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Yogya workers say ending direct elections huge step back for democracy

Tempo.co - September 9, 2014

Pribadi Wicaksono, Yogyakarta – The Yogyakarta Workers Alliance (ABY) has slammed the draft law on regional elections (RUU Pilkada) saying it will bring suffering to workers in the future.

"If the RUU Pilkada becomes a reality, workers' prospects will become even more uncertain, and we have agreed to reject it", ABY secretary general Kirnadi told Tempo on Tuesday September 9.

Kirnadi said that one of the impacts of returning to the mechanism of Regional Legislative Councils (DPRD) choosing regional heads would be a lost of control into the hands of those in power and the government in their commitment to improving the welfare of workers. "Regents or mayors who are chosen by the DPRD will no longer be bound to political contracts to fight for workers' interests", said Kirnadi.

Kirnadi said for example that under the direct election of regional heads, candidates can be bound to political contracts. If they succeed in being elected, the candidates have a moral obligation to fight for a better future for workers. "Such as revisions to the reasonable living cost index (KHL) in determining an ideal minimum wage", he said.

Aside from this, the workers also slammed the draft law because they predict it will only perpetuate executive transactional politics with the DPRD. "To date, those who have become regional heads, if they aren't [political] party members they're businesspeople with big capital recruited by the parties. They usually aren't pro-worker, but the opposite".

Kirnadi said that the RUU Pilkada was a huge step back for democracy. It also represents a muzzling of the political rights of marginal groups that need to fight for their interests. "Workers will no longer be able to put forward candidates that are suitable and fulfill a criteria, because it will all be taken over by the DPRD".

As a response to the RUU Pilkada, Kirnadi said they would be coordinating with trade unions around the country to reject the law with one voice and to push for a judicial review if the law is ratified. "We will be in the front line rejecting [the law] up until a challenge with the Constitutional Court. Dirty politics such as this cannot be allowed to happen", said Kirnadi

Yogyakarta city DPRD speaker Sudjanarko said that the RUU Pilkada is sure to attract strong criticism from the public at large. Like the recent presidential election campaign, he believes that huge numbers of people will become organised [to fight the law].

"Not just party [supporters], but members of the public will come out by themselves, because this process is an extraordinary step back for democracy", said Sudjanarko, who is also the chairperson of the branch leadership board of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]

Source: http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2014/09/09/058605578/Buruh-Yogyakarta-Tolak-RUU-Pilkada.

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