Omnibus Bill May Potentially Repress the Freedom of Press

26-05-2020 / KOMISI IX

Member of Commission IX (Demographic affairs, health, manpower and transmigration) of the Indonesian House, Netty Prasetiyani Heryawan, has called for a stop to the deliberation of the Omnibus bill on Job Creation, saying the bill may potentially repress the freedom of press in Indonesia and make attempts to bring back the government intervention on the media. />

“Stop deliberating Omnibus bill on Job Creation. It has the potential to silence and curtail the press in our country. We support the press to build credibility that has responsibility, but do not let the bill return to New Order where we had painful experience on the part of government interference.” she told the Parlementaria in a press briefing recently. />

During the New Order era, the government exercised strict control over news media, starting from the requirement for the press organizations to obtain a government-issued publishing license (Siupp), tight control on journalists to revocation of press license. “This could mean a setback for press freedom,” she stressed. />

The bill regulates administrative sanctions against media companies that violate regulations on press corporations, address and person in charge openly. Such regulation will be susceptible to the spirit of self regulatory media management which is free from the government intervention. />

In addition, Law No. 40/1999 states that press is obliged to proclaim the events and opinions with respect the religious norms and a sense of public decency. any press organizations that violate the provision of article 5 shall be punished by a maximum fine of Rp. 500.000.000 (five hundred million rupiahs). With the new law, they will be punished by a fine reaching to Rp. (two billion rupiahs). />

“A sanction is stipulated for every violation for a deterrent effect but is it necessary to impose a fine 4 times higher? Our press colleagues will encounter difficulty. There will be no one who wants to establish a press company after learning the huge amount of fine.” the legislator from Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said. />

Herawan is of the opinion that a healthy, free and responsible press is a pillar of democracy. Press can maintain social control to prevent abuse of power committed by public officials. “Media can assume full control if it becomes independent and has full discretion.” she said. />

Paragraph 5 of Article 87 of the Omnibus Bill on Job Creation brings about revisions to Law No. 40 on Press, among others are, Article 11 and Article 18, all of which are rejected by media. />

Article 11 regulates the mechanism of capital investment.Initially the investment was carried out through capital market. It was then revised saying that the central government expanded the business of press companies through capital addition as stipulated by regulation on capital investment. Meanwhile, Article 18 revises the provisions on imposing sanctions on press companies that violate Article 5 paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 as well as Article 13 of the Press Law on the increase of the amount of maximum fine, from Rp. 500 million at to Rp. 2 billion./>

Paragraph 3 which states press companies that violate provisions on Article 9 paragraph 2 and Article 12 shall be sentenced with a maximum fine of Rp. 100 million. The punishment is revised to administrative sanction. Lastly, paragraph 4 on further provisions about the type, amount of fine, procedure and mechanism of imposing adminstrative sanction as meant by paragraph 3 are regulated by a Goverment Regulation. (rnm/es)/>

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