Focus on Covid-19

Kompas – April 8, 2020

Doctor: Focus first on the Covid-19 pandemic House!

In the midst of the corona virus pandemic which is sweeping across Indonesia, the House of Representatives (DPR) has been slammed by civil rights activists and trade unions for restarting deliberations on controversial draft legislation including the widely unpopular Omnibus Law on Job Creation and the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP).

Many have also been angered by what they see as a blatant attempt by the House to take advantage of the Covid-19 epidemic to push through the unpopular legislation at a time when mass protests are banned to contain the spread of the virus so that they can avoid a repeat of the massive protests that broke out in September last year over revisions to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law and other unpopular legislation.

Quite aside from the fact that many believe that the House should be focusing instead on the Covid-19 pandemic and its oversight and budgetary functions during this time of crisis, it also means that public participation – which has been severely lacking since the discussions on the laws started last year – is vertually impossible.

And what has been particularly riling – especially for trade unions – is that they had earlier agreed to postpone planned mass rallies against the Omnibus Law in order to respect the government’s restrictions on social distancing.

Several trade union leaders are now saying that if the House continues with the deliberations they will be forced to take to the streets again – despite the health risks and ban on mass gatherings – arguing that the Omnibus Law is far more dangerous than the corona virus.