Red carpet for investors

Kompas – February 4, 2020

From an op-ed piece titled Focus on Investment Growth

Civil society organisations, trade unions and student groups have unanimously rejected President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s so-call Omnibus Law on Job Creation – which the government claims will cut red tape and remove “restrictive” regulations hindering business making it easier to attract foreign investment, and thereby create more jobs.

Opponents of the bill however – which include is almost everyone except big business and the government – argue that the drafting process only involved businesspeople and the law is essentially rolling out a red carpet for investors at the expense of ordinary people.

They say that the law will further deregulate already environmentally destructive mining and forestry practices and worsen the environmental crisis, while at the same time criminalising local and indigenous communities fighting to defend their land.

The law will lead to more criminalisation, repression and excessive force by the state against ordinary people, while the state provides legal immunity and privileges to business. It will adversely threaten the most marginalised and poorest sectors of society such as farmers, fisherpeople, indigenous communities, women and children, disabled people and other minority groups of faith, gender and sexuality.

They also note that the deliberation process was done behind closed-doors without any public participation, that the law will concentrate authority within the central government – which conflicts with the spirit of reform and regional autonomy – and it will increases opportunities for corruption due to a lack of monitoring and supervision as well as the elimination people’s right of redress.

Trade unions meanwhile are particularly concerned saying it will create modern slavery through “flexible” labour provisions that allow workers to be paid less than the minimum wage, expand outsourcing and contract labour and make it easy to hire and fire workers.