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Magic memos, collusion and judges with attitude: Notes on the politics of law in contemporary Indonesia

Bourchier, D. (1999) Magic memos, collusion and judges with attitude: Notes on the politics of law in contemporary Indonesia. In: Jayasuriya, K., (ed.) Law, Capitalism and Power in Asia: The Rule of Law and Legal Institutions. Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis group, pp. 199-215.

Abstract

Few would have predicted that two of the most popular public figures in Indonesia in 1996 would be senior judges. Judges have typically been seen as gormless and corrupt functionaries who do the government’s bidding in the government’s courts. Yet in May 1995 Administrative Court judge Benyamin Mangkoedilaga became an instant celebrity after his historic ruling that President Soeharto’s powerful Information Minister had acted beyond his powers when he banned the popular weekly magazine Tempo a year earlier. Benyamin’s courtroom in Jakarta erupted in jubilation at the decision, and the judge was for months in hot demand for appearances and interviews. More recently, the spotlight has turned to Adi Andojo Soetjipto, the Supreme Court judge whose bold denunciations of high level judicial corruption have severely embarrassed Indonesia’s top legal authorities. An unprecedented move by the Chair of the Supreme Court to dismiss Adi Andojo in June 1996 only increased the level of public admiration, if not adulation, for the ‘honest judge’ who continues to speak out against his colleagues with impunity. Between them, Benyamin Mangkoedilaga and Adi Andojo have been responsible for reviving hopes among the urban middle classes that the judiciary may one day take their place, implied in the constitution, as an independent power within the state.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis group
Publishers Website: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203015278
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/49998
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