Ignoring public opposition, House continues with Omnibus Law deliberations

Kompas.com – March 31, 2020
Students protest against Omnibus Law – Undated (Kompas)

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – A number of civil society organisations are urging the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government to cancel deliberations on the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation, bearing in mind that in the midst of the corona virus epidemic it would not be able to effectively deliberate the legislation.

The DPR however has refused to budge. During a plenary meeting on Monday March 30, DPR Speaker Puan Maharani signalled that the Omnibus Law deliberations will not be stopped.

In a speech marking the opening of the current legislative sitting period, Maharani stated that the DPR has a constitutional duty which must continue to be carried out as a concrete form of managing the people’s sovereignty.

The constitutional duty meant by Maharani is deliberating and finishing 50 draft laws (RUU) which are listed in the 2020 priority national legislation program (Prolegnas). One of these is the Draft Omnibus Law.

“In carrying out its legislative function, there are 50 RUU titles which are in the priority Prolegnas in 2020”, she said.

Cancel Omnibus Law, focus on Covid-19

The DPR ended its recess period on March 29 and opened the first hearing of the 3rd legislative sitting period for 2019-2020 on Monday.

Many had hoped that during this legislative session the DPR would focus on its legislative, budgetary and oversight functions to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Centre for Legal and Policy Studies (PSHK) Networking and Advocacy Director Fajri Nursyamsi has asked that the DPR postpone the deliberation of all draft legislation which has created a polemic, including the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation.

“We are urging the DPR to temporarily postpone all deliberations on draft laws which have attracted opposition from the public and draft laws that in their implementation when they become law need large budgets such as the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation, the RUU KUHP [Draft Criminal Code], the RUU on the Relocation of the Capital City and the RUU on Correctional Institutions”, said Nursyamsi on Monday.

Nursyamsi said that the DPR needs to maximise its function as a representative institution and counter-balance against the government in handling and controlling Covid-19.

Meaning, that during this legislative session, according to Nursyamsi, the DPR must set an agenda that synergises with the national interest.

“We’re urging the DPR to pursue its budgetary function by holding discussions with the government on revising the state budget to accelerate [efforts to] deal with Covid-19”, said Nursyamsi.

A similar view was conveyed Monday by Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Director Asfinawati. Among the six demands that they are making on the DPR in handling Covid-19, she said that they are asking the DPR to cancel the deliberations on the Omnibus Law.

“We demand that the DPR cancel the Draft Omnibus Law deliberations which threaten poor communities in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic”, said Asfinawati on Monday March 30.

Asfinawati said that given the current situation the DPR should focus on pursuing its oversight function of the government in its efforts to deal with and control Covid-19.

The DPR, she said, should also ensure that the state takes responsibility in meeting the ordinary people’s needs in the face of the corona virus pandemic.

“Ensure that the state is responsible for providing all the ordinary people’s needs in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, including providing food, water, sanitation and financial assistance for the poor”, she said.

Deliberations continue

Since it was first proposed by the government, the Omnibus Law on Job Creation has been widely criticised by the public. A number of critics say that the draft law prioritises economic interests without considering justice and social welfare.

“When we look at the elucidation section [of the law] it is very econocentric, not welfare [focused]. So it only talks about economic growth without talking about social justice and welfare”, said Andalas University Legal Faculty Constitutional Studies Centre (Pusako) researcher Charles Simabura in Jakarta on Thursday March 5.

Media and Creative Industries Trade Union for Democracy (Sindikasi) Secretary General Ikhsan Raharjo believes that the Omnibus Law will return Indonesia to the Dutch East-Indies Colonial era.

According to Raharjo, the articles in the law on labour will give rise to modern slavery. “The spirit of modern slavery is very tangible in the draft which all of us can read today”, said Raharjo in Jakarta on Thursday.

Despite all this pressure however, Maharani is insisting that the deliberations on the Omnibus Law will go ahead in accordance with legislative mechanisms. This was reiterated following a plenary meeting to open the DPR’s legislative sitting period.

Maharani was responding to calls from a number of groups that the deliberations on the draft law be cancelled bearing in mind that the corona virus is turning into an epidemic in Indonesia.

According to Maharani, the DPR has not forgotten its legislative, budgetary and oversight functions within other interests, although it is prioritising its function of dealing with Covid-19.

“I need to say that the DPR in accordance with its functions will focus on legislative and budgetary oversight related to the Covid-19 pandemic in order to assist in creating synergy with the government”, she said.

“On the matter of the Omnibus Law however, of course we will discuss it in accordance with the mechanisms”, said Maharani.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Pembahasan Omnibus Law RUU Cipta Kerja di Tengah Wabah Virus Corona”.]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2020/03/31/06333251/pembahasan-omnibus-law-ruu-cipta-kerja-di-tengah-wabah-virus-corona