House sets priority bills despite early criticism

After weeks of discussion with the government, the House of Representatives Legislation Body (Baleg) has completed a list of 159 bills regulating various aspects of life to be endorsed until 2019. However, some have sparked concern, particularly from law observers.

From the 159 bills included in the 2015-2019 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas), 37 are on the priority deliberation list, which lawmakers as well as the government are targeting to complete deliberation of by December, including bills deemed controversial such as those on alcoholic beverages and tobacco.

The 2009-2014 House dropped the deliberation of a bill on tobacco amid protests that it aimed to accommodate the interests of giant cigarette producers in the country, although lawmakers did not officially revoke it from the Prolegnas list, consequently allowing its enactment when deemed necessary.

The bill on alcoholic beverages, meanwhile, was also on the Prolegnas list in the previous House term, but deliberation of the bill did not take place.

The Islamic-based United Development Party (PPP), which formerly initiated the bill, resubmitted the proposal to the Baleg and won the support of the other nine political factions at the House — the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P); the Golkar Party; the Gerindra Party; the Democratic Party; the National Awakening Party (PKB); the National Mandate Party (PAN); the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS); the NasDem Party and the Hanura Party — thereby securing a spot for the bill on this year’s priority list.

Besides the two controversial bills, other bills have caught the attention of watchdogs on account of some articles believed to pose a threat to freedom of speech.

The Jakarta-based Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) cited a bill to amend the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

ICJR executive director Supriyadi W. Eddyono highlighted a stipulation on defamation included in Article 27 of the existing law, which according to him, should be eliminated.

The article prohibits the distribution of information deemed indecent, defamatory or involving gambling.

“That particular article has been widely misused to criminalize people,” Supriyadi said on Sunday.

“Thus, we will suggest that an amendment eliminate it and we will attentively monitor deliberation to ensure this,” he added.

Supriyadi recalled the case of Gadjah Mada University (UGM) student Florence Sihombing, who was charged last year for referring to the city as poor, idiotic and uncivilized on her Path page.

He discussed the potential for criminalization posed by the bill on alcoholic beverages since it, if not carefully examined, might punish consumers of alcoholic beverages based on morals.

As both the House and the government agreed on the list, despite concerns from their critics, lawmakers will have their final say in a plenary meeting slated for Monday.

Baleg deputy chairman Firman Subagyo said he expected no debate over the matter during the meeting as the Prolegnas had won the approval of all political factions.

Firman, a Golkar politician, was convinced that the Prolegnas list, shorter than the previous list of 251 bills, would allow lawmakers to effectively perform their legislative work as each of the 11 commissions could focus on deliberating two bills every year.

“We will not allow the inclusion of more bills within the next five years,” Firman said.

He further explained that the current Baleg would also actively its exercise its monitoring role to examine the implementation of all laws once endorsed.

Commenting on early criticism of the Prolegnas, Firman insisted that lawmakers would impartially involve all related parties in the discussion of all bills.

“Regulations fundamentally aim to bring goodness for the people,” he concluded.

Sumber: The Jakarta Post

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