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How hard is it to change a constitution that was drafted by an authoritarian regime? What strategies might democratic actors adopt to change such a constitution, and what risks may they face? These dilemmas face democratic actors in Myanmar who seek to change the 2008 Constitution. In this chapter I introduce the contours and practice of Myanmar’s Constitution as a political order set in place by the former military regime. I identify and explore the different strategies that have been used to change the 2008 Constitution – formal constitutional amendment proposals in 2013–2015; informal constitutional change through judicial interpretation in the Constitutional Tribunal; and informal constitutional change in the form of the legislative innovation of the Office of the State Counsellor. These attempts at constitutional reform come with particular risks to democratic actors, personal, political, and institutional. I suggest that the risks of constitutional change are heightened during the first period of a constitution, particularly if the constitution has been designed to protect the interests of the former authoritarian regime.
The court system in Indonesia has changed and expanded rapidly since 1998, with the introduction of a wide range of specialised courts. These come in a variety of forms, from independent specialised courts to ones that exist within the general court system, each with different forms of specialised jurisdiction and often a mix of non-career and career judges. These specialised courts often seek to disrupt existing concerns with the general court system in an attempt to circumvent the cycles of corruption. I consider the extent to which Lev’s work can help us understand this phenomenon. Lev’s empirical approach to the study of Indonesian law remains critical to ensure a deep view of courts. Further Lev’s work demonstrates the importance of legal culture as a means to study the politics of courts, while remaining conscious of the need to avoid ‘grand myths’ in favour of the empirically obvious. Lev’s work leaves a significant and intellectually formidable legacy for the study of legal culture and Indonesian courts. The chapters that follow in this volume consider the judicial innovation and specialisation that has occurred across the court sector in Indonesia. They also point to persistent features of judicial practice, such as the pervasiveness of corruption, that resonate with Lev’s assessment of the state of the courts.
Indonesia is the world's third largest democracy and its courts are an important part of its democratic system of governance. Since the transition from authoritarian rule in 1998, a range of new specialised courts have been established from the Commercial Courts to the Constitutional Court and the Fisheries Court. In addition, constitutional and legal changes have affirmed the principle of judicial independence and accountability. The growth of Indonesia's economy means that the courts are facing greater demands to resolve an increasing number of disputes. This volume offers an analysis of the politics of court reform through a review of judicial change and legal culture in Indonesia. A key concern is whether the reforms that have taken place have addressed the issues of the decline in professionalism and increase in corruption. This volume will be a vital resource for scholars of law, political science, law and development, and law and society.