The Jakarta Post
A coalition of civil society groups is pushing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to issue a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) in response to controversial articles of the new Legislative Institutions (MD3) Law.
Judiciary watchdog KoDe Inisiatif, along with several other groups, had been preparing to request a judicial review at the Constitutional Court (MK) to challenge several articles of the law that it believes could be used to silence criticism of the House of Representatives. They then decided to hold their request, saying they were waiting for Jokowi to issue a Perppu.
“We still want to encourage Jokowi to take a stand. It shouldn’t be difficult for the President to issue such a Perppu or initiate a limited revision of the law,” KoDe Inisiatif chairman Veri Junaidi said on Friday.
It appears that a judicial review or the issuance of a Perppu are the two last options to annul the MD3 Law passed on Feb.12. The law has triggered sharp rejection and criticism from the public, civil rights groups and constitutional law experts.
Article 122 of the law is believed to have the potential to infringe the freedom of expression, because it grants the House’s ethics council (MKD) the power to press criminal charges against people accused of disrespecting the House as a state institution or its lawmakers. It is believed that the article can be used to criminalize people who are critical of the House or lawmakers.
The House as an institution has been confronted with strong criticism in the past, not only over its poor legislative performance but also because many of its lawmakers have been found guilty of corruption.
Article 73 of the law gives the police the authority to help the House to force all parties summoned to attend an inquiry.
The law is also believed to give legal impunity to lawmakers, because Article 245 states that House members cannot be investigated by law enforcement officials without approval from the President and consideration of the MKD.
Jokowi and Law and Human Rights Minister Yasona Laoly have encouraged the people to file for a judicial review of those articles with the MK. Several rights groups have decided not to go down that path, however, saying they have lost trust in MK justice Arief Hidayat, whom they consider to be under tight control of the House.
The MK’s ethics council has several times reprimanded Arief for alleged ethical violations related to intervention from other institutions.
Jokowi has yet to take a clear position on the issue. On the one hand, he said he responded to the public’s rejection of the MD3 Law by refusing to sign it. On the other hand, he appears to be reluctant to issue a Perppu to blunt the law.
Jokowi, instead, blamed the minister for failing to report to him on the progress of the deliberation.
Legal expert Abdul Fickar Hadjar from Trisakti University lambasted the poor coordination between Jokowi and Yasona. He said Yasona should not have agreed to pass a law before consulting with the President. “That should be a lesson for Jokowi to be careful in choosing a minister next time,” Fickar said. (ebf)