A Law for the People
The public is opposed to the proposed revisions to the Mineral and Coal Mining Law. It only favors corporate interests.
The government and the House of Representatives (DPR) should restart their discussions of the draft of the mineral and coal mining law. The bill, which is a revision of Law No. 4/2009 which the DPR failed to pass into law in the previous period, provides many facilities and incentives for natural resource concession holders, but ignores the interests of the people.
There are a number of provisions that should be removed or reworded because they violate the principles of justice. Among them is Article 172-D, which gives the government the authority to reduce the area of concessions owned by state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Meanwhile, Article 169 provides opportunity for corporations holding working contracts and coal mining corporate work agreements (PKP2B) to apply for an expansion of working areas outside their concession areas.
Using the excuse of providing certainty for investors, this bill takes away the privilege of SOEs that is an extension of the state’s management of natural resources for the maximum possible benefit to the people. According to the old law, SOEs are given priority in managing areas in which the mining contracts have ended. In the revised version, holders of work contracts and PKP2Bs automatically obtain an extension after 10 years.
There are so many provisions that purely benefit corporations that make public suspicious about the interests of mining concession owners in this law. Another aspect that seems to have been designed in the interests of mining companies is Article 40, which allows mining permit (IUP) holders to own more than one IUP in the same area. Then there is Article 99, which ignores public safety aspect by allowing former mining pits to be used for other interests, thereby allowing mining companies to ignore their reclamation obligations. Meanwhile Article 93 gives companies the opportunity to buy and sell IUPs, something which is banned under the old mining law.
Also unfortunate is the fact that the bill makes it possible for mining companies to criminalize members of the public and environmental activists. Article 162 states that anybody who disrupts the activities business activities of mining contract holders can be jailed for up to one year.
It is not surprising that cancelling the deliberations of the mineral and coal mining law has been one of the demands of the students in the demonstrations in cities across Indonesia over the last two weeks. Apart from this, students have also opposed the revised Corruption Eradication Commission law.
The statement by chairman of the mineral and coal mining bill working committee Ridwan Hisyam—who was also vice chairman of the DPR Energy Commission in the previous period—that they would not open discussions with the public because the bill had already undergone public examination in 2017 sounded very arrogant.
Therefore, the decision by President Joko Widodo to delay the passing of the revised mineral and coal mining law deserves appreciation. There is nothing wrong with making improvements to the law, but the government and the DPR must ensure that this desire is not used by certain groups for their own purposes. Most importantly, the revised mineral and coal mining law must not turn its back on the public interest.