Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:38 PM
The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Wed, 04/09/2008 11:20 AM | Headlines
Opposition to the newly passed freedom of public information bill is mounting, with several civil society organizations saying it does not meet the international principles of information access.
The Indonesian Press Council has said it would visit the Communication and Information Ministry, the Attorney’s General Office, the Constitutional Court and the National Police next week to convey its concerns about several points of the draft law, which is waiting for the President’s endorsement.
“The council will announce its stance and decide its next steps after the meeting,” council member Abdullah Alamudi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Alamudi did not rule out the possibility the council would support a petition for a judicial review of the bill once it was enacted into law.
The bill will only take effect two years after it becomes law. Alamudi said the delay would only allow political parties and presidential candidates contesting the 2009 elections to avoid transparency regarding their financial affairs.
“Some political parties are just too afraid they might be asked to disclose their financial reports to the public,” he said.
The House of Representatives endorsed the freedom of information bill Thursday after eight years of debate. Under the bill, state agencies and public bodies, including political parties and nongovernmental organizations, are obliged to disclose their activities, performance, policies, project plans, annual cost projections, working procedures and agreements to the public.
Indonesia is the fifth country in Asia and the 76th in the world to enforce the freedom of information principles.
The Coalition for the Freedom of Information, which consists of dozens of NGOs, criticized the bill for failing to comply with international standards on information access.
Deputy director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, Prayekti Muharjanti, said the bill was against the “maximum access, limited exemption” principle that calls for the public to have maximum access to information with few exceptions.
“In fact, the bill limits the types of information that can be accessed by the public, and this could confuse them,” Prayekti told the Post.
The bill also requires the public to disclose motives behind requests for information.
Agus Sudibyo of the Science, Esthetics and Technology Foundation said that in many other countries the public did not have to divulge any reason for requesting public information.
“The basic principle is that public information is open for the public, without any exception,” Agus said. (dia)