The Job Creation Flaws
IN the drawing up of the Job Creation Law, the House of Representatives (DPR) acted exactly like a furniture factory producing a wooden cupboard ordered by the administration of President Joko Widodo.
Exactly like factory workers, those members of parliament based their work purely on the design from the customer, completely ignored comparable models and stuck to the deadline set by the boss.
It is not surprising that the Job Creation Law passed by the DPR on Monday, October 5, inherited many flaws. The articles within it make possible the return of centralized executive power, satisfy the wants of the wealthy, marginalize the interests of workers and ignore environmental issues. The ‘factory workers’ in Senayan were even prepared to work in secret, including holding meetings in expensive hotels outside the DPR building, far from the principle of transparency that public officials should adhere to. It was easy to predict that the passing of the job creation law would spark the large demonstrations that took place in a number of cities on October 8.
President Jokowi sent the Job Creation Bill to the DPR in February and set a target for it to be completed of 100 days. This clean sweep bill comprised 1,244 articles and was designed to replace the regulations contained in 79 legislative products that were seen as obstructing foreign investment. Jokowi claimed that the new law would reduce unemployment by creating millions of new jobs.
It was easy to predict that the omnibus bill would have an easy passage through the House of Representatives. A total of 74 percent of the DPR members are members of the government coalition. At the end of the deliberations, even the National Mandate Party (PAN) supported the Job Creation Law. Only two factions, The Democrat Party and the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) opposed it. The size of the government coalition in the DPR means that it is almost impossible for the checks and balances mechanism to function.
Furthermore, half of the members of the DPR have a business background. Their interests are clearly reflected in the content of the Job Creation Law. Most of the articles put forward by the government passed through deliberations. In contrast to their oaths of office, the members of the DPR chose to prioritize their own interests, rather than those of the people who voted for them.
It is also apparent that the DPR ignored the principles of consultation and consensus in the discussions of the Job Creation Law. Transparency was interpreted only in the form of live broadcasts of every session on the DPR TV station. Dialogue was limited to inviting academics, union representatives, observers and other opponents. Public inspirations were listened to, then they were ignored.
The lack of public participation in the drawing up of the Job Creation Law was questioned from the outset. A group of pro-democracy people has asked the State Administrative Court to revoke the presidential letter that formed the basis of the deliberations at the House of Representatives. The problem was that the government drew up the academic document at the same time as the bill, despite the fact that according to Law No. 12/2011 on the drawing up of legal regulations, the bill should have been produced after the completion of the academic document. The hasty move by the DPR that passed the omnibus bill into law before the judges’ ruling reinforced the impression of reckless haste in the deliberations of the Job Creation Law.
Moreover, the Job Creation Law has substantial weaknesses. The aim of simplifying regulations is not fully reflected in it. The new articles in the omnibus law require hundreds of implementing regulations. The desire of President Jokowi to speed up the completion of these implementing regulations of the Job Creation Law so they are finished in three months is a real concern.
The new law also abandoned the model of sustainable development prioritizing economic activity in a way that does not damage the environment. The real and apparent threat of climate change was ignored because of the temptations of economic growth. At a time when the world is slowly realizing the importance of environment conservation, the administration of President Joko Widodo is trapped in the past.
The response of the President, who decided to pay a visit to prospective agricultural land in Central Kalimantan when demonstrations were breaking out in a number of cities, was easy to guess: he asked people who did not agree with the Job Creation Law to file a complaint to the Constitutional Court. This response was like belittling the disappointment of the public. We know that before this law was passed, the DPR has already offered the constitutional judges a sweetener in the form of revisions to the Constitutional Court Law. Public opposition will not simply fade away and the next few days will show if the voice of the people is still sovereign in this nation.