INDONESIA: Big factions want porn bill changed

Golkar and Indonesian Democratic Party's stance on regulating pornography in the print and broadcast media unclear

Jakarta Post
Saturday, March 11, 2006

By Muninggar Sri Saraswati

Jakarta --- The two largest factions in the House of Representatives are expected to push for major changes to the pornography bill currently being deliberated, as the controversy over the issue continues to grow.

The Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) occupy 128 and 109 seats respectively in the 550-seat House.

Legislator Yuddy Chrisnandi of Golkar said his faction would likely push for the withdrawal of all articles regarding pornoaksi -- pornographic or obscene acts -- in the bill, the title of which is the Anti-Pornography and Pornographic Acts Bill.

It is unclear whether articles in the bill regulating non-pornoaksi -- pornography in the print and broadcast media and art -- would also be rejected.

"It is very difficult to define pornoaksi. How can we regulate something that cannot be defined?" he said Friday.

Yuddy said the articles detailing alleged obscene acts drew the most controversy because they encroached on the personal rights of individuals -- including their right to dress and behave.

While the party wanted changes to the legislation, Golkar members still wanted the bill deliberated by the House, Yuddy said.

Yuddy, who is a member of the House special committee deliberating the bill, said the Criminal Code did not have sufficient laws criminalizing pornography in the country.

"We need a particular law for this issue because we have to protect our children from pornography. Whether you like it or not, pornography has affected our children," he said.

Meanwhile, the PDI-P vowed to do the best it could to make major changes to the bill.

"We consider this a war. We will do whatever we can to prevent this draft being passed into law without changes," legislator Eva K. Sundari said.

Legislator Afridel Jinu said the PDI-P opposed all moves to attack freedom of expression.

The faction has decided to boycott the special committee meetings in Puncak, West Java, which are to be held this weekend.

"We are also planning a move to hold a vote of no confidence in the committee chairman, who has been very arrogant," Afridel said, referring to legislator Balkan Kaplale of the Democrat Party.

Balkan, who wants to finish the bill's deliberation in June, had turned down the PDI-P's request to give legislators more time to submit their list of contentious articles to the committee.

The draft bill has articles banning public kissing, depictions of nudity in public art, and could also fine women who refused to cover "sensitive" body parts like their hair, shoulders, midriffs and legs.

Violators risk jail terms and fines of up to Rp 2 billion (about US$214,000).

Non-Muslim groups in Bali and Papua have voiced strong opposition to the bill, calling it culturally insensitive, while women's groups have said it criminalizes female sexuality.