Indonesian President Joko Widodo contemplates revoking controversial bill

World Today

Thousands of demonstrators in Indonesia blocked the streets leading to parliament in Jakarta on Monday.

The country has been gripped by days of protests over legislation that could weaken the country’s anti-corruption body and a separate proposal that could make pre-marital sex illegal.

CGTN’s Silkina Ahluwalia reports.

It is Indonesia’s largest student movement in decades. Emily Lawsen is one out of thousands of students that are protesting over Indonesia’s decision to revise several controversial laws.

“If we look closer at the draft bills that they are going to pass and also if the parliament keep insisting to pass the criminal code bill, it’s totally will bring us backwards,” Lawsen said. “We don’t want our country to go backwards, we want our country to move forward.”

The Criminal Code law can also make crimes out of freedom speech, especially regarding the president’s honor.

“This movement becomes important as it is telling us and the government and the parliament that they are making the wrong decisions as the growing number of protestors around Indonesia,” Lawsen said. “This is also to remind those sitting in the House of Parliament that they need to do their job as our representative.”

Experts say there are more than 600 problematic articles in the bill,­ including banning consensual sex between unmarried people, criminalizing abortion and prosecution of activists, among many others.

“This is the largest protest since the reformation of 1998. I don’t believe the government should give in to all of the students’ demands. I think a dialogue needs to happen where the government gives their input and the students must listen,” said Hendri Satrio, a political commentator. “An important part of democracy is the willingness to listen but it’s good to see that the students can convey their aspirations freely.”

President Joko Widodo has delayed the parliament’s vote on the bill, hoping a new set of parliament can re-discuss starting October 1st.