‘Modify laws instead of passing the porn bill’

Dicky Christanto/Ni Komang ErvianiThe Jakarta Post ,  Denpasar   |  Thu, 09/25/2008 11:07 AM  |  Bali

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has said the House of Representatives should modify existing laws to regulate the sex industry instead of endorsing a new pornography bill he considered a threat to national unity.

“Once these laws are modified, they will be more than enough to stop the sex industry,” Pastika said Tuesday before a crowd of thousands gathered at the governor’s office.

There are at least four separate laws dealing with pornography, namely the criminal code, the Press Law, the Broadcasting Law and the Child Protection Law, he added.

“We will continue to reject the pornography bill even though lawmakers have vowed to modify it because the bill defines sexuality using just one group’s point of view,” he said.

The crowd of more than a thousand, led by the Bali People’s Component (KRB), demanded the governor support their struggle to strike down the bill.

In addition to delivering speeches in that vein, members of the rally staged poetry readings and musical performances, with noted guitarist I Wayan Belawan spotted among the attendees.

Chairman of the Bali Legislative Council Ida Bagus Putu Wesnawa, speaking before the crowd, warned the protesters against becoming too easily provoked while campaigning against the bill.

“Your right to express your opinion is guaranteed under the law, but I must warn you to stay calm while doing so,” he said.

The KRB staged the rally to coincide with a plenary session on finalizing the bill.

However, lawmakers who support the anti-pornography measure were forced to cancel the session in the wake of massive protests across the country. Undeterred, Balkan Kaplale, the chairman of the pornography bill deliberation committee, has vowed to finish deliberations this year.

I Nengah Jimat, a KRB activist, said he had been coordinating with other rights activists to monitor the bill’s deliberation.

“We will keep our eyes on the deliberation, including noting meeting schedules and reading related materials. We’re also keeping watch to make sure they don’t try to secretly pass the bill,” said Jimat, who is also a lawyer with the Bali Legal Aids Institute (LBH).

Meanwhile, scores of legal experts and lawyers have denounced the proposed pornography bill as an unconstitutional piece of legislation, claiming it will suppress citizen’s basic rights protected by the country’s 1945 Constitution.

Udayana University’s School of Law professor Yohanes Usfunan stated the bill trampled upon the citizen’s right to religious freedom. He stressed that this was an absolute right explicitly protected by the country’s Constitution.

“The passage of this bill cannot be decided through a voting process because religious freedom is an absolute right, a right that even a state doesn’t have the authority to interfere with,” he argued on Monday.

Usfunan pointed out that various articles in the bill clearly showed that it was based on ethics, norms and moral values of a specific community and religious faith.

“The bill tries to standardize moral values across the nation. In this respect alone, the bill has violated one of the country’s basic legal principles,” he said.

Similar sentiments were also echoed by former member of the country’s Constitutional Court, I Dewa Gde Palguna. The passing of the bill, he stated, would constitute the gravest breach to the nation’s founding principles.

“The bill will outlaw every basic human rights known to us. This (the bill) is the product of illogical thinking,” he stated.

He urged all elements of the society to file a motion for judicial review to the Constitutional Court if the House of Representatives and the government ratify the bill.

–Luh De Suriyani contributed to this article

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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