Ahok limits freedom of expression
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama has issued a gubernatorial regulation restricting free speech in public spaces.
Ahok told reporters at City Hall on Friday that he issued Gubernatorial Regulation No. 228/2015 because he wanted protesters to behave in a more orderly fashion. 'Demonstrations often cause traffic jams on main roads,' he said.
Ahok said he understood that all people should have freedom to deliver their opinions but argued that they were not entitled to infringe upon the rights of others. 'Do not close down roads that will effect our economy such as when Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin [business hubs in Central Jakarta] are in total gridlock,' he said.
Article four of the regulation stipulates that protesters will be allowed to stage protests at just three venues: Parkir Timur Senayan at the Bung Karno Sports Complex in Senayan, Alun Alun Demokrasi (democracy plaza) located at the House of Representatives (DPR) complex and Silang Selatan (Southern Cross), located at the National Monument (Monas) park. All three areas are located in Central Jakarta.
The venues listed by Ahok are rarely used as protest sites. Workers, students and residents usually stage their protests in front of government offices such as those at City Hall and the State Palace.
Articles five and six of the regulation also state that protests should be conducted between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and that the noise level of the sound system should exceed more than 60 decibels.
According to industrialnoisecontrol.com, 60 decibels is similar to the noise level of a conversation at a restaurant, an office, background music or an air conditioning unit at 100 feet.
Protesters who do not comply with the newly issued regulation will be dispersed by the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP). Satpol PP can also ask for assistance from the police and the military, as stipulated in Article 15.
The regulation also stipulates that five representatives from the protesting group will be allowed to meet with government officials to deliver their demands.
Ahok, who is notorious for his straightforwardness in front of the media, said he chose the particular venues outlined above because if people staged protests there, the demonstrations would not harm traffic flows in the city.
'You are allowed to yell but we will direct you to Monas. What they [the protesters] need is actually getting covered by the media,' he said.
Ahok said the idea to issue the regulation came after a joint meeting between Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry officials, Military officers and the City Secretary.
'They thought that we needed to issue a gubernatorial regulation so that we could offer clear directions to protesters,' he said.
He also said that the regulation was based on Law No. 9/1998 on freedom of speech. 'The law regulates the correct way to conduct demonstrations,' he said.
Separately, workers' alliances, which frequently conduct demonstrations in Jakarta, criticized Ahok's regulation.
Dwi Harto, secretary general of the Jakarta National Executive Board Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSBSI), said the regulation curbed the rights of citizens to convey their aspirations before the public.
'This regulation contradicts the principles of democracy that support the freedom to convey thoughts,' he said on.
He added that the city administration should allow protesters to voice their aspirations anywhere in the city because rally locations could not be centered solely in the areas outlined in the regulation. (sfr)
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