, in 1995, the
Indonesian government approached the International Organization
concerned, namely IMO. Based on IMO suggestion, the Indonesian
government then approached the International Hydrographic
Organization (IHO) to discuss ALKI symbols that would be used in
the shipping map.
On national level, the Indonesian government has also done a
series of important activities, among others establishing the
starting lines of the Indonesian archipelago and the coordinates
of the three ALKI's. Considering that ALKI must be established in
the territorial waters of the archipelago, the Indonesian
government has readjusted its archipelagic starting lines in the
Natuna Sea that is passed by ALKI-I by incorporating a half of the
Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE) in that area as archipelagic
territorial waters. The readjustment of the starting lines in the
Natuna Sea is enacted by Government Regulation No 61/1998 and has
been translated into English and submitted to IMO.
In compliance with the results of meeting and approaches and the
series of activities to prepare a proposal plan for the
establishment of the starting lines, on August 30. 1996, the
Indonesian government officially submitted the proposal for the
establishment of the three ALKIs to be discussed in the 67'h
meeting of Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) - IMO in 1996.
After long discussion and debate with the main user countries of
ALKI. namely the United States of America. Australia. Japan and
England in that meeting, and approaches to the neighboring
countries such as Singapore. Malaysia and Thailand, an agreement
was reached between Indonesia and the main user countries about
the stipulation of Rights and Obligations of Foreign Ships in ALKI
(19 stipulation) that must be observed and obeyed by ships that
pass ALKI. Finally, the establishment of three North-West ALKI was
adopted by the 69'1' Plenary Session of IMO in London on May 19.
1998. To this regard, Indonesia became the first country which
established its archipelagic sea territory based on the
stipulation of the Marine Law Convention of 1982.
In accordance with the 69th MSC results, in the framework of
establishing ALKI internationally, the Indonesian government will
enact it in the national regulation and submit to IMO to be
announced. In this connection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as
the coordinator of ALKI matters that have international dimension,
has coordinated with the Ministry of Justice and agreed that the
establishment of ALKI and the stipulations of Rights and
Obligations of Foreign Ships in ALKI will be enacted in government
regulation that is being prepared by the Ministry of
The ALKI acceptance by IMO gives the Indonesian government further
task to introduce ALKI in national level to institutions/related
Indonesia’s army, navy, air force, and police force make up
the Indonesian Armed Forces (called ABRI). After the reformation
(beginning of 1999), the police force stands separately in order
to give the better services and protection to society. The three
other forces then joined to be called Indonesian National Soldiers
(TNI). The President is the supreme commander of TNI. About
300,000 people serve in TNI. By law, Indonesian men be drafted for
two years. But in practice, there are enough volunteers.
In 1998. significant progress took place in South
East Asia region. where ASEAN remained one the pillar of
Indonesian foreign policy. In 1998, the 10"' ASEAN vision was
realized, which is the aspiration of the Bangkok Declaration in
1967. The 10'h ASEAN vision came true when ASEAN leaders agreed to
accept Cambodia as full member of ASEAN in the 6'h ASEAN Summit
Meeting in December 1998 in Hanoi. Vietnam. The acceptance
ceremony of Cambodia as an ASEAN member countries was done in a
special meeting of ASEAN Foreign Affairs Ministers quite
The 31th Meeting of ASEAN Foreign Affairs Ministers in Manila on
24-25 July 1998 discussed important problems which were compiled
in a Joint Communique that consisted of the statement of ASEAN
Foreign Affairs Ministers about the crisis in the region matters
of the Second Protocol to ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and
Cooperation/TAC; nuclear test by India and Pakistan: matters on
Cambodia; the approaches relationship among ASEAN members
countries: and the preparations of the implementation of the 6th
ASEAN Summit Meeting. On this occasion, the Ministers of Foreign
Affairs signed the Second Protocol that gives access to other
countries outside ASEAN to TAG.
According to plan, the Sixth ASEAN Summit Meeting was convened in
Hanoi. Vietnam on December 15-16, 1998. This ASEAN Summit had a
strategic meaning because this was the last ASEAN Summit before
the 21st century. At this opportunity, the leader of ASEAN
approved three documents that could help ASEAN recover from the
monetary crisis and restore the economic growth of each country.
The documents the meeting has yielded the Hanoi Declaration (Hanoi
Summit Declaration), the Hanoi Plan of Action, and ASEAN Statement
on Bold Measures.
Through the Hanoi Declaration, the leaders of ASEAN clarified
their commitment to strengthen economic integration among the
members as a proof of cooperation spirit and solidarity. For that
reason. ASEAN would try immediately to make efforts to recover the
macro economy and monetary stability, economic recovery, and to
maintain a sustained economic growth.
Meanwhile, the Hanoi Plan of Action is the clarification of ASEAN
2020 vision and the ASEAN determination to strengthen macroeconomy
and financial cooperation by maintaining regional macroeconomy and
finance: strengthening the financial system: improving
liberalization of the cooperation financial service sector;
intensifying finance, taxes and insurance, and the development of
ASEAN capital market. Efforts for a closer economic integration
improvement will be done through the acceleration of the
implementation of AFTA, ASEAN International Cooperation Scheme
(AICO), ASEAN Investment Area (AIA), service trade liberalization:
the improvement of food, agriculture and forestry safety: the
intensification of industrial cooperation: the strengthening of
small and medium companies: the expansion of cooperation on the
Intellectual Property Rights (HAKI): the improvement of ASEAN
tourism: and the development of regional infrastructures.