Smoking Gun Found in Tobacco Bill: Activists
Farouk Arnaz & Dessy Sagita
An anti-tobacco group on Thursday reported a current lawmaker and two former legislators to the National Police, accusing them of eliminating a clause designating tobacco as “addictive” in a health bill passed last year, and claiming to have a signed document implicating the three in the crime.
The Coalition Against Corruption of the Anti-Tobacco Clause said that the three House of Representatives lawmakers, before ending their tenure last year, had ordered that the clause designating tobacco as an addictive substance be excised.
“What we have are hard evidences and not just mere indications. We have a document signed by those people ordering the State Secretariat to ‘mutilate’ the clause,” said Kartono Muhammad, a member of the coalition, also known as Kakar.
“We demand justice and that the police investigate this case. What is the motive to ‘delete’ a clause from the health bill. This is a systematic crime and should not happen again in the future,” he said.
The three accused were named as Ribka Tjiptaning from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Mariani Baramuli Akib and Asiah Salekan, both from Golkar Party.
Kartono said police considered the act a crime that could be charged under the Criminal Code, and that the report to the police was delivered after the Ethics Council of the House of Representatives concluded its investigation, saying the deletion of the clause was not just an administrative matter.
Meanwhile Tjiptaning, who led the House committee responsible for deliberating the health bill, said that she was ready to face the complaint.
“I have clarified it to the House’s Ethics Council so it would be better to ask them.”
Tjiptaning had previously claimed that the elimination of the clause was only an administrative error, saying the House had mistakenly delivered an older draft of the bill to the State Secretariat.
Mariani told the Jakarta Globe that the accusation was ridiculous and unfounded. She said the article had only been discussed a little further to accommodate the request of some organizations that had asked the commission to reconsider the anti-tobacco legislation.
“I’m not crazy. I would never deliberately omit an article in a law that has been passed by the plenary because it’s a violation against the Constitution,” she said. “But it is our duty to consider everybody’s importance.”
Mariani said she could not understand the reason behind the accusations because the article in question was eventually mentioned in the health law that was passed in September.
“The health law is complete, there is no missing article, so I cannot understand why would they sue us,” she said.
Kakar is made up by a number of nongovernmental organizations, including the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI), Indonesia Corruption Watch, the Indonesian Tobacco Control Network and the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak).
The case was reported to the Jakarta Police in December but was dropped when authorities said that a case with the potential for nationwide ramifications should be dealt with by the National Police.
The Jakarta Police also said that they had difficulties finding an appropriate violation to fit the accusation.