Monday, 21 September 2020

Bad Timing

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe government and the DPR are continuing to deliberate problematic laws. This is immoral at a time of the pandemic.

    THE government and the House of Representatives (DPR) must not take advantage of a crisis. While the public concern is completely focused on the coronavirus disease 2019 or Covid-19 pandemic, the DPR and the government are continuing deliberations of a number of problematic laws.

    A number of bills are being discussed at Senayan. Among them are the Criminal Code Bill, the Personal Data Protection Law, the Mineral and Coal Mining Law, the Agrarian Law, the Penitentiary Law, the Family Preservation Law and the Job Creation Law, which in the form of an omnibus law. These bills were all discussed last year, but triggered public protest because of problematic articles in them.

    In September 2019, students and other sections of society organized demonstrations in front of the People’s Consultative Assembly building to oppose these bills. Public pressure finally led to the DPR halting deliberations and promising to delay the passing of all of this proposed legislation.

    It is truly deceitful and immoral that now the same DPR members have quietly reopened the pages of these bills and began to discuss them again. Trapped at home by the pandemic, people who oppose these bills cannot gather to convey their opinion by demonstrating as they did last September. Their shouts on social media and chat groups have been ignored by the DPR members.

    Most noticeable is the pressure to immediately complete the deliberations of the proposed Job Creation Law. Deliberations have been speeded up so they will be complete before the recess ends on June 14. The DPR leadership has already issued a letter allowing for the bill to be deliberated immediately. This once again ignores the protests from people saying that the bill will be dangerous if it is forced through.

    Legal and economic experts have asked for the government to undertake a thorough study beforehand and rewrite this bill. It favors entrepreneurs and investors and removes protection for workers’ rights. It also relaxes the conditions for environmental protection, meaning it could result in more serious environmental damage. The government ignored this and now together with the DPR is speeding up deliberations so it can be passed into law more quickly.

    President Joko Widodo should not be insisting on passing these laws and ignoring criticism. The endeavor to pass this legislation during a pandemic is not worthy of a leader. At a time of a health crisis of uncertain duration that is bound to cause future problems for the economy, it is not right that the government and the DPR are passing problematic laws. The government should be focusing on responding to the pandemic and preparing proper policies to restore the economy during the forthcoming new normal.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine