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Ni Luh Arie Ratna Sukasari in the Pursuit of a Just and Equitable Indonesia

Ni Luh Arie Ratna Sukasari in the Pursuit of a Just and Equitable Indonesia
Ni Luh Arie Ratna Sukasari in the Pursuit of a Just and Equitable Indonesia

Originating from the peaceful village of Canggu, Ni Luh Arie Ratna Sukasari, or ‘Sari’ as she is commonly known, has had an exceptionally diverse range of experiences, not only in the realms of law and business but also in her social mission to promote a fair and just society.

Her journey is a testament to the power of global education and diverse experiences. A journey of education which took her from high school in Illinois, USA, to university in Newcastle, England. After 15 years of honing her skills and establishing a successful business in England, Sari returned to her homeland in Bali with a mission.

To Bali, she brought back a wealth of knowledge and a vision to make positive changes for the Balinese community. One tangible example of Sari’s contribution is her leadership in the Bali International Women’s Association as President, and heading Malekat Hukum, a law firm that focuses on providing comprehensive legal solutions while upholding the highest standards of integrity. She also devotes her energy to education, empowerment, assisting vulnerable women and children, and addressing legal issues in society through the DBB Foundation. With a commitment to helping others and a passion for legal excellence, Sari continues to make a significant impact in her community and beyond.

What motivated you to return to Bali after more than a decade in England? How did this decision affect your professional journey?

Well, that’s easy. Bali is the best! I’m not biased, England is great, but I feel very fortunate to come from a village in Bali. When I went to England, I set a specific time frame before returning to Bali. It has always been my plan since the beginning.

What motivates me personally is that I want to be close to my parents as well. Another motivation for returning to my Homeland is so that I can bring back the values they have instilled in me to then pass on that knowledge to Bali.

The impact on my professional journey has been quite positive because I can bring everything I have learned, including the business acumen I learned while in England, from several successful businesses. So, I want to inspire local businesses here. Not necessarily as an expert, but there are certain things I can help inspire by bringing a more international perspective.

How has your international experience and exposure to various legal systems influenced your approach to legal practice in Bali?

Despite the differences in legal systems between England and Indonesia, where Indonesia follows the “Civil Law” system and England follows the “Common Law” system that does not recognize standardised and written legal sources as in “Civil Law”, the ultimate goal is always to reach the fairest and just conclusion. This is what we aim to bring to Bali. In any situation, we always ask, “How can we reach a resolution that can be collectively agreed on?” We strive to find solutions that benefit both parties before the situation escalates and ends up in a courtroom trial. I learned a lot of this from my time in England. Fair and just, integrity. I believe these values exist worldwide, but these specific values are what I want to bring to Bali. We believe that Indonesia is moving towards a fairer society.

Additionally, there is collaboration with the media. That’s why we work closely with the media, not only to protect, but also to bring these cases to public attention. Especially in Indonesia today with the slogan “No Viral No Justice”. In England, law firms often use the media to expose their cases. So, wherever it can help a case, we like to bring it outside the courtroom, using the media to provide feedback and report on our cases.

Malekat Law Firm
Malekat Law Firm
Tell us about Malekat Law Firm and Duta Bina Bhuana Foundation.

Malekat Law Firm was founded by four partners. Malekat means angel and hukum means justice, hence, angel of justice. Its main idea and primary role are to assist vulnerable individuals in legal matters. We take on many pro bono cases, domestic violence cases, and class cases like our BRI case. Additionally, we also practise in corporate law and litigate both criminal and civil cases.

In Australia, we gained significant attention in our previous class action cases, as well as on Al Jazeera. We always strive to provide solutions that benefit both parties before resorting to reporting to the police or going to court to seek justice. We consider every perspective in providing solutions to a legal issue. As most cases can be resolved through scheduling meetings and effective communication among the parties involved. We use international mediators for this purpose.

Perhaps that’s why we differ from other law firms. When a problem comes to us, we assess whether it requires a legal solution or if discussion is still possible. Especially in situations involving local communities, for example. It is not appropriate to immediately present legal letters to them. Sometimes we have to talk to local residents, engage in dialogues, and bridge the cultural differences between what is expected from expatriates and local residents. However, when litigation is necessary, we will also litigate.

The law firm was founded by a law professor, Professor R. A. Retno Murni. Under her guidance, we apply the integrity and quality standards that she instilled. The reason why we wanted to have this law firm and our integrity is because we are local here. We want this firm to continue to defend those in need. In line with the firm’s name, Angel of Justice, we strive to bring a fair and just resolution to a case.

As for the Duta Bina Bhuana Foundation, it is a foundation in Canggu, Dalung, founded in 1997. I have been honoured to hold the role as chairwoman, where our mission is to educate and empower. I received my education in England, but I feel somewhat different in other countries. In English education, there is a lot of reading, depth, and knowledge. Therefore, the DBB Foundation has a school. We bring the English system and education to Bali in line with the national curriculum. We have planned this and we are very excited about the progress that has been made. It will adopt English standards and when ready, we will inform you.

With the aim of delivering an international curriculum with the highest British standards. What unique aspects or subjects will be included to differentiate Duta Bina Bhuana Foundation from other schools in Bali?

This is still in the development stage. There are many British values that I want to bring from England to Bali, and in that regard, I have British citizens helping me in this effort as well. The main thing we want is for children to read a lot. Currently, the younger generation tends to use social media more, such as Facebook and Instagram, consuming shorter content rather than in-depth reading. Reading opens many doors by providing you with depth and breadth of knowledge. We will revamp the school to have more dedicated open spaces particularly for reading books and also to prepare students to become global citizens with the tools for life. Sometimes in schools, you are only taught certain basic knowledge, but we will introduce and expose them to broader aspects.

We must provide a strong reading foundation. We want to offer a lot of international classic history, as well as Indonesian literature and philosophy that may not be common. Through our reading program, we can have conversations across different generations. From there, they have the freedom to pursue what they desire.

For me personally, mathematics and general subjects are very important, but communication skills with people are equally vital. Knowing people, how to interact with them, how to speak and write clearly. Rather than multiple-choice exams, I want people to be able to choose but understand the reasons behind it. Especially in this current era with artificial intelligence and everything. If you don’t understand the reasons and can’t think, what’s the point?

How is MH Law Firm involved with the local community? And what initiatives do you undertake to contribute to Bali?

Apart from commercial cases and litigation, we also handle many pro bono cases, divorces, and domestic violence cases. We have also been involved in some recent cases with BRI. We try to help as much as possible. Our focus is more on vulnerable women and children. Since we work with Srikandi Justice, a program of the foundation, to raise awareness of domestic violence that is still considered taboo. However, we need to empower women, which can only happen when they know their rights in the legal field. That is our focus and what we give back to the community.

You are quite vocal about the issue of online theft in government-owned banks and the lack of compensation for the victims. Can you elaborate on the extent of this issue in Bali and what steps you believe need to be implemented to protect consumers and ensure they receive fair compensation?

Not only towards BRI bank, but I also need to highlight OJK as well. Because when we have this kind of case and look at some of the public reports available about BRI, we see that there aren’t many customer metrics. For example, how many complaints, how long they take to resolve issues, and also the types of complaints. For other financial institutions, we believe that they need to be transparent for Indonesia.

We are one of the largest countries in the world, but there are financial institutions that need to be more open in customer service transparency. Sometimes when we send letters to them, they only provide corporate responses. We want to change that so that they will cooperate, especially BRI, the largest bank in Indonesia. This is not just for our specific case; this is a common practice. That is why when we highlight our case, it becomes significant. People speak out, “We are experiencing this issue too.” So, BRI needs to be more open if there are mistakes in their system and we are trying to open a dialogue with OJK and other government representatives.

We hope in the future, with this case of Bank BRI, it will also be a suggestion for the government to improve technology systems and update laws in the field of Technology, especially in banking. The aim is to ensure the security of customer data in banks.

Malekat Law Firm
Malekat Law Firm
What’s next for you in the coming years?

Personally, I want to be a blessing to others. I want to help as many people as possible, through a law firm as well as a foundation. Through the education system we can provide in Bali, what we want is to bring world knowledge to Bali. The goal is for the people in Bali to also benefit from international education, where it’s not just for the privileged.

Then with the law firm, basically making changes to the existing landscape. Because for example, there are media, government, police, Propam, and judicial review as well. We want to present our cases in a fair and just manner. We believe that the system works, so we have to believe in it. Even though the impact may not be widely known, we want to ensure that we are striving to get a better, fair, and just Indonesia.

How can our readers get in touch?

People can reach me on +62 819 9717 8168 and email at [email protected].

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