Yesterday, President Joko Widodo signed a presidential decree (Perppu) allowing the government to unilaterally disband civil society organizations (locally referred to as mass organizations) that they deem to be radical and contrary to Pancasila, the country’s foundational ideology. His administration argued that the Perppu was necessary to protect the country from groups that threaten to destroy the country’s unity, but negative reactions to the decree seem to have united people across political spectrums.
Many Islamic organizations, unsurprisingly, reacted negatively to news of the decree, especially as it seems aimed at helping the government dissolve Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which Jokowi ordered disbanded last month due to it’s mission to replace the government with an Islamic caliphate. Among the groups questioning or protesting the decree are the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the ultra-conservative PKS party, the Democratic Party, and of course HTI.
On the other side of the political spectrum, political observers and activists are warning that the decree represents a serious threat to human rights, specifically the right to free association. Since the law allows the government to disband mass organizations without involving the court system, they argue it could be used as a powerful tool or repression by the current or future administrations should it be signed into law after six months when the executive privilege enforcing the decree expires.
Facing heavy criticism on multiple fronts, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Wiranto hit back today by saying that the decree was needed to do nothing less than save Indonesia.
“The Perppu is in the national interest, to save Indonesia from threats, including ideological threats,” he said today as quoted by Kompas.
“Thus the Perppu must be supported by all parties to save the nation, to save the next generation, to save the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, which was the result of the national consensus,” he added.
The security minister also questioned how anybody could reject a bill aimed at saving the country at a critical time from organizations that want to destroy the country.
There are some others parties outside of Jokowi’s administration that have defended the decree, including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).
“MUI can understand the urgency of issuing (the decree) because laws governing the regulation of the (current mass organization law) are considered inadequate,” MUI Vice Chairman Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi said through a statement yesterday according to Detik.