Indonesian govt will not deliberate controversial bills this year

Indonesian govt will not deliberate controversial bills this year
A man fishes along a seawall in north Jakarta November 12, 2014. Picture taken November 12, 2014.

The government will postpone the deliberation of bills that are deemed controversial, including a bill on the protection of religious communities, which the Religious Affairs Ministry had touted as a breakthrough in the protection of minority rights.

Although the bill has been included on a list of 84 bills proposed for the 2015-209 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas), the government has left the bill, along with other contentious bills, off this year's priority list.

Also dropped from the priority list are the national security and state secrecy bills, which had been opposed by rights groups as potential threats to democracy.

"We want to avoid any controversies during in this first year so we will not focus on such contentious bills. It's the President's instruction. They remain as our long-term targets although they are not our priority this year," Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly said on the sidelines of a meeting with lawmakers from the House's Legislation Body (Baleg) on Thursday.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin had previously said that his office had drafted the religious communities bill as an effort to guarantee the freedom of faith for all.

Lukman said the bill could be deliberated and endorsed in April next year.

Bills included on the priority list for this year include a bill to set up a truth and reconciliation commission (KKR).

The bill, if endorsed, could be a breakthrough in the complicated efforts to establish an ad hoc human rights tribunal to hear past cases of human rights violations.

"I have promised to focus on the KKR bill in particular. So the government will work on it as our efforts to set up the rights tribunal have failed twice. Let bygones be bygones. We'll focus on this [KKR bill] now and let's see how to settle problems later," Yasonna said.

Also included in the top priority list for this year are an amendment to the draconian Criminal Code (KUHP) and a revision to the 2003 Labor Law.

Baleg chairman Sareh Wiyono of the Gerindra Party said that for the 2015-2019 term, the House expected to discuss 150 bills under the current Prolegnas.

"We aim to deliberate 30 bills in a year at the most. We want to make sure they will be of good quality," he said.

The House has frequently been subject to criticism for its poor legislative performance.

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