Jakarta governor to take protesters’ demand to repeal labour law to President Widodo

JAKARTA: The governor of Indonesia’s capital on Friday (Oct 9) said he would inform President Joko Widodo of protesters’ demand for a polarising new labour law to be repealed, as a growing number of regional leaders oppose the new legislation.

Thousands took to the streets of cities across Indonesia in the past three days, part of protests and national strikes against a law they say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections.

Clashes erupted in some cities, including in Jakarta where protesters burnt public transport facilities and damaged police posts.

“Yesterday I also met with the protesters and we had brief discussion with them, I’d told them that we had listened to your voices and I will convey the message,” Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan told Reuters. He did not go as far as saying he would join the call for the law to be repealed.

At least four other governors have told protesters they would write to the president asking for the law to be cancelled, according to their statements and local media reports.

Repealing the law would prevent further clashes “that could create prolong instability amid a pandemic and an economic recession”, West Kalimantan Govenor Sutarmidji said in a statement.

The president has yet to make any public statement following Monday’s passage of the jobs bill into law, but his ministers have defended it, saying protests were triggered by false news and that the legislation would improve people’s welfare by welcoming more investment.

Jakarta police on Thursday detained about 1,000 demonstrators, while hundreds were arrested in other cities.

Most of those detained were released by Friday morning, Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said.

Police did not expect a fourth day of protests in the capital on Friday, he said.

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Said Iqbal, president of trade union KSPI, among the biggest group behind the protests, said there no was planned rally for Friday, but another labour leader on Thursday evening pledged to continue demonstrating.

Jakarta resident Nathan Tarigan feared clashes would escalate.

“I’m afraid if the government and stakeholders of the state aren’t wise, don’t want to listen, something bigger can happen and the state can break,” the 50-year-old said.