Mass Organizations Law Now Imminent
Carlos K.Y. Paath
A controversial bill that tightens the regulation of mass organizations may be passed into law by the middle of next month, the head of a legislative body responsible for the draft said on Wednesday.
“The target is that it be passed by mid-March,” said Abdul Malik Haramain, the chairman of the House of Representatives special committee. He added that the only remaining point of contention among committee members is in regard to sanctions for violations.
“All factions agreed in substance about the types of sanctions, such as written warnings, revocation of assistance, temporary suspension of activities, revocation of registration and, lastly, disbanding,” said Abdul, the deputy secretary general for the National Awakening Party (PKB).
Indra, a lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) who also serves on the special committee, said mass organizations would be allowed to support or sympathize with a political party but should not fall under the control of the party.
“Becoming the wing of a party means that the mass organization has a direct relationship with the party,” he said.
But Ronald Rofiandri, the advocacy director at the Center for the Study of Law and Policies of Indonesia (PSHK), said the draft law was confusing.
He explained that the draft law was part of a package of five political laws, with the others focusing on political parties, elections, the legislature and referendums.
“It is clear that from early on, the approach for the draft bill on mass organizations is politics and therefore the law is actually more appropriate to deal with organizations affiliated with political parties,” Ronald said.
He said the House should drop the draft law and instead debate more pressing laws, such as the draft law on associations.
A group of United Nations independent experts last week warned that the bill threatened to curtail rights to freedom of association, expression and religion.
The group called on the House to amend the bill to keep it in line with international human rights standards.
Under the draft, associations are restricted to limited categories of activities and are subjected to vague prohibitions, including bans on conducting activities that “endanger the unity and safety of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia” and “embracing, instigating and propagating beliefs and religions conflicting with [state ideology] Pancasila.”
It also significantly curtails the activities of foreign associations, requiring them to seek a permit from the Foreign Ministry to operate.
Abdul said last week that he was satisfied the law was consistent with the nation’s Constitution even if it fell foul of international consensus on human rights.
“For me, it is the right of a state to manage freedom, because freedom without control surely disturbs and threatens other persons or groups,” he said.