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Jakarta Post

Omnibus bill on job creation passed into law despite opposition

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, October 5, 2020   /   07:10 pm
Omnibus bill on job creation passed into law despite opposition Some lawmakers of the House of Representatives attend the plenary meeting on the endorsement for 2019 state budget implementation bill (P2APBN) in the House's complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta while others joined the meeting virtually on Sept. 15. (Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

The government and the House of Representatives passed on Monday the controversial omnibus bill on job creation into law, sooner than its initial plan of Thursday, despite mounting opposition to the bill over its feared impact on the environment and labor rights.

The final draft of the bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, is 905 pages long and contains 185 articles in 15 chapters. The law aims to improve bureaucratic efficiency and cut red tape, particularly in regard to business permits and investment.

In a plenary session on Monday, led by Deputy House Speaker Azis Syamsuddin of the Golkar Party, House Legislation Body (Baleg) chairman Supratman Andi Agtas said that the deliberation of the bill had taken place from April 20 to Oct. 3, adding that lawmakers and the government had been holding meetings, even on weekends, to expedite the deliberation.

"The deliberation was careful enough until the end. All factions paid attention to workers' rights in the decision-making process,” the Gerindra Party politician said.

A number of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Cabinet members were present during the plenary, including Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Home Minister Tito Karnavian.

Airlangga said the law was necessary as the country needed to increase employment and improve the business climate following the pandemic.

"We are now working to handle COVID-19, which has had a significant impact on the global and national economy. There were 43,600 regulations that needed to be sorted out before the pandemic and our competitiveness is also lagging behind in ASEAN," Airlangga, who is also the Golkar Party chairman, said.

The law is also seen as necessary by the government since the country’s economy shrank by 5.32 percent in the second quarter this year, and is widely expected to record the first economic contraction since the 1998 Asian financial crisis this year.

Read also: Police telegram urges control over protests against controversial jobs bill

Seven House factions have conveyed their approval of the bill, which is one of Airlangga’s flagship programs, namely the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar, Gerindra, the NasDem Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the United Development Party (PPP).

Two other factions – the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) – have rejected to the bill, with the former walking out of the plenary meeting.

"Delay the bill. Look at the public opposition everywhere. The workers are suffering a lot from the COVID-19 crisis,” Didik Mukrianto of the Democratic Party said.

Ahead of Monday’s plenary, social media users expressed their frustrations over the bill by writing posts with the hashtags #DPRRIKhianatiRakyat (#HouseBetraysThePeople), #BatalkanOmnibusLaw (#CancelTheOmnibusLaw) and #MosiTidakPercaya (#VoteOfNoConfidence).

Civil society organizations, grouped in a coalition calling itself the Indonesian People's Faction (FRI), have also voiced their disappointment, saying the state has turned a blind eye to popular opposition to the controversial bill, which the FRI believes only accommodates business interests.

Among the coalition members are several labor groups, student organizations and NGOs, including the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), the Mining and Advocacy Network (JATAM), the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Indonesian People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA) and the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN).

“We’ve [issued] a vote of no confidence. The people demand an end to the deliberation and a cancellation of the job creation bill. The government and House have betrayed the people and the 1945 Constitution," the coalition said in a written statement on Monday.

Labor groups on the same day held protests against the bill in several locations as the police prevented them holding a mass rally in front of the House compound in Senayan, Central Jakarta.