Sunday, June 26, 2022
Reproducing Indonesia’s Illiberal Legalism amid COVID-19: Public Health Crisis as a Means of Accumulation
Rafiqa Qurrata A'yun (University of Indonesia), Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir (State University of Jakarta), Reproducing Indonesia’s Illiberal Legalism amid COVID-19: Public Health Crisis as a Means of Accumulation, 22 Aus. J. Asian L. 21-44 (2022):
While many nations have struggled to find the best strategies for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, the government of Indonesia has shown little interest in it. This is evident from Indonesia’s messy handling of the outbreak, which continues to worsen the public health crisis. However, under the framework of disorder that constitutes Indonesia’s illiberal political-legal system, where the rule of law is largely absent, the crisis is a means to the accumulation of wealth and power. Instead of seriously containing the outbreak, the government tends to make decisions that maintain crisis, as this can create wider opportunities to extend state power and facilitate rent-seeking interests. The issuance of highly contentious regulations—which pose serious threats to human rights, extend state power, and undermine notable post-1998 institutional reforms—in the middle of the pandemic is an example of this tendency. Among these regulations are the Presidential Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) on Covid-19, the Coal and Mineral Mining Law, the Constitutional Court Law, and the Omnibus Job Creation Law. The way these regulations were issued shows disregard for the principles of law-making process, such as transparency and public participation, and accentuates the illiberalism within Indonesia’s political-legal system. As such, Indonesia’s messy handling of the pandemic is not simply due to lack of leadership and institutional capacity; nor is it a result of democratic decline, as many have argued. Rather, it is an outcome of the longstanding illiberal political-legal system in which exploiting public health crises for predatory interests is inevitable.