ACT Charity Scandal a Momentum to Fix Laws Overseeing Philanthropy

6 July 2022 09:49 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Member of the Philanthropy Indonesia management Hamid Abidin on Tuesday argues that the revelation of the alleged charity funds embezzlement reportedly committed by humanitarian organization Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) can be a momentum for the government and legislators to fix regulations that oversee philanthropy groups in the country.

Abidin believes this controversy is made possible due to the fact that Indonesia has no clear regulations regarding philanthropy groups. 

“This case should be a momentum to fix the regulations,” said Hamid to Tempo on July 5. 

He said that public donations are only monitored under the outdated Law No.9/1961 on collecting money and Government Regulation No.29/1980 on how donations are gathered. Despite regulating the bureaucracy and permits of such organizations, the two laws do not impose sanctions or punishments against those that abuse public donations. 

Abidin asserted that his organization had suggested to legislators in 2018 to come up with a revamped law on public donations but failed to be considered a prioritized legislation plan.

Hamid assessed that Law No. 9/1961 is no longer sufficient to regulate philanthropic institutions which in current times are developing very rapidly. Fundraising activities currently appear almost every day and have entered the digital realm, which no longer recognizes regional boundaries.

Article 8 of the aforementioned law, for example, only punishes people who illegally gather donations with a three-month imprisonment. 

"In the old regulations, the permits were indeed strict, but the supervision and sanctions were very loose," he said.

"Existing regulations are inadequate. This is a shared responsibility, including the DPR, because the regulations have been around for a long time and the DPR does not see this as a priority," he said.

He asserted that Philanthropy Indonesia’s call to refresh regulations is not intended to restrict philanthropy activities but is more to establish accountability through strict monitoring and harsher sanctions. 

"We want to emphasize that the new regulations should not be made to limit philanthropic activities, but instead encourage and facilitate philanthropy which is currently developing. However, we want tightened supervision and sanctions. So that doesn't mean the government has to be repressive,” Abidin explained. 

Legislators Agree on Establishing Clear Regulations 

House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III Speaker Yandri Susanto on Monday agreed that the mechanism of gathering public donations must have a fixed mechanism to introduce accountability, which will greatly reduce the chances of organizations embezzling the funds. 

"It is very necessary that there are clear rules for public accountability because they collect public funds, there need to be audit standards and others so that they are not misused," said Yandri when Tempo reached him on Monday, July 4.

Member of Commission VIII DPR, Maman Imanulhaq, agreed that the case involving ACT should be a momentum to improve regulations and hinted that the DPR would propose the formation of a new bill which is expected to become a legal umbrella to carry out strict supervision of social assistance institutions to make them more transparent and accountable.

"This is a real injustice and I think the DPR will later propose a Charity Art Act like the one in England," Maman told reporters yesterday.

DEWI NURITA

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