Surabaya students protest Jobs Law, try to force lawmaker to phone DPR speaker

CNN Indonesia – April 12, 2023
Students protest against Jobs Law in front of East Java regional parliament – April 12, 2023 (CNN)

Jakarta – Hundreds of students from various campuses in the provincial capital of Surabaya held a protest action at the East Java (Jatim) Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on Wednesday April 12.

Calling themselves the Surabaya Student Executive Council (BEM) Alliance, they were protesting against the recent enactment of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law Number 2/2022 on the Job Creation Law (Perppu Cipta Kerja).

"We reject the Perppu Cipta Kerja, we will stay here until the DPRD [members] come out and meet with us", said one of the speakers from a command vehicle.

BEM Surabaya Alliance representative Jasim Mahindra Zulfikra said that at least 500 students took to the streets during today's action. "The total number of demonstrators is more than 500", said Zulfikra.

There were several things that they demanded. First, they urged the government to revoke the Perppu or Job Creation Law. The students also asked the government to immediately deliberate and enact the Draft Law on Asset Seizure.

The students also rejected all attempts to commercialise education based on the establishment of Tertiary Education Institution Legal Entities (PTN-BH) and demanded that all universities in Surabaya immediately form a sexual violence task force in accordance with Education, Culture, Research and Technology Minister Regulation (Permendikbud) Number 30/2021 on the Prevention and Handling of Sexual Violence in Higher Education Institutions.

According to CNN Indonesia's observations, in the middle of the action one of the speakers then called on East Java DPRD Speaker Kusnadi and other lawmakers to come out and meet with the students.

"Bapak [Mr] and Ibu [Mrs] DPRD speakers, come out or we will come in", said the speaker.

Kusnadi and Deputy DPRD Speaker Anwar Sadad finally agreed to meet with the protesters after the students gave an ultimatum and started a countdown.

During a dialogue on the command vehicle, Kusnadi said that the demands conveyed by the students in rejecting the Perppu Cipta Kerja have actually been conveyed many times.

"Actually, since before, it has been the demand of the Jatim people, including students as well", said Kusnadi.

Kusnadi claimed that the East Java DPRD has continuously fought for the aspirations of the people and students. He also claimed to agree with them and opposes the Job Creation Law.

"We have never stopped fighting for this, the demands of all you sisters and brothers", he said.

Pressured to phone House speaker

Feeling dissatisfied, one of the students on the command vehicle then asked Kusnadi to take a concrete stand and urged the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician to phone House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Puan Maharani.

"We ask Bapak Kusnadi to phone Ibu Puan Maharani directly, today, to connect us, witnessed by the thousands of students here, we feel that you can do this", said one of the speakers.

Upon hearing this, Kusnadi was reluctant to comply with the students' request to phone Maharani saying he would prefer to send her a letter.

"I won't phone [her], regardless of your response, I won't phone [her]" replied Kusnadi shaking his head. "I can only do this officially through a letter. This is a formal thing, not personal", he added.

Disappointed, the students then pressured Kusnadi to open the DPRD front gates for them then hold a people's hearing inside. But this request too was refused. "I'm not going to be intimidated by your request", said Kusnadi.

Disappointed that this was considered intimidation, the students also managed to prevent Kusnadi and Sadad from alighting from the command vehicle and going back into the DPRD building.

"Our request and study opposing the Job Creation Law is considered to be an act of intimidation. So fight! Fight! Fight!", said the students.

But Kusnadi and Sadad failed to heed them and moved away to go back into the DPRD leaving the demonstrators behind.

There was then a brief scuffle between the students and police and bottles were thrown. Nevertheless, the protesters disbanded voluntarily after the evening call to prayer marking the breaking of the fast. (frd/DAL)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Mahasiswa Surabaya Demo DPRD Jatim Tolak Ciptaker, Paksa Telepon Puan".]