E18: Illegal Food, Water & Data Leaks & - Parliament Update

On this episode of Indonesia In-depth Podcast, I provide a status update on several draft bills in parliament such as the Food and Drug Bill, the Water Bill and also provide information effort to pass to the Data Privacy Protection Law in Indonesia. Here are the key takeaways:

Status Update From The Last House Session

  • Unfortunately, not much progress or productivity with regards to deliberating and passing bills on the National Legislation Program or Prolegnas, as it’s locally called. The Prolegas is the list of priority bills that parliament will focus on for each year.

  • Not all was lost though. The Non-Tax State Revenue Bill, locally known as the PNBP Bill, was passed into law in the last session. The bill reportedly was designed to ensure transparent, professional and accountable government’s services. The law also gives the authority to the finance minister on non-tax tariffs. Tariffs will now be regulated through a finance ministry regulation rather than a government regulation. Also included, is increased sanctions for non-tax payers violators by a fourfold. Those are the main takeaways, in my opinion.

  • Lawmakers have been criticized not only for the slow progress with the Prolegnas, but also for often producing low-quality laws as several bills (or their articles) have been challenged in the Constitutional Court and many have been annulled. This has been a problem for years and some experts believe the situation has only worsened. There are a number of laws that been affected by this, with the Transportation Law being the most recent example.

  • As a result of slow progress, the Following bills have been extended into the next session, which began on August 16th.

  •  There’s a lot to discuss on this list but I’ll pick just a few to provide you with some insights.

Food & Drug Bill

  • This bill has been very slow moving in House deliberations. The main points in this bill are to crack down on the widespread sale of prescription drugs and cosmetics online, both genuine and counterfeit. Currently there is no oversight for this and it’s been a free for all basically as the products have not been certified by the National Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM). The government stakeholders hope that the sale of all prescription drugs will be banned online and rely instead on pharmacies that are regulated and registered. Traditional and branded cosmetics however would be allowed to be bought and sold online under the current bill if they have a permit from BPOM.

  • This bill is also is aimed at reducing the inflows of prescription drugs and food products coming into Indonesia illegally through its borders. This comes at a time when many small retailers have been caught selling illegally imported food products. All of these cases put Indonesian consumers safety at risk. 

  • The current draft bill intends to strengthen the authority of the National Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) while at the same time, synchronizing the various regulations related to the supervision of drugs and food in Indonesia. I’ll keep and eye on this bill and provide an update if there are any major changes in this current House session. 

Criminal Code Bill

  • I covered this bill previously and there are still a lot of deliberations going on when it comes to this bill. I’ll try and meet the bill’s authors and get their insights but as of right now, it’s still slow going but there are very, very important articles in this bill that could affect a lot of people.

Data Privacy Protection Bill

  • The Data Privacy Bill is not on the priority list or Prolegnas but I’m providing an update because two podcast listeners have asked me about it.

  • The bill is not being deliberated at this time and both the government and the parliament blame each other for this bill’s lack of progress. This bill is the domain of Commission I in parliament and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights and the Ministry of Information and Communication in the government. 

  • No progress is expected on this bill this session and it likely won’t be deliberated at all before the final house plenary session in late 2019. This means it will have to wait for the next government and parliament. There is a draft from the communications and information ministry that has been sent their draft to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights for review in March. Last June, the same ministry told me that they are still holding it because the House’s deliberation schedule is already full with the priority Prolegnas bills. The government tells me that the draft is ready to be deliberated if the House had an opening in their deliberations schedule but they don’t. Included in the draft are articles that would provide criminal charges against parties who intentionally leak or steal personal data. 

  • Lawmakers in House Commission I tell me that they intend to eventually base the bill on the UK’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, as its known. The GDPR provides consumer rights when it comes to data protection such as having to “opt-in” when sharing information as well as the so-called “right to be forgotten” where consumers data can be “erased” if requested and many, many other important points.

  • Although there have been several instances where Indonesians have been affected by data privacy and data protection violations such as the leaking of millions of user IDs that were registered for pre-pay mobile SIM cards and of course, the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal which over one million Indonesian users may have their data accessed. Some experts also worry about how data from both instances could be misused during next year’s general and presidential election. 

  • Currently, there is no Data Privacy Protection Law in Indonesia and in the meantime, the government is relying on the Ministerial Regulation No. 20/2016 and the Information and Electronic Transmission Law, however it lacks adequate protection for consumers. Countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines are ahead of Indonesia when it comes to such a law. 

The Water Bill

  • I covered the water bill previously but just want to give you an update, as this is an important bill. The bill continues to be deliberated in parliament by House Commission V. 

  • The aspects of the bill remain the same, basically that water is a natural resource that will be controlled and managed by the State for the people. The private sector would only be able to exploit this resource once all of the needs of the people are fulfilled.

  • Under the current draft, all water sources must be continuously accessible to the public regardless if the private sector has permits for it. 

  • Also important are the articles that state that the private sector must partner with either a SOE or a local government owned enterprise if they wish to use the resource for their businesses. It still remains unclear how this would work in practice. 

  • In addition to this, bottled water businesses would be required to a special allocation 10% of net profit for the cost of conserving springs.

  • Bottle water producers and other business owners are scared to death of this bill and say that it their costs have already increased and that the new “10% tax” could put some out of business completely. This is a bill that businesses need to watch and definitely have their voices heard now, before the bill is passed. 

What Happens If A Member of Presidential Ticket Is Forced To Withdraw? 

  • The next question centers on the newly announced presidential tickets. 

  • A listener asks, “What happens if one of the presidential or vice presidential candidates if forced to pull out of the race for health or other reasons?”

  • President Widodo chose the leader of the PBNU (Nahdatul Ulama’s central board) and chairman of the Indonesian Ulama Council, Ma’ruf Amin, as his VP candidate and Prabowo Subianto finally declared his candidacy and chose the former Jakarta deputy governor and businessman, Sandiaga Uno, as his running mate. 

  • According to the Law No. 7/2017 and the General Elections Commission (KPU) regulations, if a candidate is unable to continue prior to 60 days before the election, they must submit a legal document to the KPU stating that he/she is permanently unable to carry about the tasks as a candidate. 

  • The party or coalition of parties that nominated the candidate are allowed to chose a new candidate within seven days but, the parties are unable to change their tickets or switch coalitions. Now, what happens if a candidates withdraws with less than 60 days before the election, that’s not very clear. Perhaps the KPU will make an executive decision. A lot could happen with two months before the election so I’ll try and find out and provide and update in a future episode. Everyone should just stay healthy until Election Day and it will make things easier.

    Hosts: Shawn Corrigan & Tanita
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    The episode is produced by LEXICO Indonesia, a political risk advisory base din Jakarta.