Scores of senior Bali officials and community figures on Thursday said they would reject the seemingly inevitable passage of the controversial pornography bill by the House of Representatives. IGK Adi Putra, deputy chairman of the provincial legislature, urged House members to act carefully and not pass the bill hastily.
The bill, he went on, was unpopular with the majority of citizens in provinces across the country.
“Bali still rejects the bill. If the House of Representatives go ahead with plans to pass the bill, then we will treat it as an invalid legal product,” he warned. Adi Putra is an influential figure in the local chapter of the Golkar Party, the second most popular party in the province.

I Gusti Ngurah Harta, head of the Bali People’s Component (KRB), accused the bill of disrespecting the very foundation upon which the nation was built: the celebration of the country’s multiculturalism and pluralism.
“The bill is not the result of a common agreement by all elements of the nation. It surely does not accommodate the country’s pluralism,” he pointed out.
The KRB is an umbrella organization of local intellectuals and artists. In mid-2006, it organized a series of massive rallies to reject the first attempt to pass the bill. The rallies triggered an island-wide rejection of the bill, which at that time was still in draft form.

The outright rejection, including by the island’s governor and councilors, coupled with widespread opposition from several other provinces, forced the House to postpone passage of the bill. But efforts by legislators to revive the bill were not swayed by this rejection.
“If the bill is ratified by the House, I will lead the Balinese in a civil disobedience movement against it,” Harta said.
The House working committee deliberating the bill is set to table the final draft to the House’s plenary session in the next few weeks, with many contentious articles left unchanged.
To date, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) have rejected the bill and boycotted the bill’s deliberation.

Legislators from other parties, however, are moving forward with the process. Golkar legislator Harry Azhar Azis said the passage of the bill was inevitable, given the reluctance of groups supporting it to seek a compromise.

He revealed that unless there were widespread rallies against the bill across the country, the constellation (on the bill) would not change. Mahfudz Siddiq, a politician from the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a staunch supporter of the bill, claimed the passage of the bill would be a “Ramadan gift”.

According to the bill, pornography encompasses activities such as artwork or poetry – expressions capable of distinct interpretations by different groups or individuals. Such a broad definition worries Sekar Sari, who makes a living selling artwork and handicrafts at Sukawati Art Market in Gianyar.
Her bestselling items are a wooden keychain and bottle opener in the form of male genitalia.
“Many people buy these souvenirs because their shape and form make them laugh, not because they are able to arouse sexual desire,” she argued.
Nevertheless, if the bill is ratified, Sekar Sari would have to stop selling such items.

Article 21 of the bill allows any group or individual in society to take part in preventive measures, which, according to Sugi Lanus, would increase the possibility of clashes between civilian elements of society.
“Some groups will use the bill as a legal basis to take the law into their own hands, and surely we will see those groups carry out raids targeting facilities that display “pornographic” objects, including art exhibits and museums,” he warned.
(www.the jakartapost.com Sat, 09/13/2008 )

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