INDONESIA – On the justified protests against the omnibus law

On many occasions there have been protests against Indonesia’s “Omnibus law”, that was originally proposed at the end of 2019, but was passed in October 2020. The main criticism on the law by the popular masses demonstrating against it: It will cut labour firing safty and minimum wage, the rights of indigenous peoples and remove environmental restrictions leading to massive deforestation, all for the sake to “increase foreign investment”.

This holds true, and being true to it’s name, the “Omnibus law” brings a enormorous cut of social and environmental rights on a incredible scale: This law amends 76 laws across a wide range of sectors and industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, environmental permits and construction,energy and mining, plantations, telecommunications, healthcare, tourism, land and buildings and employment. Meanwhile, the law itself is modified since the governmentenacted 49 implementing regulations in February. It is the first time in Indonesia’s legal history that such extensive (and willfully confusing!) amendments are made to various laws through a single legal instrument. One representative said clearly in a legal hearing last week: "Changes to these laws cannot be carried out through conventional means by changing the laws one by one, therefore a legal breakthrough was needed,"

All promises of “deveolpement”, of “new jobs” that this “breakthrough” will bring are of course illusions. It is a giant criminal attack by the imperialists on the people, to put the load of the crisis on their shoulders.

Therefore the people protested the bill. In January 2020, when it was announced, mostly union workers protested the bill since it would cut wages and remove protection against dismissal, leading to mass firings.

In October 2020 the bill passed, and protests increased drastically. This time workers but also students from high school and university participated.

Also, the environmental issue became more important in these protests, the bill would for example cut regulations against deforestation. A requirement for all regions to maintain a minimum 30% forested areas will be scrapped.

In Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Medan, Makassar, Manado and Bandung protesters were clashing with the police. Bus stops and police posts andone subway station in downtown Jakarta were burnt down. Police used rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons to disperse the crowds, while footage also emerged of the authorities beating protesters and journalists.

Because the government would not “tolerate” attacks on damages on public facilities and the police, “for the sake of order and security, the government will take a firm stand against anarchist actions aimed at creating chaos and fear in society,”In reality this was a crackdown on a justified protest of the people.

In those protests, big influence of “international investors” has surfaced. Also, the inner-Indonesian “opposition” is piggyback-riding those protests. The imperialists try to use the protests for their interests, like the US-imperialists and their allies have tried in the past in the protests against Indonesian president Joko Widodo and his increasing ties with Chinese socialimperialism. Protests against attacks like the “Omnibus Laws” are justified, but are the US-imperialists an alternative? Was the situation for the proletariatand the people better under the butcher Suharto, this fascist tool of US-imperialism? Of course not!

The imperialists try to deceive the protesting masses by pointing at other protest movements that they have taken over, using them as tools, like the “pro-democracy” protests in Thailand. The Indonesian people should rather look to India, where the farmers have protested for months against the planned deregulations for imperialist investments and landgrabbing. Against the interests of various groups of imperialists, they have managed to gotheir own way, in strong friendship with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), that is leading the struggle of the Indian popular masses for liberationfrom national oppression through New Democratic Revolution, the People’s War in India. If the masses in Indonesia will learn to struggle in their own way and create in their struggle revolutionary leadership, they will stop the plunder of the people and their resources.