Papuan Election, Pornography

The elections in the provinces of Papua and Irjabar seem to have gone well, with no allegations of corruption or money politics making it to the news sources that I read.  Of course, some folks are still upset that the government decided to create the new province at all, and reject any elections as illegitimate, but they seem not to have a very strong voice.

One thing that’s been in the news these days–and which has a direct impact on Papua–is the Indonesian government’s proposed anti-pornography bill.  The rather strong Islamic opposition party known as the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS, Partai Keadilan Sejahtera) is a big sponsor of this bill.  We should note that while PKS is an Islamic party, it is not an Islamist party–it has no plans to adopt sharia law or anything like that, it just counts on pious Muslims for its support.  Its biggest campaign promises are always to cut down on corruption and to emphasize morality in governance, similar to Hamas in Palestine but without the commitment to annihilate Israel.  Of course, many Christians in Indonesia fear that PKS would try to introduce sharia if it ever held the presidency and a majority in the legislature, but my own view is that is a losing proposition.

The pornography bill, anyway, is supposed to regulate the spread of immorality in culture and the media.  It tries to define pornografi (pornographic images) and pornoaksi (pornographic actions) as two separate things that it will fight against.  The gist of the opposition is that most people are satisfied with existing anti-pornography regulations, and religious and cultural minorities feel that the bill may infringe on traditional cultures.  For example, will Balinese people still be allowed to bathe in rivers?  Will Papuans be allowed to wear their traditional dress (link not safe for work)?  Will traditional religious ceremonies with sexual undertones be outlawed?  Many protestors point out that the proposed bill makes no provisions to protect these minorities.  Another group of protestors believe that the anti-pornography and pornoaksi bill will repress women’s rights–one Catholic Indonesian friend referred to it as the "Arabization of Indonesia."  The proposed bill, in its first draft, made it a crime punishable by fines for Indonesian women to wear clothes that reveal legs, midriffs, and shoulders.  It’s not clear what the new version of the bill includes.

Here’s a quote from Din Syamsuddin, a proponent of the bill: "We are concerned by the moral
liberalization that will lead the nation to the brink of collapse,
unless it is stopped as soon as possible." 
Seems a bit of a stretch to consider that Indonesia could fall apart because of nudity in the arts and bare midriffs.  Watch this space for updates as negotiations about the bill continue.