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Jakarta Post

Backroom bargain: House holds closed meeting on job creation bill

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 8, 2020   /   08:34 am
Backroom bargain: House holds closed meeting on job creation bill House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani (second right) receives a copy of a report from Legislation Body (Baleg) head Supratman Andi Agtas during the House’s eighth plenary session on Jan. 22. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The House of Representatives Legislation Body (Baleg) has begun discussing the controversial omnibus law on job creation by holding a closed, partially virtual meeting on Tuesday despite extensive public criticism and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting was not scheduled on the House’s Tuesday agenda. According to Baleg deputy chairman Willy Aditya, the meeting began at about 12 p.m. and was physically attended by four leaders of the body as well as about nine other members.

“Almost all of the other members attended virtually,” Willy told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

However, the press was only invited to join the meeting at 3 p.m. via Zoom, a video conferencing program, just as the meeting, chaired by Baleg chairman Supratman Andi Agtas of the Gerindra Party, was about to finish.

“We only discussed the two main points of the meeting. First, the House will hold a hearing with the government next week to ask about its readiness," Willy, a member of NasDem, said.

Read also: Guide to omnibus bill on job creation: 1,028 pages in 10 minutes

In the next meeting, he said, the House and the government would establish a working committee "with Pak Airlangga [Hartarto, the Coordinating Economic Minister], and other related ministers". He added that the body would not set a target date to resolve the bill.

At the Tuesday meeting, factions in the House were asked to prepare problem inventory lists (DIMs).

The body will consider the lists after holding a series of hearings involving various parties, such as labor unions, experts and businesses.

According to the conclusion of the meeting, which was shared by Baleg via Zoom, the deliberation of the bill will begin with noncontroversial topics.

“Therefore the government can start with the easier topics of the bill first,” the document read.

Read also: Key points of labor reform in omnibus bill on job creation: What we know so far

The public has widely criticized the House for deliberating the omnibus bill during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many said it showed that the lawmakers had little consideration for the opinions of the people it would affect.

One of Indonesia’s biggest labor groups, the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) plans to hold a massive protest against the bill, despite the pandemic.

The protest will be held in mid-April, involving 50,000 workers from Greater Jakarta, and will take place in front of the legislative complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

Civil society organizations, major labor unions and student organizations had previously prepared for street rallies in March to protest articles in the omnibus bill on job creation that — if passed — they said would harm labor rights, the environment and democracy. They also opposed the bill’s opaque drafting process.

However, the rallies were canceled because of the pandemic.