Porn bill must accommodate diverse local groups: Governor

The Jakarta Post ,  Denpasar  |  Tue, 09/16/2008 10:27 AM  |  Bali

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika on Monday stated the proposed bill on pornography, which is at the heart of a heated controversy on the island, should accommodate the local wisdom of the country’s various ethnic groups.

“It should provide sufficient space to accommodate the prevailing local wisdom in different communities across the nation,” Pastika said.

“Failure to do so will give rise to a very complicated situation.”

Pastika then pointed out the example of Papua, where it is still common for local residents to conduct daily activities without wearing any clothes.

“Many people in Papua still live naked or half-naked. Are we going to arrest them all (for violating the bill)?,” he said.

Pastika served as Papua Police chief before being assigned to Bali to lead the multinational team investigating the infamous 2002 Bali bombings in which 202 people, mostly foreigners, were killed.

Pastika added members of the House of Representatives in Jakarta should provide a clear definition of the term pornography before ratifying the bill.

The definition should draw a clear boundary separating pornography from art, he said.

Pastika also reminded legislators that any new law should reflect the community in which it would be enacted, hinting that the bill would not be completely compatible with Balinese norms and customs.

“However, I believe our legislators will make a decision on this matter in a sensible and wise manner,” he said.

He added he hoped the government would not issue any policies that could polarize the community or lead to animosity and violence.

The House’s working committee has finished debating the bill and is set to submit the draft to a plenary meeting for endorsement within the next few weeks.

The bill has been approved by the Golkar party and Islamic parties such as the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party (PPP) and the Crescent Star Party (PBB).

More moderate parties, including the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) are internally divided over the issue.

Strong opposition to the bill has come from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS).

However, the voting mechanism at the plenary session means it is likely the bill will be passed.

Earlier Monday, Bali legislators said they supported an idea to conduct acts of civil disobedience if the government insisted on passing the controversial bill.

They added they were forced to do so because the bill would hurt Bali the most.

I Gusti Ketut Adiputra, deputy chairman of the provincial legislative council, said councilors would once again send an official note protesting the House’s decision to deliberate the bill.

“We sent one in 2006 and we will send one again this time to emphasize our protest against the bill’s deliberation process,” he said Monday at a mass rally held by students.

Two years ago, local councilors, along with the governor, sent an official note protesting the porn bill’s deliberation. They argued the bill would violate the constitutionally enshrined principle of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

“I cannot imagine the impact to all the hotels and tourists in Bali if the government insists on issuing the porn law,” said PDI-P legislator Made Arjaya.

“It is most likely people will be afraid to come to Bali because of the law.”

Protesting students grouped under the People Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights (ARDHAM) requested the legislators urge their colleagues in Jakarta to stop deliberating the bill.

“We need them to deliberate dozens of other more urgent issues, including corruption, poverty and education. So why waste time discussing such an insignificant issue like pornography?” said Suresh Kumar, one of the protesters.

Also on Monday, activists from several NGOs focusing on women’s empowerment and children’s protection, gathered at the Bali Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) office to discuss the bill.

The activists agreed to reject the bill because it discriminated against and criminalized women.

“The bill reflects the state’s failure to protect the nation’s multicultural heritage and pluralism,” activist Luh Anggreni said.

–Dicky Christanto, Ni Komang Erviani and Luh De Suriyani contributed to this story.

About erviani

Jatuh cinta dengan dunia jurnalistik sejak bergabung dengan Lembaga Pers Mahasiswa Indikator, Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Brawijaya. Sempat bekerja untuk Harian Warta Bali, 2003 - 2005, Koresponden Majalah GATRA untuk wilayah Bali, anggota redaksi Media HIV/AIDS dan Narkoba KULKUL, TPI, dan Koran Seputar Indonesia. Menulis lepas kini menjadi aktivitas keseharian. Kini aktif sebagai kontributor untuk beberapa media yakni Bali Daily-The Jakarta Post, Mongabay Indonesia, dan Khabat Southeast Asia.
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