14 June 2008

Bali Gubernatorial Election -- Administrative Law Issues

Legal issues and elections in Indonesia are not a new phenomenon and it seems that the Bali Gubernatorial election is not going to be an exception. One of the candidates is someone most Indonesians and many Australians will be familiar with I Made Mangku Pastika.

Pastika was the point man for Indonesia in the aftermath of the first Bali Bombings.

The legal issues here are not so complicated. Nevertheless, there seems to be some confusion about exactly what status Pastika must have before he can legally run as a candidate. The issue is that Pastika is a currently serving police officer. Technically, current police officers, members of the armed forces, and civil servants cannot run for elected office while maintaining their employment status.

The argument focuses on the National Police Law which some legal commentators suggest requires Pastika to resign permanently from the National Police Force before seeking elected office. In contrast the local Balinese ordinance only require that the prospective candidate resign temporarily from their position. This is based on a Regional Election Commission Circular issued in Bali, No. 5 of 2008, which only requires a temporary resignation.

Pastika has temporarily resigned from his position in the National Police Force as Head of the National Narcotics Agency and has a letter to that effect from the National Police Chief, General Sutanto.

The General Election Commission for Bali is standing firm that it only needs to apply the relevant election laws and does not have to consider any of the provisions contained in the National Police Law. However, there are arguments being put forward that the National Police Law is lex spesialis and therefore trumps any general legislation. Therefore, the National Police Law must be applied because it regulates specific issues relating to serving police officers intending to seek elected office.

However, if the General Election Commission of Bali maintains its current position and interpretation of the prevailing and applicable legislation, then it appears that Pastika will continue to seek the office of Governor of Bali.

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