If recent reports are to be believed, then the controversial Pornography Bill (previously known as the 'anti-pornography and indecency bill) seems to be set to pass the House of Representatives soon. Some lawmakers are hailing this as some kind of prophetic Ramadan gift.
The bill is clearly a threat to the stability of the nation. The provisions appear to criminalize a good deal of Indonesian culture and will undoubtedly have a significant impact on tourism. For these reasons alone the current format of the bill needs to be re-worked in order to make the bill enforceable and not controversial. The provision provide for a little more than just prohibiting the publication of magazines like Playboy.
The bill poses significant threats to privacy as well.
There is opposition to the bill. Unfortunately, this opposition does not appear to be well-marshaled and it would seem the bill's supporters are likely to be bulldozing this through the Special Committee and to a vote on the floor.
Interestingly, Golkar through one of its lawmakers has suggested that the best course of action that may induce a rethink is if there was spontaneous rallies that provided vocal opposition to the bill.
The biggest issue is that the bill regulates morality. There will always be legal questions as to how far a government can go in regulating the morality of its citizens, particularly in the private sphere. The morality issue then gives rise to questions such as whose morals and how are these morals to be defined? To name but a few. There is little doubt that people support the idea of restricting or prohibiting access to pornography and indecency. What is in doubt is whether the current definition of either of the key terms is suitable for the purpose.
Another important question is whether there is a need for a specific pornography and indecency law. Most legal scholars would agree that the key offenses are already regulated in existing legislation, including the Criminal Code, Child Protection Law, and the Cyber Law (ITE). Some might argue that this is a lex spesialis law that deals with a very particular set of circumstances and offenses. However, this argument is moot in the sense that there are no arguments can be made that the provisions are not anything but mere duplication of provisions contained elsewhere.
With a definition of pornography like this:
"Pornography is any work that includes sexual materials in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversations or any other form of communicative message"
it is little wonder that people have concerns.
Even greater concerns arise when the issue of enforcement is discussed. The bill would seem to allow an interpretation that suggest vigilante justice is permissible. The relevant provisions suggest that the community may take preventive measures. This is clearly different from the community having a mere reporting role where they suspect a breach may have occurred. If this indeed is an acceptable interpretation then you are going to have unqualified individuals and groups making legal determinations with regards to what constitutes pornography and indecency.
The stoning of Playboy's offices and the forcible closures of bars, pubs, and entertainment venues is just the beginning. Other places of indecency and pornography are likely to include museums and theaters.
A cold change is definitely in the air!