APSN Banner

Begging bylaw denounced as inhumane

Jakarta Post - September 13, 2007

Jakarta – The Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) has urged the Home Ministry not to endorse the new bylaw on public order that bans donating money to beggars, buskers and street children.

"This policy is inhumane. It discriminates minority groups, such as the urban poor and certain ethnic groups," the association's chairman Dedi Ali Ahmad said Wednesday at his office in Salemba, Central Jakarta.

"Besides, the City Council did not involve the public when drafting this bylaw, as stipulated in Law No. 10/2004 on law regulations. "The Home Ministry has the right to cancel bylaws that contradict public interests or a higher law," he added.

The ordinance, which was endorsed by the City Council on Monday, must be submitted to the ministry to be legalized in 60 days.

Dedi said the association would file a judicial review with the Supreme Court if the ministry decided to pass the bylaw.

The newly endorsed bylaw became controversial after academics and observers condemned the ordinance, saying it was "absurd" and "ridiculous". They said the bylaw would not alleviate poverty in the city, which has been a major problem faced by the administration for years.

Dedi criticized several articles in the bylaw that state individuals are not permitted to beg for money in public spaces or ask for a parking fee without prior permission from the governor.

"These people have the right to earn a living. The city administration should help them find jobs rather than make up such absurd rules," he said.

Another article in the bylaw bans individuals or institutions from opening businesses on streets, sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and other communal areas.

The bylaw, which will replace a 1988 ordinance on public order, is aimed at making Jakarta cleaner and tidier. If the new ordinance is implemented well, then the city administration has done the right thing in proposing it, Dedi said.

"But I don't think it will work. The last time the administration made a regulation (on air pollution control), it didn't work. The administration doesn't have enough public order officials to enforce the ordinance," he added.

He also said he could not understand how the City Council could made such "petty" rules, such as prohibiting people from spitting or littering on public transportation. "The administration forces people to obey the rules without any coordination. This is an abuse of power."