Asia Justice minister questions media after demonstrations against Criminal Code bill

Justice minister questions media after demonstrations against Criminal Code bill

Yasonna Laoly said that credible media companies were making a mountain out a molehill on the so-called controversial articles when in fact the current bill actually had better regulations especially with regards to the law on homeless people

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Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly lambasted critics of the criminal code bill after a massive protest at Parliament this week.

He questioned the media companies that are campaigning against the bills, which include a revision of the anti-corruption laws which critics say will reduce the influence of Indonesian graft-busters.

He said there are credible media companies that have been making a mountain out a molehill of ‘the controversial articles’ [in the bill] such as the laws on homeless people and on domesticated birds, when both articles had long become laws under the existing criminal code.

He said the current bill has better regulations including the law on homeless people [wandering about in public areas]; the old criminal code prescribes penalty of imprisonment against them, but the current bill prescribes only fines or social works.

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Yasonna, spoke to Beritasatu TV on Wednesday on the bill.

Thousands of university students who gathered since Monday morning to demonstrate against the Criminal Code and anti-corruption law revisions clashed with police but Parliamentary speaker Bambang Soesatyo was silent on whether the August house will delay the vote.

As a riot broke out in front of the national legislative complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday with police clashing against thousands of university students, more people made their voices heard on the revisions.

The students later rallied at Parliament and became violent after the police fired tear gas (see pix).

More than 18,000 police officers and dozens of anti-riot vehicles were deployed to maintain order in what most people are saying was the biggest student demonstration in the country since 1998.

The police are also on alert as talks of a ‘Hong Kong’ style protest is mulled by students, while many fears this is a repeat of events that brought down former President Suharto’s New Order regime in 1998.

Nevertheless, the head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Promotion Board who is also the Deputy Governor of Bali, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati said that his party would immediately submit a written revision proposal to the Indonesian House of Representatives on several articles in the penal code which is said will be negative on tourism on the island.

“We also support President Joko Widodo’s decision to ask the House of Representatives to postpone the ratification of the revision of the Criminal Code or RKUHP. Bali tourism people do not just support the delay, but will also submit a written rejection of a number of articles that could disrupt Bali’s tourism,” he said.

A number of articles in the revised criminal law are considered to be disruptive to Bali’s tourism, even before they have been enacted.

There have been a number of warnings from foreign governments to their citizens to be careful while visiting Bali in the wake of the revisions.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a travel warning.

There is also a petition to reject the amendments.

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