Reactions to Pornography Bill

Mar 7th, 2006, in News, by

A roundup of some of the current opinions regarding the proposed new law against indecency and pornography.

A senior religious leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Mustofa Bisri, warns that those who support the bill have to take into account others’ opinions:

The House should accommodate as many people’s aspirations as possible.

He added that the bill offered no clear definition of what pornography is and therefore confusion would arise and people would be fearful.

Importantly, as we looked at in Indonesian porn and on the scrapheap of history, Mustofa suggested that the reason the bill was being pushed so hard, so quickly was:

It seems that certain Muslims are so worried about globalization and are unable to deal with it that they are resorting to speedily passing this law.

Sidharto Danusubroto of the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle, PDI-P, said that pluralism was under threat as long as the pornography bill existed in its present form.

There are certain groups who are forcing their ideology on others.


The bill is not urgent because the issues are already covered by the Criminal Code.

Those “certain groups” include the Indonesian Ulema Council, MUI, whose spokesman, Ma’ruf Amin, said that the bill was urgently needed and claimed that the “the liberal-minded who seek unlimited freedom” should stop trying to block or change the bill.

He said that Muslim groups were not forcing their opinions on others:

There will be compromises for sure. We do not want the law to force people to cover up their bodies completely. We are not rigid.

Over on the island of Batam Ma’ruf Amin’s colleague, Asyari Abbas, chimed in with:

The concerns of businesses and artists are overblown. Let’s wait and see the benefits of the law for young people in Batam. We need to protect them from the everyday images of pornography and sex.

He said this in response to comments made by Batam tourism officials and businessmen that the bill would harm the island’s economy.

Deputy head of investment and promotion at the Batam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), Jadi Rajagukguk said:

The draft bill is like the seed of a disease, and will make foreign tourists afraid to come to Indonesia.

Jadi further said that even before the bill had been passed into law, Barelang Police had started warning shops against selling revealing clothing and women not to wear such clothing in public.

We heard that one shop opted to close after being warned by the police, and there are many shoppers at the malls who fear that the way they dress might cause the police to target them.

He worried about the possible decline in tourist numbers:

I don’t know what sort of numbers we will get next year, especially if we have this new law saying that dressing sexy is a no-no in Indonesia.

Chairman of the Indonesian Tourist Guides Association, Edy Surbakti, said:

For tourists from Korea, China and European countries, tanned skin is a symbol of pride, showing they have been sunbathing in a tropical country.

Anas, a member of the Association of Indonesian-Chinese in Batam, said his group was against the bill as it failed to provide details on what sorts of clothing and which parts of the body were regarded as “pornographic” and unsuitable for public display.

Some Chinese people in Batam wear sleeveless clothes and miniskirts, are these considered wrong? We’re worried about this.

Samson Rambah Pasir, chairman of the Batam Art Council, worried about the effect on the arts and free expression:

Several dances from the Riau Islands seem like erotic performances, like the Joggi dance, which accentuates the woman’s body, but it’s not nudity. We’re worried the bill will make people afraid to be creative.

Other associations which opposed the bill include the Association of Barelang Entertainment Services, the Association of Cultural Discussion, the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association and Batam’s Travel Tour Association.

And over at Indcoup (site gone) there is some useful background on the formation of the bill specifically on the role of Yusril Ihza Mahendra.

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