The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan called on those protesting against the controversial Job Creation Law to disperse on Thursday evening, shortly after meeting with protesters at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.
Anies said that every citizen had a right to express their opinion and that he would pass on the protesters' demands to the central government in a meeting scheduled for Friday.
“I guarantee that what you said will be passed on tomorrow,” Anies told a crowd of rallygoers.
He added, however, that given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, such mass rallies posed a large public health risk.
“We do not want you who feel like warriors to go home sick. Everyone should be healthy,” he said. “We have heard you. Now everyone, you and I, should go home to our respective homes and follow the developments from there.”
He closed his remarks by asking the protesters to sing the patriotic song "Padamu Negeri" (To You, My Country) with him.
Thousands of protesters, mostly university students and laborers, held rallies at two main points in Central Jakarta: near the State Palace and at the House of Representatives compound in Senayan.
Protesters who were trying to reach the State Palace clashed with police on Thursday afternoon as police closed the main access points to the landmark.
The Transjakarta station at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle was also set on fire.
Students and workers in other regions across the country have also staged large demonstrations as part of a three-day national strike in protest against the Job Creation Law, which started on Tuesday.
All the protesters demanded that the law, which many experts and activists have said is detrimental to labor rights and environmental protections, be revoked immediately.
The government, meanwhile, has insisted that the law is necessary to improve bureaucratic efficiency and cut red tape, particularly in regard to business permits and investment. (sau/kmt)