Tue, 14 May 2002

NGOs seek review on controversial bylaw

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Several non-governmental organizations (NGO) officially proposed on Monday to City Council a draft bylaw that aims to replace the controversial No. 11/1988 bylaw on public order, which is considered by many to be unjust.

Led by Azas Tigor Nainggolan, several activists from the NGOs, including the Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta), the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), the Jakarta Social Institute (ISJ) and the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC), submitted the draft to the council's Commission A for legal affairs.

The NGOs stated that bylaw No. 11/1988 carries no justice or principles of legal certainty.

"The bylaw also gives chances for the practice of corruption and collusion," Sri Palupi of ISJ said at the meeting with the council.

Palupi viewed that most of the articles in the bylaw consist of prohibitions, but the prohibitions could be turned into permission with the governor's approval.

She also pointed out that 60 percent of the articles ban activities conducted by the poor.

For example, Article 16 stipulates that no one is allowed to open a business in public places, except with the permission of the governor.

This is the first time that the public has submitted a draft bylaw to the council.

Horas Siringo-ringo from UPC said the administration often used the current bylaw to oppress the disadvantaged for the sake of city public order.

"The administration has not given the people a chance to regulate themselves. Our efforts to educate the people, including pedicab drivers, was halted by the administration with the bylaw," Horas said.

The draft bylaw stipulates that every decision related to public order should involve public participation.

Article 2 in the draft also states that non-motorized vehicles, including becak (three-wheel pedicabs) are allowed to operate in certain areas of the city.

Hundreds of becak were seized by the city administration in public order operations over the past years.

Fakta chairman Azas Tigor told reporters after the meeting that he was disappointed as the councillors refused to review the bylaw.

"They said the bylaw could not be reviewed, at least until the new governor is elected in October this year," he said.

The councillors, led by commission chairman Maringan Pangaribuan, promised to discuss the draft bylaw with other councillors in the council.

"We appreciate the suggestion. But we should discuss it first with our leaders," said Maringan of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.