Center for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Science in Jakarta organized National seminar on “8th Year Decentralization and Regional Autonomy” which took place on 29th April 2010. The seminar was participated by representatives from different agencies including delegates from Committee Monitoring the Implementation of Regional Autonomy (KPPOD), SMERU, The Ministry for Internal Affair, University of Indonesia, donor organizations, press, etc. Aimed at evaluating the progress of decentralization over the last nine years (2001-2010), the seminar covers the role of governors in the context of center-periphery relations and its implications to regional arrangements. The discussion also highlights regional splitting policies and regional consolidation, which became decentralization features. Presenters and participants discuss the current implementation of decentralization, as well as locating some challenges and possibilities to improve decentralization policy systematically in the context of democratic consolidation in Indonesia.
According to Head of Centre for Political Studies, Prof. Dr. Syamsuddin Haris decentralization has become an interesting topic since many issues attributed to this policy. Some issues are associated with the number of regional splitting which burdening state budget, while political design on decentralization has been never clear as seen in the changes of decentralization and regional autonomy regulations. Dr. Haris highlighted that “as part of our commitment at the Center for Political Studies, we make these issues as main topics of research”.
Chaired by Dr. Muridan Satrio Widjojo, Head of Local Politics Studies, Center for Political Studies of LIPI the seminar discussed three related issues. The first issue is on urgency and implications to strengthen the role of governors. Presented by Dr. R Siti Zuhro, researcher from P2P, she explains governor’s position and his role as head of regional government and as representatives of central government.
The second issue is on blueprint for regional autonomy. Prof. Dr. Sadu Wasistiono, vice-rector of the IPDN (Institut Pemerintahan Dalam Negri) argues that due to the lack of clarity on decentralization and regional autonomy paradigms that blueprint for those policies are never clear. Another point he discussed is on evaluation of regional splitting and consolidation in the reform era. Agung Pambudhi, Executive Director of KPPOD (Komite Pemantauan Pelaksanaan Otonomi Daerah) describes that quality of governance in implementation decentralization and regional autonomy is far from sufficient. Whilst in the matter of regional splitting, incompetent institutions caused inadequacy in problem solving mechanism in the new areas. Regional splitting became highly political and only served as “political commodity” for local elites.
Attended by nearly one hundred participants, this seminar finished at 1.30 pm. Important notes from the seminar are: first, regional splitting tend to create distribution of opportunities for corruption; second, the number of regional splitting areas tend to burden state budget; third, that Indonesian as unitary state must not only be read as a proposal to unite Indonesia, but also to be understand as a good will to restore the dominance of central government; fourth, moratorium policy to regional splitting is inconsistent and tend to become “politics as usual”; fifth, that main idea behind decentralization and regional autonomy policies is to improve public services and democratization at the local level. Most of ideas to split regions came from local level but apparently they were not in accordance with the original purpose of this policy namely to improve public services and democratization at the local level. (Septi Satriani)