The Indonesian House of Representatives has quietly passed a new legislation: the revised Law on Representative Assemblies, also known as the MD3 Law. Critics say the new law will limit criticism of Indonesian politicians and reduce their accountability.
Under the new rules, representatives in parliament are permitted to press charges against people who “undermine its honour or that of its members.” In addition, all investigations into members of parliament must be approved by the House Ethics Council.
Groups like the Indonesia Corruption Watch and the Association for Elections and Democracy have launched an online campaign to fight the measures and has gathered more than 170,000 signatures. However, amendments can only be overturned by a Constitutional Court ruling.
The new law was supported by eight political parties, which includes the Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDIP, of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Parties against the legislation were the United Development Party and the National Democratic Party.
Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said, “Indonesia’s parliament is one of the least trusted state institutions. It does not help that they passed such a repressive law. It’s going to create more and more problems in Indonesia.”
Indonesian journalists and the media have expressed shock over the amendments. These groups say the legislation will reduce press freedoms.
Abdul Manan, head of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, warned that the law could become a tool to limit freedoms.
He said, “The subjective nature of the wording means that journalists can easily be ensnared for doing their job, and the law can become another tool with which to suppress…the press.”