A mural in Depok, West Java, pays tribute to Indonesian health workers on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Deliberation on Controversial Bills Should Be Postponed During Pandemic: Constitutional Law Expert

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

APRIL 09, 2020

Jakarta. A constitutional law expert has criticized the House of Representatives, or DPR, for continuing deliberations on controversial bills during the coronavirus pandemic that has already killed 240 Indonesians. 

The director of the constitutional studies center at Andalas University's Faculty of Law, Feri Amsari, said the lawmakers seem to be taking advantage of the situation by deliberating on the bills while the public's attention is on other matters. 

"The DPR continues deliberating the bills because they know no one will stage a demonstration against it during a pandemic. This would allow them to pass the bills without being criticized," Feri said on Wednesday.

At a plenary meeting on April 2, DPR members agreed to continue deliberations on the job creation bill, the criminal code bill (RKUHP) and the correctional institution bill – parts of the government's so-called omnibus bills that have attracted heavy criticism from rights activists.

DPR Deputy Speaker Azis Syamsuddin said the House's legislative body would discuss the job creation bill. Meanwhile, the criminal code bill and the correctional institution bill would be deliberated by its Commission III.

Feri said instead of deliberating the controversial bills during a pandemic, the DPR should focus on its supervisory and budgetary roles. 

"The DPR should not focus just on its legislative function by discussing bills that are unnecessary for Covid-19 mitigation," Feri said during a teleconference with Gadjah Mada University's Law Students Council.

Feri said the DPR should use its power to supervise government spending for Covid-19 mitigation.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had issued a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on March 31 to channel Rp 405 trillion ($25 billion) from the state budget for Covid-19 mitigation efforts. 

"It's a huge budget, the DPR must supervise it," Feri said.

Feri said the DPR could also help the country's desperate fight against the pandemic by supervising the coordination between the Covid-19 Task Force and the ministries and preventing ministers from going their own way in defiance of the task force's president-appointed leadership. 

"The DPR members could even visit hospitals to make sure all our Covid-19 patients are getting the best treatment possible. That's part of their supervisory role," Feri said.

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