SBY Wants Indonesia's Anti-Corruption and Secrecy Bills Delayed

Bowing to public pressure, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has urged the House of Representatives to delay the passage of the state secrecy and Anti-Corruption Court bills. “Do not force it if there is still the feeling that some crucial problems have not been properly addressed,” Yudhoyno said on Wednesday, referring to the Anti-Corruption Court bill. The bill has been opposed by antigraft groups and activists, who see it as an attempt to undermine the country’s battle against corruption, including by stripping the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) of its power to prosecute cases. Weighing in on the issue, the president said that “in the present transition period, I think both the KPK and the prosecutor’s office can be given the authority to conduct prosecutions.” The Supreme Court has ruled that a new law governing the Anti-Corruption Court, which has a 100 percent conviction rate, must be issued before Dec. 19 to provide it with a legal basis. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said that during a meeting with Yudhoyono the previous day, the president had indicated, although not explicitly, that the state secrecy bill should not be passed during the current House’s term, which ends later this month. “The mechanism will have to be discussed with the House, whether the bill will be withdrawn or the outgoing legislators will hand it over to their successors,” Juwono said. What is important, the minister added, is that “the discourse of concerns and voices that are demanding that the passage not be done at the end of September be respected.” Juwono said the bill still needed to be revised, including refining ambiguous phrasing that left some articles open to multiple interpretations that could affect human rights and press freedoms. Yudhoyono, the minister said, had issued guidelines for the handling of the bill and asked that lines of communication be established with those who opposed the legislation. The president also instructed Juwono to start revising the bill to take into account transparency, accountability and respect for human rights and press freedom, while preserving articles related to national security. “Problems that are suppressed could erupt anytime if we cannot find a balance,” Juwono said. House Commission I, which oversees defense and information, later on Wednesday decided to halt deliberation of the bill, which had been ongoing since 2006, after the government decided to withdraw the proposal. All of the major party factions agreed to the decision.

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