Prominent NGOs reject invite to discuss Omnibus Law at Palace

CNN Indonesia – March 3, 2020
Trade unions rally in Jakarta against Omnibus Law – January 13, 2020 (Antara)

Jakarta – Several non-government organisations (NGOs) have rejected an invitation to hold a joint meeting at the Presidential Staff Office (KSP) to discuss the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation. The groups which rejected the invitation include the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) and the Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN).

Walhi National Executive Director Nur Hidayati said that they received an invitation letter from the KSP Deputy Head for Political, Legal, Defense, Security and Human Rights Affairs Jaleswari Pramodhawardani. The meeting was scheduled for today, Tuesday March 3.

“Through an open letter which we conveyed [to them], [we said] that Walhi has declined to attend the meeting”, said Hidayati in the letter sent to the Palace on Monday March 2.

Hidayati stated that aside from Walhi, a number of other social organisations had also received invitations from the KSP to attend the meeting.

According to Hidayati, Walhi rejected the invitation based on a study which found that the draft Omnibus Law aims to protect investors by clearing away environmental regulations and is not in the spirit of improving administrative management with the aim of protecting the country’s citizens.

In addition to this, he said, Walhi is of the view that the draft law demonstrates President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s poor commitment to protecting the environment. The law will perpetuate the environmental crisis, facilitate investment and place the ordinary people under the threat of environmental disasters.

“Walhi emphasises that there is absolutely no urgency or relevance in continuing the discussions on the contents of the Draft Job Creation Law”, he said.

Based on this, Hidayati stated that they are urging Widodo to revoke the presidential approval letter and the draft of the law was sent to the House of Representatives (DPR). Walhi is also asking the DPR to refuse to deliberate the draft law in its entirety.

And it was not just Walhi which rejected the invitation. The AMAN and the KPA have also refused to meet with the KSP. Both organisations have already sent a letter to the KSP to this effect.

AMAN General Secretary Rukka Sombolinggi said that they did not attend the meeting because they have already explicitly rejected the draft law. Sombolinggi is of the view that the law will be a disaster for traditional communities.

“Currently the thing that is most urgent for us is Law on Traditional Communities. AMAN along with other civil society groups will continue to urge the government and the DPR to halt the deliberations”, said Sombolinggi when contacted by CNN Indonesia.

Based on information they have received, Sombolinggi said that 12 out of the 16 organisations which were invited to the meeting by the KSP have refused to attend. Although he did not cite which specific organisations rejected the invitation.

“Our worker colleagues were not invited because from the start then have indeed been fighting it (by holding demonstrations) in the streets”, he said.

Meanwhile in a letter received by CNN Indonesia, the KPA expressed the view that the Draft Omnibus Law represents a step back in the political will of the government’s and its pledge to pursue agrarian reform to support justice and prosperity for the ordinary people.

“We have asked the KSP to provide input to the President of the Republic of Indonesia to cancel the Draft Job Creation Law, and immediately realise (genuine) agrarian reform and resolve agrarian conflicts in the motherland”, read the letter to the KSP signed by KPA General Secretary Dewi Kartika.

KSP Deputy Head Jaleswari Pramodhawardani has yet to respond to a request for confirmation from CNN Indonesia on the civil society organisation’s refusal to attend the meeting with the KSP. (fra/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “WALHI, AMAN, KPA Tolak Hadiri Rapat Omnibus Law di Istana”.]