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Controversial KPK law takes effect today, students plan protest in Jakarta

Coconuts Jakarta - October 17, 2019

Today, the controversial revision to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law officially comes into effect, as President Joko Widodo has thus far failed to use his executive power to block its implementation.

A bill, known as RUU KPK, was passed into law on September 17 – just 13 days after it was first officially tabled for deliberation at the DPR. Critics say RUU KPK contains nine seriously problematic issues that would prevent the agency from fulfilling its mission, such as the creation of an "oversight council" to monitor KPK's performance, removing its independent status by making it a government body, requiring KPK investigators to obtain permits from the oversight council to conduct wiretaps, and the removal of the KPK's ability to recruit its own investigators.

According to Indonesian law, any revision to laws automatically come into effect 30 days after its passage by the DPR, with or without the president's signature.

Though Jokowi did not put his signature on the revised KPK Law, he also did not use his executive power to issue a Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu), which would temporarily block its implementation and put the burden back on DPR to either make the Perppu permanent or reject it during their next legislative session.

Jokowi has been caught between a rock and a hard place on this issue, after major protests were staged nationwide in recent weeks demanding that he issue a Perppu, which is an act that observers say would see him lose favor with all factions in the DPR, who unanimously agreed on RUU KPK's ratification.

During a media interview yesterday, Jokowi refused to answer questions related to the Perppu.

More protests

In light of recent developments, The National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM-SI) announced that it would stage protests in major cities in Indonesia, including outside the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta, starting at 1pm today. The students are still demanding that Jokowi issue a Perppu to halt the revised KPK Law.

Around 2,000 students are expected to take part in the protest in Jakarta.

The students say they have filed a letter with the Jakarta Metro Police announcing their intention to protest today, but the police have reportedly used their discretion to not approve any public demonstrations in the lead-up to President Jokowi's second term inauguration on Oct. 20.

"We are a democratic country so we will still protest. The letter was an announcement, not a seeking of permission," BEM-SI spokesman Ghozi Basyir told Suara yesterday.

In September, thousands of students across Indonesia took part in protests against highly controversial legal reforms (including the revised KPK Law) and other pressing issues in the country, such as the transnational haze crisis and unrest in Papua.

Some of the protests turned violent as students clashed with police, resulting in the deaths of three youngsters, one of whom allegedly killed by a gunshot wound by police in Kendari, South Sulawesi. Activists and lawyers have called for independent probes into police conduct in relation to these deaths.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/controversial-kpk-law-takes-effect-today-students-plan-protest-in-jakarta