Jakarta. Civil societies are joining forces against a recent amendment to the 2014 Legislative Law, known locally as the MD3 Law, passed this week by the House of Representatives, which many fear may jeopardize free speech and democracy in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
"Through the MD3 Law, parliament has amassed more power as a legislative body … even surpassing the power of law enforcement authorities," Setara Institute chairman Hendardi said in a statement issued on Thursday (15/02).
On Monday, the House passed an amendment to the MD3 Law, which grants the legislative body's ethics council (MKD) the power to press charges against those critical of the parliament itself as well as its members.
Eight parties, including the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar Party and the Democratic Party, supported the bill.
The United Development Party (PPP) and the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) reportedly walked out from Monday’s meeting.
Article 122 of the law states that the MKD has the power to take legal action and/or other actions against persons, groups or legal entities that "disrespect the dignity of the House and its members."
According to Hendardi, the amendments have shifted the MKD’s role as an ethics body to one that protects the House from lawful processes.
"Overdosed protection for the House and the criminal threat for citizens as stipulated in the MD3 Law illustrates how the amendments have been compromised," Hendardi added.
The Forum on Law and Constitutional Studies (FKHK) on Wednesday filed a petition against the MD3 Law to the Constitutional Court, as reported by BeritaSatu.com.
FKHK said that the recently revised version includes articles that are not in line with the Indonesian constitution, such as the forced summoning of citizens.
The National Press Council and other journalists organizations also voice their concern against the new law.
"It will be shameful for Indonesia ... backwards," said Jimmy Sillalahi, a commissioner of the Press Council, as quoted by Metro TV on Wednesday.
In the statement, Hendardi also said that combating the decline in democracy in Indonesia will require consolidated resistance from civil societies.
Civil society organizations, including Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) and the Indonesian Center of Law and Policy Studies (PSHK), are rallying support through an online petition in rejection of the revisions.
By Thursday morning, the petition had been signed by more than 112,000 people.