Editorial: Fight Another Day

3 min read

Finally, there is a sign that reason and sense of justice could triumph over greedy and corrupt powerful elites when the Constitutional Court rules that the controversial Omnibus Law, also known as Job Creation Law, is conditionally unconstitutional, ordering the government and the House of Representatives to amend parts of the law in accordance with the constitution within two years.

The court decides that if within two years the government and the House of Representatives fail to do so, then the law will be permanently considered unconstitutional and must be scrapped.

There are some confusion on the impact and implementation of the ruling because although the Constitutional Court still allows the law to be implemented until it is amended, the government must delay any strategic decision which have wide impact on the public while it can’t create new technical regulations to further make the law works.

While some thinks that such a ruling is not bold enough and that the court must just declare the law unconditionally. But considering how powerful and dominant the current ruling elites are, such wishes are not only very unrealistic, they are naive. The coalition supporting Jokowi administration dominates the House by strongly owning three-fourth of the total House members, while especially in Omnibus Law legislation, the country’s businesses have been fully behind him all the way.

For the court coming out with this kind of a decision — how confusing it might be — is already a victory, however small it is, for those who have fought against the law all this time. The justices could have otherwise just rejected any legal attempts against the law, and most of people would have just accept it as a normal decision, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.

At the very least the ruling can be seen as a sign of checks and balances are still working however mild it is, sending a gesture that the current ruling elites have not owned everybody.

That’s why we must highly appreciate the ruling, and we should hope that the government still possesses enough wisdom to just delay implementing the law altogether considering the ruling as legal and people’s rejection of its policy.

Seeing the ruling from the middle ground — spectrum between those who are against or for the law — it actually opens and provides more time for the rigorous discussion about the law as the main criticism against the law was that the House and government were rushing the bill into the law without enough time for the public to assess it. So, if the ruling is addressing public biggest concern, why not thankful about it?

Politically, the ruling has actually killed the law because these next two years leading to 2024 elections will be an election years and no sane political parties will pursue something that has been intensely rejected by majority of voters.

This the best news for basically the majority of Indonesian people from worker unions, students, civil society groups, human rights activists and environmentalists across the country. They have been voicing their rejection against the law endlessly since its passage last year.

The biggest losers in this drama are not the lawmakers who had it passed and walked away with whatever kickbacks they have gotten, but President Joko Widodo, or popularly known as Jokowi, and the financiers of the bill.

Turning a deaf ear against the protests from almost every corner of the country, Jokowi proudly stated that the law will create more jobs, accusing the protesters were wrongly informed. If millions of workers and activists have been insisting that the law was a big mistake and endanger people and environment, how could they be wrong?

Read more: Hijacking Indonesia

Many of these activists are well educated and have followed the legislation process from the beginning, while studying draft after draft of the bill until the final one. How could they be accused of misunderstanding of the intention of the law?

Read more: Rebuffing Professor Mahbubani’s Praises for Jokowi Point by Point

It turns out that it’s Jokowi who does not understand the law, and fed by his circles with wrong information about the law. He surely has not read it carefully himself. More than one year on, no indication that the promises offered by the law will come to fruition. The unemployment levels continue to spike.

Other big losers are interest group, which is easy to point out: big business groups who want to cut costs and eager to exploit the country’s natural resources by any means possible. They had rushed the law all along, and with no secret that any bill that goes through the House required huge amount of money to get the lawmakers’ signatures, they may end up paying for nothing.

However, while people in general must celebrate this ruling, it’s only a temporary and conditional victory. Yes, the law is dead in the water because the next two years will already be election year, and no political parties want to risk their chances by pursuing law already opposed by majority of people ahead of the elections. However, for those who want this law to be enacted, this is only a delayed victory. After 2024, the same people who had received kickbacks will again win the elections. These people who will rule over Indonesia, will have to pay their debts, and will again try to have the similar law passed.

But that is a story for another day. For now, let’s enjoy the fact that people’s will is prevailing regardless of the confusion, and the fact that the nation still has the Constitutional Court whose five of nine justices are possessing enough reason and wisdom to serve the public interests.

For the rest, we will fight another day.

Editorial Omong-Omong

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