Indonesian parliamentary committee finishes deliberating contentious jobs bill

Indonesian parliamentary committee finishes deliberating contentious jobs bill
Global investors have been watching closely to see if the bill gets watered down in parliamentary debates, as Indonesia tries to compete for manufacturing investment relocating from China. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 04 October 2020

Indonesian parliamentary committee finishes deliberating contentious jobs bill

Indonesian parliamentary committee finishes deliberating contentious jobs bill
  • So-called ‘omnibus’ bill aims at revising over 70 existing laws in a single vote
  • Government officials insist the bill would not hurt labor protection nor the environment

JAKARTA: Indonesia moved a step closer to passing President Joko Widodo’s contentious “Job Creation” bill after parliament’s legislation committee and government ministers on Saturday approved the latest version for a vote next week.
A coalition of fifteen activist groups, including several trade unions, condemned the move in a statement on Sunday, accusing the government and parliamentarians of completing the deliberations in secret during an unusual hearing late at night over a weekend.
The coalition called on all workers to join their planned national strike on Oct. 6 to 8 to protest the bill, which organizers had said would involve 5 million workers.
The so-called “omnibus” bill, aimed at revising over 70 existing laws in a single vote, is the president’s flagship measure to speed up the pace of economic reform and improve the country’s investment climate.
Global investors have been watching closely to see if the bill gets watered down in parliamentary debates, as Southeast Asia’s largest economy tries to compete for manufacturing investment relocating from China.
In a hearing on Saturday, which ended a few hours before midnight, representatives from seven out of nine factions in the legislation committee approved the bill to be brought to a parliamentary vote, while two factions rejected.
Several ministers led by chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto also approved the final version of the bill, which contained some changes to the government’s original proposal, such as a different scheme for a cut in mandatory severance benefits.
“This bill will support de-bureaucratization and efficiency,” Airlangga said in the televised hearing.
Workers opposing the bill argued the legislation would be a “red carpet for investors, widening the power of the oligarchy” by not only hurting labor protection, but also taking away lands from farmers and indigenous communities, according to the coalition’s statement.
Greenpeace campaigner Arie Rompas, addressing a separate news briefing on Sunday, said his group was reviewing legal actions it could take if parliament passes the bill into law. Green groups have criticized the bill’s provisions that relax environmental study requirements for investors, which they said could lead to ecological disasters.
Government officials have insisted the bill would not hurt labor protection nor the environment and that it is necessary to attract investment and create jobs.


Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

Updated 04 December 2020

Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

COTABATO, Philippines: Dozens of militants aligned with the Daesh group opened fire on a Philippine army detachment and burned a police patrol car in a southern town but withdrew after troops returned fire, officials said Friday.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in Thursday night’s brief attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Piang town. Nevertheless it sparked panic among residents and rekindled fears of a repeat of a 2017 militant siege of southern Marawi city that lasted for five months before being quelled by government forces.
“We are on top of the situation. This is just an isolated case,” regional military commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said in a statement.
Security officials gave differing statements on the motive of the 30 to 50 gunmen. Some said the militants targeted Datu Piang’s police chief over a feud but others speculated that the militants wanted to project that they are still a force to reckon with by attacking the army detachment in the center of the predominantly Muslim town.
Officials denied earlier reports that the militants managed to seize a police station and burn a Roman Catholic church.
When reinforcement troops in armored carriers arrived and opened fire, the militants fled toward a marshland, military officials said.
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is one of a few small armed groups waging a separatist rural insurrection in the south of the largely Roman Catholic nation. The groups opposed a 2014 autonomy deal forged by the largest Muslim rebel group in the south with the Philippine government and have continued on and off attacks despite being weakened by battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism.
The armed groups include the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization for kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and bombings.