Indonesian President Joko Widodo - Photo by President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for the House of Representatives to hold off the passing of the Criminal Code revision law, after get widely protests from the society. Yesterday, hundreds of scholar protest in the parliament building on various law has been passed by the House.

In a press conference today (09/19), the head of state claimed had continuously looked into and listened to the concerns of public, who have expressed their objections to some articles in the bill and that he agreed the proposed changes needed to be “thoroughly reviewed”.

“I have ordered the law and human rights ministry to convey my stance to the House, that the passing of the Criminal Code law should be postponed,” said Widodo.

There were at least 14 articles that still needed to be reviewed, the president said, without specifying which ones. However, he asserted that the government and the House should get input from communities and members of the public while discussing the substance of the law.

While, scholars from around the Greater Jakarta and Bandung areas will continue to hold demonstrations in front of the parliament building next week even Widodo has ordered the ratification of the bill to be postponed. Trisakti University’ president Dino Ardiansyah said there were still many problematic laws that were being discussed by the parliament.

“We continue to proceed, because there are other issues such as the Land Bill, the Corruption Eradication Commission Law which has been ratified,” he told Tempo today.

Trisakti’ and hundreds of students from a number of other universities staged a demonstration rejecting the ratification of the laws on Thursday. In the demonstration, they demanded to meet with parliament leaders to convey their demands, however, they were only met by the secretary general Indra Iskandar.

University of Indonesia’ head Manik Marganamahendra, said the scholar will consolidate it again. He urged,”We will keep check the parliament moves.”

The laws considered to be problematic by the students include the Land Bill, Employment Bill, Mineral and Coal Bill, and the most focused-on, the revision of Criminal Code law.

Over the past few weeks, the House has continuously faced backlash from critics and members of the public for its plan to pass the revisions to the Criminal Code, which have been discussed for decades.

They argued that some contentious articles in the bill – if passed – would lead to criminalization of normal activities and pose threats to civil rights, including to freedom of expression and citizens’ right to privacy.

The latest draft of the bill still includes several articles that aim to regulate morality, criminalizing, among other things, consensual sex by an unmarried couple, cohabitation and the promotion of contraception. The bill also restores a ban on insulting the President that had been repealed by the Constitutional Court.

Widodo’ fresh call for postponement of the bill’s passage came only four days before the House was initially scheduled to pass it into law during a plenary meeting of its last sitting period on Sept. 24.

The 2014 to 2019 term of the House of Representatives is to come to an end in less than two weeks and a new cohort of lawmakers, including reelected ones, is to be installed on Oct. 1.

They demanded that the House not push ahead with its plan to pass the Criminal Code bill into law, while also voicing disappointment over the recent passage of a highly criticized revision of the Corruption Eradication Commission Law, which many believe weakens the antigraft body’s power and independence.

“We urge the House not to pass the new Criminal Code that can eliminate freedom of speech. We are disappointed that an article criminalizing people for criticizing the president was added,” said M. Elang, UI’s spokesman.

Some of the protesters, who also demanded that the lawmakers immediately pass the sexual violence eradication bill into law, recited poetry, while others voiced criticism.

The House has stepped closer to passing the Criminal Code bill, which critics have long lambasted for containing problematic articles that could lead to criminalization and discrimination of minorities and other vulnerable groups.

The fresh protests followed a protest by various NGOs, labor groups and student bodies in front of the House complex on Monday, during which protesters carried signs calling for lawmakers to delay passage of the Criminal Code bill.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com