Indonesia to revise old law on mass organisations

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesian Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said the outdated 1985 Law on Mass Organisation had prevented his ministry from creating decisive measures against the notorious and hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

Gamawan urged the House of Representatives to speed-up deliberation on the revision of the law, which had been protracted for months.

"The measures against violent mass organisation in the 1985 law were too complicated, time consuming and not efficient. I want this law to be amended to accommodate simpler procedures in taking decisive actions against violent mass organisation," Gamawan said on Monday.

He also said that the law was too old and that it contained articles no longer relevant to the current situation concerning mass organisations.

The move to revise the 1985 law, however, appeared to be the result of public pressure to disband vigilante groups such as the FPI.

Dozens of NGOs, however, protested against the bill, which they said could threaten the constitutional right to form or to be involved in civil society organisations.

Gamawan dismissed the allegation, instead claiming the new law would promote better protection for civilians' right to be involved in mass organisations and freedom of speech.

Concerning the incident in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan on Saturday, where representatives from local customary groups rejected the presence of four senior FPI leaders, Gamawan said he had talked to Central Kalimantan Governor Agustin Teras Narang.

"I heard the governor would hold a forum involving local religious leaders, representatives from customary groups and the Indonesian Ulema Council to respond the incident. I think that will be a good step and I support it," said Gamawan, who is also a former West Sumatra governor.

Hundreds of protesters, largely from the Dayak tribe, staged a protest at Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangka Raya to block the arrival of FPI leaders and managed to force their way onto the airport's apron and runway to confront the FPI officials who had come to the city to inaugurate a provincial branch of the organisation.

Following the security breach, the management of the airport ordered the FPI members to remain on board a Sriwijaya Air plane while the other passengers disembarked. The four FPI members were then not allowed to leave the plane and were flown to Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan.

Earlier on Monday, the FPI filed a report with the National Police over the incident. They accused five men, namely Teras Narang, Narang's relative Lukas Tingkes, local youth figure Yansen Binti and Sabran Sukron, as those behind the airport protest. The FPI said the protest was organised to cover up local crimes.

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