New President and Challenge of Openness

The presidential election will be held on July 9th, this every five years event is celebration of democracy, and it is always interesting to be discussed. Through this presidential election, the patterns of government leadership for next 5 years will be determined. Election, in general, is also the momentum in determining who the people who fill certain political positions.

The party of democracy, which spent budget around 24 trillion is expected to elected a leader that honest, fair, and pro on people’s interests. In addition, the future president is expected to be a pioneer in implementing the openness in accordance with the legal guarantees which have been agreed in the Law No. 14 of 2008 on Public Openness (Freedom of Information Law).

The development of information openness in Indonesia has moved from the existence of legal guarantees towards implementation. Freedom of Information Law was passed on April 30th, 2010, mandates that within two years after its enactment, the law must implement effectively. This is a challenge for any public institution to fill the mandate of law. Unfortunately so far, only partially of public institution who ready to implement the Freedom of Information Law.

The problem is not finished on the legal guarantees, but how to implement it in a standard system of government with a clear and efficient service. To get there, it needs requirement in order to apply the law effectively support the openness.

Some factors that affecting the openness is: First, leadership. Leadership factors hold an important role to change the outdated paradigm of closure the state organization in the past. The wise leader should push the openness as a form of his accountability. The previous information that only be the domain of a handful of power-holders now have the time to open to the public proportionally.

Second, besides the leadership factors, it needed the support of institutional structure and adequate infrastructure to implement the openness. The commitment of public institutional arrangement to be important so that openness can internalized and realized in implementing its duties and functions. The culture changes in the bureaucratic and public also have contributed importantly. It needed the bureaucratic culture that more open, especially regarding the public interest.

Third, it needed public awareness on the right to information that is actually inherent in them since they born (human rights) and as a consequence, is the state’s obligation to fill that right.

In addition to these three factors, purposing the substance of KIP laws are aligned with the purposes of its formation, guarantees the compliance of public right on information needs to be understood comprehensively by public officials, politicians, and the next president. Thus, it will create a good legal culture at the community level as well as other elements that are bound to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law.

President Challenges Ahead

Assessment and Development Centre for Communication and Information (BPPKI) Yogyakarta in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in 2011 reported the results of research which states that: local government in general still did not understand the purpose and implementation process, it proved by the absence of local government that forming PPID. The results also found the government commitment is actually huge to be able to implement this law, but due to technical guidance from the provincial and state that not exist, they are generally acted passively in waiting for instructions from above. Socialization and technical guidance to implement the Freedom of Information Law is still less done either from the centre or from the region. The mechanism of public information services is still using the old mechanism where it was not referring to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law. Local Government has not provided a special budget for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law.

In the future, the elected president and all his staff have a heavy duty to strengthen the base of information openness. Among these challenges are as follows: first, strengthening the commitment of implementation of the Freedom of Information Law in each local government. Because, there is public officials concerned when the Freedom of Information Law is enacted. Emergences fear of criminal sanctions and penalties for public officials who committed violations on Freedom of Information Law.

Second, strengthen the human resources and infrastructure in order to strengthen the management of public information. Human resources are the successful key of Freedom of Information Law implementation in the future. To be able to provide the excellent information service to the public needs educated workers who are able to classify the type of information that required. And other technical capabilities: functional staff of public relations, computer personnel, functional archival, librarian, etc.

In addition, the infrastructure needs to be improved so that information services can be implemented efficiently and effectively. Utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that can be easily accessed by all of society becomes unavoidable. In the future, the central government and local governments should establish coordination and joint commitment to increase the availability of infrastructure in all regional work units (SKPD)

Third, improve the dissemination of information to the public conscious and public officials. Most of local government still lack the substance of KIP laws, most of them just sending the delegates for socialization that conducted by the provincial or central government. Therefore, the next government should improve the substance and dissemination of openness mechanism. And no less important is building the public awareness that they have the right to access public information to improve the public welfare.

Fourth, strengthen the cross-sectoral collaboration. It is necessary to build the awareness of openness at the level of public institutions and a culture of openness in society. The tough task of openness is not necessarily the responsibility of Information Commission. But openness is a tool to create accountable government system that must be implemented by all components of society. Therefore, naturally the private sector, civil society, and universities also contribute to build a clean and transparent government.

Fifth, increase the allocation budget for the Freedom of Information Law implementation. Since the current Freedom of Information Law enacted in 2010 ago, not many local governments are ready to implement it. Most of local governments did not prepare a budget for implementation the Freedom of Information Law. Therefore, in the future this will be a tough task of government. Because something related with budget is complicated.

As citizens, we expected the next president has a strong commitment to the implementation of Freedom of Information Law. Create polite openness climate, to support transparent governance, honest, clean, and anti-corruption.

* The author is chief editor of kebebasaninformasi.org

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