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Jakarta Post

President Jokowi denies sweeping powers in omnibus bill

  • Riska Rahman and Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, February 20, 2020   /   06:30 pm
President Jokowi denies sweeping powers in omnibus bill President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (right) answers reporters' questions at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Feb. 12. (Presidential Press Bureau/Muchlis Jr)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has shot down allegations of him having the power to override laws thanks to an omnibus bill on job creation, saying that the president could not revoke laws through government regulation.

“It’s impossible,” Jokowi told journalists at the Ritz Carlton Pacific Place in South Jakarta on Thursday, referring to Article 170 of the omnibus bill that stipulates such a provision for the government.

The contentious article permits the government to revoke laws simply by issuing government regulations and consult with the House of Representatives in drawing up such regulations.

Jokowi asked the public not to worry about the draft.

“This is not yet a law, it’s just a draft bill,” he said.

He also assured that the draft, which had been submitted to the House for deliberations, could be changed based on public input.

“The point is that the government and the House are open for suggestions and to hear the wishes of the people. It is still too early, we still have three, four or maybe five months to finish it.”

He added that the government and the House were also expecting input from labor unions.

The omnibus bill is aimed at creating jobs, improving the ease of doing business and stimulating economic growth, but it has triggered an outcry from law experts and the public.

Indonesian Parliament Watch (Formappi) researcher Lucius Karus highlighted Article 170 of the bill, arguing that Jokowi must have an authoritarian spirit if the article had been proposed by the President himself.

“If Jokowi proposed this concept, then this is proof that the President does have an authoritarian spirit and wants to gain power more,” Lucius told Kompas on Monday.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said on Tuesday that there had been “a typo” in Article 170.

“Yes, it’s actually a typo, which means that it’s a mistake. We all agreed, if we [refer] back to the basic theory of law, only laws can revoke laws, while government regulations can only regulate laws. That’s the principle,” he said.

Political observer Jeirry Sumampow expressed doubts over Mahfud’s claim, saying if the article contained typographical mistakes, points in the article would not have been arranged coherently.