Polemics Surrounding Merit Awards
THE conferring of honors of merit and orders of distinction to certain persons in celebration of National Heroes Day 2020 garnered polemic.
The controversy occurred with regards to some names on the awardee list. One of the honored persons was the former commander of the Indonesian Military (TNI), Gatot Nurmantyo, who was conferred the Mahaputera Adipradana Star.
Head of the Presidential Secretariate Heru Budi Hartono said that Gatot expressed his willingness to accept the honor from President Joko Widodo. “He has already got his invitation,” said Heru in Jakarta on Tuesday, November 10. Yet, on the day of the conferring ceremony the following day, Gatot chose not to show up.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Law and Security Affairs Mahfud Md. said Gatot sent a letter to the President conveying his reason for non-attendance. “Pak Gatot Nurmantyo stated his acceptance of the star of merit but could not come in person because of Covid-19,” said Mahfud in a statement on November 11.
Several pundits on democracy also criticized the conferring of Mahaputera Stars to members of the panel of justices of the Constitutional Court. They assessed such awarding would impact the independence of the Court when sounding the gavel for certain cases. One case is the judicial review surrounding the omnibus Job Creation Law. The panelists conferred with the merit star included the Chief Justice and his Deputy, Anwar Usman and Aswanto, and Justice Arief Hidayat.
Chief of the Presidential Staff Moeldoko refuted the notion that such awarding of honors by the President would rattle the Constitutional Court’s independence. To his mind, several former Court justices, such as Jimly Asshiddiqie and Hamdan Zoelva, had accepted similar merit awards yet rigorously maintained their independence as justices. “The stars are special awards for those who have shown themselves of merit towards the nation and the people,” said this former commander of the TNI.
Indonesia Falls into Recession
OFFICALLY Indonesia is suffering a recession in the third quarter of 2020. The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) on November 5 announced that Indonesia’s gross domestic product in Q3 of 2020 is minus 3.49 percent (year-on-year). “In this position, compared to the position of Q3 2019, Indonesia’s economy in Q3 2020 year-on-year is suffering a contraction of 3.49 percent,” said BPS Chief, Suhariyanto.
Prior, in the second quarter of 2020, Indonesia’s economic growth was minus 5.32 percent. This negative growth in two consecutive quarters has made recession here inevitable, as is the case with many countries impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The consumer sector, basically expenditures, usually the mainstay of economic growth suffered the worst decline. Household expenditures recorded a devastating decrease.