The Jakarta Post
While the House of Representatives has claimed it focused on regulations related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the recently concluded legislative session, activists have criticized lawmakers for passing contentious bills instead of prioritizing disaster management.
House Speaker Puan Maharani claimed that in the 150 meetings during the recent session, which began on March 30, lawmakers worked on legislation regarding COVID-19 handling and its impacts.
In Tuesday’s plenary session, the House approved a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) that will expand the government's authority to allocate emergency COVID-19 funds and endorsed a bill revising the Disaster Management Law, which will give more authority to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and increase the minimum budget allocation for disaster management in the state budget.
However, it also passed a controversial Mining Law revision that civil groups fear will adversely impact the environment.
After the recess, the House is set to continue deliberating three non-emergency bills that have been widely criticized by the public, namely the omnibus bill on job creation, the controversial Criminal Code bill and a revision to the 1995 Correctional Center Law.
Indonesian Parliament Watch (Formappi) researcher Lucius Karus said the House had not been quick enough to reorganize its priorities in the wake of the public health crisis.
He argued that in the current circumstances, the House’s performance should be judged not on how many priority bills it passed, but how quickly it responded to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The House is supposed to work on regulations responding to disaster in various sectors to ensure the needs of the people are met during the pandemic,” he said.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) has slammed the passing of the Mining Law revision in particular, saying the law was full of articles that benefited business and elite interests, and conveniently coincided with the expiry of several contracts held by major mining companies.
Lucius also criticized the House’s decision to put the Mining Law revision ahead of revising the Disaster Management Law.
“The disaster management bill has yet to be deliberated with the government. It will take time. I’m afraid that it will be too late,” he said.