Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Lawmakers and rights groups have rejected the deliberations on the contentious national security bill and called on the House of Representatives' leaders to return the bill to the government, fearing that it could undermine the country's fledgling democracy.
Sidharto Danusubroto, lawmaker from opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and also a member of the House's Commission I on defence, foreign affairs and information, said yesterday that his faction, together with the United Development Party and the People's Conscience (Hanura) Party factions, had decided to reject the bill.
The three factions accused the government of failing to heed their earlier calls. The House had earlier twice rejected the bill's draft.
"The bill considers almost all physical and non-physical dangers as threats to national security. And articles 17 and 54 of the bill give full authority to the national security council to determine which activities, meetings or information on national media can be considered national security threats. It also gives pro justicia [investigative] authority to the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Intelligence Agency," he said.
Danusubroto said the investigative authority would overlap with that of existing law enforcement agencies.
He was concerned that the military could abuse their authority as it would be allowed to instigate raids, detain and interrogate criminal suspects.
"Investigative authority, under the pro justicia procedure, is clearly held by police and prosecutors under the Criminal Code," he said.
Separately, the coordinator of the National Committee for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Haris Azwar, accused lawmakers of accepting bribes for participating in the deliberations of the bill, which are expected to begin next week.
"All factions have agreed to discuss the bill, because they have been promised financial incentives in the coming sessions," he said.
He said Kontras was sceptical about the political commitment of Hanura and the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party since the two parties possessed an entrenched militaristic culture.
Hanura is chaired by Gen. (ret.) Wiranto, a former TNI chief, while Gerindra is controlled by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto, a former commander of the Army's Special Forces or Kopassus.
Azwar also alleged that the bill could be used by political parties and their leaders to protect their interests in the mining sector.
"Regional heads, mostly from political parties, have given their full support to the bill as many dreamed of financially benefitting from the bill," he said.
Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, who is chairing the special committee assigned to deliberate the bill, defended the bill despite its contentious provisions.
He assured that the special committee and the defence minister, representing the government, would make necessary adjustments to the bill.
"The House and the government will work together to make necessary revisions. Rejecting the bill is not a solution," he said.
Programme director of human rights watchdog Imparsial, Al Araf, said the bill could herald the return of the moribund command for security and the restoration of order (Komkamtib), which was notorious during the New Order regime.
Article 54 stipulates that soldiers and intelligence agents have the authority to detain and investigate whoever threatens national security.
"If the bill is passed into law, students, activists, workers, farmers and villagers may no longer be allowed to stage demonstrations, as they may be considered a threat to national security."