Reading the Indonesian Omnibus Bill on Job Creation


Recently, the Indonesian public has been shocked by the draft work of the Omnibus Bill on Job Creation / RUU Cipta Kerja. The Job Creation Bill consists of 15 chapters and 174 articles in a total of 1,028 pages. The government expects the House of Representatives to finish deliberating the omnibus bill on job creation by late August or early September, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said on Tuesday, 14 July 2020.

Teaser Image Caption
Illustration: New Omnibus Law with the Lady of Justice peeking out the blindfold

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At a glance, the spirit of RUU Cipta Kerja  aims to create jobs for the society (Article 3 of RUU Cipta Kerja). This spirit is aimed at the midst of "increasingly competitive competition and global economic demands".

The spirit to "simplify various laws and regulations" in one law has long been a public discourse. Amid the anxiety over the "chaotic" overlapping regulations, selfish stakeholders. Not to mention the technical regulations which make it difficult to apply for a permit in Indonesia.

The Job Creation Bill then became a public discourse when President Jokowi later used the term "omnibus law". "Omnibus Law" aims to simplify the legislation in one regulation.

"Omnibus Law" was later found in the RUU Cipta Kerja which later identified 74 Laws in one single regulation (Kompas, 12 February 2020).

Hukumonline quotes the "Merriam-Webster Law Dictionary" as saying "omnibus law" comes from the word "omnibus bill". Laws covering various issues or topics. "Omnis" comes from Latin which means everything. The concept of "omnibus law" has been applied by a number of countries including the US. Since 1840.

Therefore, the "omnibus law" in RUU Cipta Kerja aims to resolve the "chaotic" overlapping regulations, selfish stakeholders or technical regulations that make it difficult for investors to invest in Indonesia.

The spirit of perspective to fix licensing in Indonesia can be seen in the academic draft of the Job Creation Bill which states "Regulatorion arrangement will create ease of business and increase of quality investment in Indonesia".

Thus the "enthusiasm" to fix licensing in Indonesia in one regulation (omnibus law) can be accepted.

But juridical problems then arise. If examined further, it raises problems in the formal and material levels that are regulated in the Job Creation Bill.

From a formal approach, the process of filing the Job Creation Bill never involved public participation at all. It was then "present" in the parliament in an instant manner. Just like the Genie from Aladdin's lamp.

Labors working in a factory

While actually public participation is needed to provide input in order to produce laws that are democratic, aspirational, participatory and responsive / populist in character. Participation, transparency and democratization in the discussion of legislation is a unified whole and cannot be separated as a democratic state (Mahfud, 2011).

The public as not being involved in the process of drafting the Job Creation Bill then resulted in rejection from various stakeholders.

The labors rejected the argumentation of the Job Creation Bill which will abolish the regency / city minimum wage, the elimination of severance pay, the existence of a work contract for a specified time limit (outsourcing), the elimination of criminal acts against companies that violated labor regulations and social abolition. (Kompas, 9 March 2020).

In fact, all of the above provisions in addition to protecting the interests and fate of workers governed by Law no. 13 of 2003 (UU No. 13/2003). As well as providing certainty for violations of trade union freedoms provided for in the Law No. 21 of 2000 concerning trade unions (UU No. 21/2000). Even Law No. 13/2003 is also known as the "crown" of the fate of labor workers after the reformasi period in 1999.

Discussion on the Job Creation Bill on the “Labor” cluster was stopped. But then it was continued after the discussion of the other clusters.

Indigenous Peoples also reject the Job Creation Bill. Article 82 of RUU Cipta Kerja actually revives Law No. 1 / PNPS / 1965 Regarding the Prevention of Misuse and / or Blasphemy of Religion (UU No.1 / 1965). Even though the "potential" of Law No. 1/1965 can actually be misused to criminalize indigenous peoples when they reject the taking of customary forests. as well as it can also threaten minority beliefs/folks religion.

In the Environmental sector, the Job Creation Bill raises environmental regulation problems. Strict requirements regarding "environmental permits" which are "spirits", "pulses" or "the heart" of the Environmental Protection and Management Law (UU Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan (UU-PPLH) were then repealed in the Job Creation Bill.

Thus the "environmental permit" in the PPLH Law is a solution to see the empirical impact of environmental damage after Law No. 23 of 1997.

Besides UUPPLH is a "synchronization" of various regulations which born after regional autonomy implemented in Indonesia such as Law no. 26 of 2007 (UU 26/2007) concerning Spatial Planning and Law No. 32 of 2004 (UU 32/2004) concerning Regional Government.

If we look further into Law No. 23 of 1997 which only mandates in implementing regulations such as Law No. 4 of 1982, concerning permit for B3 waste management (Bahan Berbahaya dan Beracun / Hazardous and toxic materials) permit for disposing of waste into the sea and permit for making wastewater into water sources. Thus, the licensing mechanism is separated from the business or activity permit. So that the mechanism of "environmental permit" is the unification of all environmental permits, it is also based on "protection" and environmental prevention.

In addition, Law No. 32/2009 uses the term "ecoregion" as the placement of an essential ecosystem area consisting of "karst", wetlands (lakes, rivers, swamps, brackish and tidal, mangrove and peat areas.) Ecoregions are then designated as "specific germplasm areas and or endemic "(Article 9 paragraph (4) letter b PP No. 71 of 2014").

One of the victories of environmental regulation and a milestone in environmental regulation is the environmental permit. With the "environmental permit", it can prevent environmental pollution, prevent environmental damage and assess management performance by the permit holder. Besides "environmental permit" also aims to protect the environment ". So that it is expected to be "sustainable and everlasting".

Coal Mining
Coal mining in East Kutai, East Kalimantan

In the Academic text of the the Environmental Protection and Management Law / PPLH Law, the importance of "environmental permits" includes "procedural conditions", "substantial conditions" and "evaluative conditions". So that "Environmental Permit" is a form of control mechanism from the state and has the authority of "second line enforcement".

"Environmental permit" is a requirement to obtain a business and / or activity permit (Article 40 of Law No. 32 Year 2009). The importance of environmental permits is "great progress" in environmental regulation in Indonesia.

So that the birth of the the Environmental Protection and Management Law is the estuary of various regulations in the environmental sector. It is not wrong then that the PPLH Law is known as the umbrella law.

With the revocation of the "Environmental permit" in the RUU Cipta Kerja / Job Creation Bill, Indonesia actually returned to Law No. 23 of 1997 which is the decline of 23 years ago.

Seeing the importance of "omnibus law" which must be supported but then the inclusion of "substance" which actually marginalizes various regulations that symbolize "the crown" (Law No. 13/2003), destroys the progress of environmental regulation which places "environmental permit" as "spirit" , "pulses" or "the heart" in Law No. 32/2009 which puts it as an umbrella law loses its meaning raises questions.

Whoever put in the substance of the RUU Cipta Kerja which actually set the progress back to 23 years ago. The environmental permit, which was later revoked by the RUU Cipta Kerja, actually destroyed "ecoregions" ("specific and or endemic germplasm areas" consisting of "karst", wetlands (lakes, rivers, swamps, brackish and tidal, mangrove and peat areas) .

So, why the Job Creation Bill actually revived Law No.1 / 1965. Question after question continues to interfere.

Observing that the whole process is not transparent and does not involve public participation in the drafting of the Bill, making the work of the draft is far from democratic, aspirational, participatory and responsive / populist in character.

In addition to the material for the Job Creation Bill which far protects laborers' interests, marginalizing indigenous peoples also "revokes" environmental permits causing RUU Cipta Kerja to be "overtaken" in the middle of the road.

Ways to "overtake" in the middle of the road are often used by the losers who take advantage of opportunities, smart to look for opportunities around the power. They roam at the center of power.

They work and move in silence or are able to quickly change faces. Their feet are standing here and there. Left foot is here. Right foot is there.

Dasamuka (Ten Faces) a character in Javanese Shadow Puppet.

Their faces change quickly. Exactly like Dasamuka in shadow puppet characters.

From smiling and friendly welcoming the enemy in front, then stabbing them at the back.

From smiling like *Westerling to psychopaths who never hesitate wielding sharp daggers to kill.

They "overtake" the corner when the world and Indonesia are panicking and concentrating to face the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, who are these people?

They came to be known as the free riders.

They are always fortunate to "hook in murky water".


Musri Nauli is an Advocate, lives in Jambi, Indonesia

*A reference to Raymond Westerling a Dutch military Captain who is infamously responsible in the massacre of thousands in South Sulawesi and West Java in 1946

English Translation by Fransiskus Tarmedi