President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, accompanied by State Secretary Pratikno, addresses matters related to the criminal code bill at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Friday. The president has urged the House of Representatives to deliberations on the bill until after the new national legislature is sworn in next month. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Jokowi Urges House to Postpone Deliberations on Controversial New Criminal Code

BY :HERU ANDRIYANTO, DION BISARA

SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Friday that he was aware of the controversies surrounding the criminal code bill, currently being deliberated in the House of Representatives, and called on lawmakers to put it on hold until after members elected in April are sworn in next month.

"I continue to closely monitor developments in the discussions on the criminal code bill and listen to opinions from various communities voicing objections to several articles in the bill," the president told a press conference at the Bogor Palace in West Java, aired live on BeritaSatu News Channel.

"I have concluded that some material requires further discussion and I have therefore instructed the minister of justice and human rights, on behalf of the government, to convey our position to the House that the passage of the criminal code bill be postponed by the current legislature."

"I hope the House shares the same view, so further hearings on the criminal code bill can be held during the next term of the House," he added.

Jokowi said there were at least 14 controversial articles that required further consultation between the government and the national legislature. Some of the more contentious articles have sparked outrage among human rights activists and legal experts. 

The bill, which aims to replace the outdated Criminal Code inherited from the Dutch colonial government, will criminalize extramarital sex. Legal experts have warned that the state was overreaching into the private lives of its citizens.

The bill also outlaws the act of insulting the president and includes a wider range of actions that can be considered treason.

Foreign Investment, Tourism Under Threat

Experts have warned that the criminal code bill, if passed next week, would hamper Indonesia's ability to attract foreign investment – one of Jokowi's main goals in his second term. 

Two articles in the bill state that managers or controlling shareholders could face criminal charges for their companies' liabilities. 

"The two articles are not conducive to the business world, because they create legal uncertainty," said Surya Tjandra, legal affairs spokesman for the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI). 

The bill also threatens Jokowi's target of attracting at least 20 million foreign tourists annually by next year. Australia, the country's fourth-largest source of foreign tourists after Malaysia, China and Singapore, has issued a travel warning to its citizens, advising them that they may face imprisonment of up to a year for engaging in extramarital sex in Indonesia.

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