Jakarta – The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) has expressed dismay over Communication and Technology Minister Johnny G. Plate's insistence that the stream of criticism and protests against the Job Creation Law was driven by nothing but misinformation and hoaxes.
LBH Pers director Ade Wahyudi said the minister's tonally authoritarian statement showed a regression in the country's democracy.
"[...] We have entered an era in which the truth only belongs to the government," Ade said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co. It's not characteristic of a democratic nation."
He argued that it was the government and the lawmakers themselves that perpetuated disinformation by denying public access to the final version of the law in the first place.
Johnny previously made the controversial statement during a live interview with television journalist Najwa Shihab alongside National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM-SI) coordinator Remy Hastian on Wednesday.
According to Johnny, the ministry has recorded at least 547 reports of misinformation regarding the Job Creation Law and the protests against it.
Furthermore, the ministry had also classified thousands of online conversations surrounding the two topics as either misinformation or hoaxes, he said.
Remy conveyed his disagreement, shifting the blame onto the government and lawmakers for their failure to make the final draft legislation available for public scrutiny.
"The government is unable to provide accountable information [regarding the law]. This is what the people take issue with," Remy said.
Johnny denied such claims, insisting the government had always been transparent in regard to the legislation product.
"If the government says it's hoax, then it's hoax. Why would you deny it any further?" he responded.
The minister's stance on the matter appears to be in line with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's previous statement claiming that criticism of the law was merely based on "disinformation and hoaxes spread through social media". (rfa)