Law as Written

Indonesian law as written is not always clear...


Law as written we could call Formal Law. In the chapter titled Formal Law we present several good discussions about the formal structure of the Indonesian legal system.


Indonesian laws may be unclear...

Many laws in Indonesia are extraordinarily vague and poorly written. Language has changed over the years and there is no centuries-long tradition of precise legal definition of terms, so ferreting out the intended meanings from statutes can be frustrating. Intended meanings may be irrelevant because many laws were written under colonial rule or dictatorship and were intended to be oppresive or capricious.

The written laws may not be widely available or published throughout Indonesia. Much underlying law is written in Dutch, and few Indonesians read Dutch. Some laws are purposely written to be vague for social or religious reasons.


Professionals may claim certainty which they do not possess...

In Indonesia an over-reliance on formal law, as if understanding the law as written will somehow indicate a solution, is probably unjustified, but lawyers are taught to do it. It is undoubtedly frustrating to admit that there is no solution.

Professionals do try to pull intent out of laws as written however, and unfortunately, once they have done so they sometimes relate them to clients or post conclusions on the internet as if they are facts—reality is, their opinions are often only untested theories.

But what is worse, they can’t admit as much to their clients, because potential clients will likely shop until they find a lawyer who says he has a solution. Their business depends on reassuring clients of their expertise.

The following discussions in Formal Law may be of interest, but if you only need a summary you can skip to the Formal Law Conclusion page.