A lawmaker once involved in the deliberation of the amendment of the Criminal Code proudly called the revision “a decolonization process” as the bill would replace the century-old law inherited from the Dutch colonial masters. But how is it that a bill that was said to dismantle the colonial character sparked student protests nationwide, which left five dead, in September?
The mounting challenge to the draft amendment of the Criminal Code, as well as several other bills, prompted President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to advise the House of Representatives not to endorse them and pass the buck to the succeeding legislature, which began its term on Oct. 1. Then-law minister Yasonna Laoly, who had pushed for the House’s approval of the revised code, opted to resign, claiming that he wanted to focus on his political career as an elected lawmaker.
Less than one month later, President Jokowi reappointed Yasonna as the law minister, sending a confusing message about whether the head of state took the public concerns about the danger of the draft revision of the code to democracy into account when he called for a delay to its passage.
It now turns out that Yasonna, along with old faces who retained their legislative seats, is the driving force behind the renewed move to get the amended Criminal Code passed into law sometime in January. Both the House and the government have hammered out a national legislation program, with a list of 50 priority bills that include the Criminal Code amendment.
Yasonna said the debate would focus on 14 articles that Jokowi said were sources of controversy, such as those covering consensual premarital sex, cohabitation, abortion, the promotion of contraceptives, corruption and treason as well as the prosecution of anyone who insults the president. There will be barely a debate, actually, as both the government and the lawmakers will devote their time and energy to the formulation, rather than substance, of the articles. The contentious articles, therefore, will remain intact and continue to threaten our freedoms.
Regarding the article on cohabitation, for example, the authority to report the act will be limited to parents, instead of neighborhood unit chiefs as in the original draft. The government will also relax the article on abortion, taking into account the 2009 Health Law, which permits abortion for medical reasons.
The draconian nature of the amended Criminal Code will not change, as is evident in the government’s refusal to scrap the Dutch colonial-invented article that makes insulting the president a crime, which ironically no longer exists in the Netherlands. The Constitutional Court annulled the article in 2006.
The draft Criminal Code bodes ill for the country’s hard-earned democracy and protection of human rights as it will restrict freedom of speech and expression should the controversial articles remain intact. The private sector has also warned of the threat the draft law poses on investment as it orders a night curfew on women, including businesswomen.
Rather than promoting the spirit of decolonization, the draft law is reciting a mantra to awaken colonization from its dead past.Artikel Asli