Indonesian Law No. 32 of 2004 on Regional Administration

This statute replaced Law No. 22 of 1999 on Regional Administration, arguably, as a way of regaining some of the power the central government had relinquished to regional governments, via Law No. 22 of 1999. The primary way it does this is by granting the provinces (propinsi) superiority over the regencies (kabupaten), municipalities (kota) and villages (desa), defining provincial governors as representatives of the central government (wakil Pemerintah).

The statute stipulates the process by which the different levels of regional government may legislate and execute laws peculiar to their own region, as well as the mechanism and process by which such laws can be invalidated by higher-level government in the event such laws contravene a hierarchically-superior law. The Law also allows higher-level government to devolve legislative power to lower-level governments if it deems necessary and appropriate.

While now replaced by Law No. 23 of 2014 on Regional Administration, the statute is of particular significance given the content of art 10(3), the efficacy of which is crucial to any analysis of the validity of Islamising regional regulations in Indonesia. Article 10(3) maintains the central government’s exclusive jurisdiction over foreign affairs, defence, security, judicial matters, national monetary and fiscal matters and religion (emphasis added).

One school of thought argues that art 10(3) renders any Islamising regulation drafted by a provincial or sub-provincial government ultra vires or invalid. Conversely, Islamising regional regulations may Islamise public life but can circumvent the purview of art 10(3) by being couched in terms specific to social order and morality.

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