Thousands of students and members of labor unions took to the streets again on Tuesday to continue voicing opposition to the newly passed Job Creation Law, with their protests coinciding with the first anniversary of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s second term.
The protestors gathered in the afternoon at the Arjuna Wiwaha monument in Central Jakarta and urged the President to scrap the controversial law.
The students included high schoolers and university students from the National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM SI).
The protestors, reported to number 2,000, gathered on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, near the State Palace at 1 p.m. The size of Tuesday’s rally appeared to be smaller than the rallies last week, which were attended by more than 5,000 people, and the initial mass rallies on Oct. 6 to 8 that ended in riots.
The protestors displayed the attributes of their schools and carried posters voicing their disagreement with the jobs law, featuring the hashtags #CabutOmnibusLaw (#RevokeOmnibusLaw), #MosiTidakPercaya (#VoteofNoConfidence) and #JokowiMundur (#JokowiResign).
Jokowi and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin were inaugurated on Oct. 20 last year after winning the 2019 presidential election. In his inauguration speech, Jokowi, who is serving his second and final term, introduced a plan to collaborate with the House of Representatives to endorse an omnibus law aimed at facilitating investment and streamlining overlapping bureaucratic regulations.
The student protesters dispersed at 4.30 p.m., stating that they would hold a rally again tomorrow at the same location.
"We'll be back here tomorrow," a student orator said as he dispersed the crowd, as aired live on Kompas TV on Tuesday.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said 10,587 joint personnel from the police and Indonesian Military (TNI) had been deployed to beef up security during the protests in the area.
Around 10,000 personnel were also deployed to Monas, the House of Representatives compound in Senayan, Central Jakarta, some shopping malls in the capital and the Glodok commercial area in West Jakarta.
The police have also closed several roads in the capital, namely Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, Jl. Merdeka Utara and Jl. Raya Veteran and diverted traffic.
Outside Jakarta, protests against the jobs law also took place in Bandung, West Java, Yogyakarta, Jambi and Medan, North Sumatra.
In Medan, hundreds of students and workers staged rallies in several different locations to protest the law and the Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration.
The protests were peaceful and were closely guarded by the police, unlike the rallies two weeks prior that ended in riots.
Hendra Boang Manalu, a representative from the Association of Indonesian Muslim University Students (KAMMI) said the jobs law was a sign the Jokowi administration had become too powerful, as the law had passed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the students demanded the government focus on handling the COVID-19 pandemic instead of the law, which they argued only benefitted businesses and not the public.
“It is very clear the law sides more with businesspeople,” Hendra said in his oration in front of the North Sumatra Legislative Council (DPRD) building.
Workers grouped under the North Sumatra Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) also lambasted the Jokowi administration for ignoring workers’ welfare.
“In the past year of Jokowi’s leadership, we have not seen his concern for workers. The jobs law is very detrimental to workers,” North Sumatra FSPMI chairman Willy Agus Utomo said.
Meanwhile in Jambi, hundreds of people staged protests in front of the Jambi DPRD building on Tuesday. The crowd, comprising university students, labor unions and environmental activists took turns protesting from 10 a.m.
While peaceful protests took place near the DPRD building, some protestors moved into the city center on Jl. Ahmad Yani where they reportedly burned tires and set off firecrackers while shouting their opposition to the law.
Clashes broke out between protestors and members of the police at around 3 p.m. with police spraying water cannons and shooting tear gas to disperse the crowd.