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Jakarta Post

Insulting House could now be felony

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 15, 2018   /   01:14 pm
Insulting House could now be felony Artists carry a puppet of the late former president and pluralism icon Abdurrahman '€œGus Dur'€ Wahid during an exhibition held in commemoration of the Muslim cleric at Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta in a July 27, 2015 file photo. (JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

Former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid was the only president after the Reform Era to have publicly insulted the House of Representatives, comparing it to a kindergarten.

Years after making the statement, the late president and influential Muslim cleric doubled down on his attack on the House, saying the legislative body was “chaotic” and had devolved from a kindergarten into a playgroup. 

It is said that Gus Dur regretted comparing House members to kindergarten students, saying the latter were pure and innocent and therefore not alike. 

But his jokes about the House may be a thing of the past, however, as starting Wednesday, it is unclear whether one can make such jokes in public after the Legislative Institutions ( MD3 ) Law came into force. 

The law, which took effect on Wednesday, grants the House’s ethics council (MKD) the authority to press charges against those accused of disrespecting the House or its members. 

To make matters worse, the law also stipulates that House members cannot be investigated by law enforcement authorities without the approval of the president and the consideration of the MKD.

Civil society groups have said the provision could be easily abused to silence critics, though lawmakers have dismissed such concerns as baseless, saying they could differentiate between legitimate criticism and insults.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he was aware of the public’s concern about the law, which he had refused to sign, but made clear that there was nothing he could do to repeal the law other than ask the public to challenge it at the Constitutional Court.

Laws passed by the House will take effect after 30 days with or without the President’s signature. 

 

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