Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to delay the deliberation of four problematic bills, including the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill, following mounting public anger at the legislative agenda.
The last two days saw tens of thousands of university students in Jakarta and other cities across the country taking to the streets to demand lawmakers hold off the passage of the controversial bills, arguing that the KUHP bill in particular threatens democracy and civil rights.
The legislative body said it decided to postpone the deliberation of the revised KUHP bill and three other bills, namely the correctional procedures bill, land bill and mining bill, in accordance with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's request to the lawmakers on Monday.
Among the four bills, the lawmakers and the government have only concluded deliberations of the KUHP bill and correctional procedures bill.
"We understand President Jokowi's demand for us to postpone the four bills," House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo said on Tuesday.
Bambang said the lawmakers agreed that they should first provide the public with better understanding regarding the controversial articles in the bills, citing the need to defuse public anger over the issue.
On Tuesday, thousands of students along with various community groups, including representatives of farmers, journalists and workers continued protesting in front of the House's compound in Central Jakarta, blocking road access to Slipi, West Jakarta.
Besides the KUHP bill, which contains contentious articles that critics say could lead to excessive criminalization and undermine freedom of speech, the protesters also demanded Jokowi issue a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to annul the newly passed revision of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) law.
The postponement means that the bills will not be deliberated or passed in the plenary meetings during the last session of the House's 2014-2019 term, which will end next week, as the deliberations will be continued by the new cohort of lawmakers, including reelected ones, who are due to take their seats in the House until 2024 and are scheduled to be installed on Oct. 1.
Whether the problematic articles in the bills will be revised or scrapped remains to be seen.