Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan yesterday said that he would inform Indonesian President Joko Widodo of protesters’ demand that a polarizing new labor law be repealed, as a growing number of regional leaders come out and oppose the legislation.
Thousands took to the streets of cities across Indonesia this week, part of protests and national strikes against legislation they say undermines workers’ rights and weakens environmental protections.
Clashes erupted in some cities, including in Jakarta, where protesters set fire to public transport facilities and damaged police stations.
“Yesterday, I also met with the protesters and we had brief discussion with them. I told them that we had listened to your voices and I will convey the message,” Baswedan said.
He did not go as far as saying he would join the call for the legislation to be repealed.
At least four other governors have told protesters that they would write to the president asking for the legislation to be repealed, according to statements and local media reports.
Repealing the law would prevent further clashes “that could create prolonged instability amid a pandemic and an economic recession,” West Kalimantan Govenor Sutarmidji said in a statement.
Widodo has yet to make any public statement following Monday’s passage of the bill into law, but his ministers have defended it, saying that the protests were triggered by fake news and that the legislation would improve people’s welfare by welcoming more investment.
Jakarta police on Thursday detained about 1,000 demonstrators, while hundreds were arrested in other cities.
Most of those detained were released by yesterday morning, Jakarta Police spokesman Yusri Yunus said.
Police did not expect a fourth day of protests in the capital yesterday, he said.
Said Iqbal, president of the trade union KSPI, one of the biggest groups behind the protests, said that there no was planned rally for yesterday, but another union leader on Thursday evening pledged to continue the demonstrations.
Jakarta resident Nathan Tarigan feared that the clashes would escalate.
“I’m afraid if the government and stakeholders of the state aren’t wise, don’t want to listen, something bigger can happen and the state can break,” the 50-year-old said.
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