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People's Faction urges House to drop Omnibus Law, focus on Covid-19

CNN Indonesia - April 14, 2020

Jakarta – The Indonesian People's Faction (FRI) is urging the House of Representatives (DPR) to halt deliberations on the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation in the midst of the corona virus pandemic. FRI member Asfinawati is asking the DPR to focus instead on overseeing the government's handling of the Covid-19 epidemic.

"The FRI is urging the DPR to stop the legislation process and immediately carry out its function of oversight of the government's handling of Covid-19", said Asfinawati in a press release on Tuesday April 14.

Asfinawati, who is also the chairperson of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), believes that that the DPR's oversight role and function has not been happening since the first Covid-19 case was announced in early March.

Yet, she explained, the government has clearly been slow in dealing with the virus which has already taken hundreds of people's lives. This can be seen from the slowness in declaring a national disaster, delays in test results, the lack of mass testing and the lack of protective clothing for medical workers.

"The delays in dealing with it also include policies on health quarantines which have gone back and forth giving rise to victims among workers, traders and the broader public", she said.

The DPR, continued Asfinawati, has also failed to carry out its budgetary function. This can be seen from the fact that it was the government that first issued Government Regulation in Lieu of Law Number 1/2020 on State Financial Policy and Financial System Stability for Covid-19 Pandemic Mitigation and/or Addressing Dangerous Threats Against National Economy and/or Financial System Stability.

"But, this doesn't mean that its budgetary function no longer exists because budgetary oversight is still an important function of the DPR, especially during this crisis period which in the past has proven to give birth to mega corruption", said Asfinawati referring to massive corruption surrounding bank bailouts during the 1998 monetary crisis.

Asfinawati is of the view that the continued deliberations on the Omnibus Law have caused the government's focus to be distracted.

"For example in an invitation letter which has been circulating no less than 11 minister were invited by the DPR [to take part in discussions] when dealing with Covid-19 is far from what can be called settled", she said.

Moreover, continued Asfinawati, there are several problems in the method used to deliberate the draft law so there is potential for it not to be legal. She cited the zero public participation in the deliberations which undermines democracy.

"The public cannot of course take part in parliamentary hearings because of the PSBB [large scale social restrictions], so the quality of participation and the meaning of the quality of democracy declines", she added.

Asfinawati also urged the government not to pretend to "wash its hands" of the legislation process which is currently being forced through in the midst of this pandemic. Because, she said, under prevailing laws it stipulates that the deliberations must also be with the president's agreement.

"So, statements by expert presidential staff who said that the Omnibus Law [deliberations] will be postponed but without revoking the supres [the presidential letter to the DPR] is simply the political language of a sweetener", she said. (ryn/ugo)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Fraksi Rakyat Desak DPR Setop Bahas RUU Cipta Kerja".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20200414145818-32-493454/fraksi-rakyat-desak-dpr-setop-bahas-ruu-cipta-kerja