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Jakarta Post

Civil groups sue Jokowi’s letter on resuming deliberation of job creation bill

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, May 4, 2020   /   02:35 pm
Civil groups sue Jokowi’s letter on resuming deliberation of job creation bill A worker raises his fist during an International Workers' Day protest on May 1, 2020 in Tangerang, Banten. The protest called on lawmakers to halt deliberation over the omnibus law on job creation and instead focus on COVID-19 mitigation efforts. (AFP/Fajrin Raharjo)

Civil society groups have filed a lawsuit against a presidential letter (Surpres) that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo sent to the House of Representatives to resume deliberation on the controversial omnibus bill on job creation.

The letter also listed the names of ministers the President had appointed to represent the government in the bill's deliberation.

Arguing that the bill was made without public involvement, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), environmental group Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) and the All-Indonesia United Workers Confederation (KPBI) as the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on April 30 with the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN).

The groups demanded in the lawsuit that the court declare the letter as legally flawed in both substance and procedure. The groups also asked the judicial panel to order the government to revoke the letter from the House and end any ongoing deliberations on the bill.

Lawyer Arif Maulana from the plaintiffs’ legal team said that the focus of the lawsuit was the Surpres that green-lighted the House to resume deliberating the job creation bill.

"We demand that the court annul the Surpres because it was made without [reference to] the principles of good governance, prudence and public participation," Arif told a virtual press conference on Sunday.

He noted specifically that the groups that were likely to be affected by the bill, such as workers, fishermen, farmers and indigenous communities, were not involved in drafting the bill.

Arif said that if the court granted the lawsuit and annulled the letter, any deliberations on the bill must cease automatically, as the legal basis for the process would be proved legally flawed.

KPBI deputy chairwoman Jumisih said that labor unions were not invited to participate in drafting the bill with the task force, despite the government’s claim that the unions had been involved and had agreed to the contents of the bill.

A task force consisting of businesspeople and experts and headed by Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) chairman Rosan P. Roeslani had been set up to consult the public, inventory problems and input suggestions in drafting the bill.

Read also: Omnibus bill on job creation: Labor articles to be discussed last amid public protests

The government had previously planned to set up a separate team comprising state officials, businesspeople and union representatives to  coordinate deliberations and public consultations on the bill. However, the labor unions had declined to join the coordination team, as they were not permitted to make changes to the existing draft bill.

“The draft bill was completed suddenly and the government submitted it to the House along with the Surpres. We [workers] are not allowed to provide any input [to the draft bill],“ she said.

The House resumed deliberation of the problematic bill in early April despite the public outcry, that it neglected workers' protection, and during the COVID-19 epidemic that had additionally strained the people’s lives, especially workers.

Students, workers, activists and experts lambasted the government and the House for pushing ahead with their intent to endorse it, saying that the bill would harm Indonesian democracy, the environment and workers, particularly when the world was battling a pandemic.

House Legislative Gody (Baleg) chairman Supratman Andi Agtas said that he would respect the rights of civil society to sue the Surpres, but he questioned whether such a lawsuit was permissible.

“I’m not sure that the letter [can] be sued at the PTUN, but we are waiting for a decision from the judges," said the Gerindra Party politician.

Baleg is scheduled on Tuesday to resume its series of expert hearings on the bill.