Responding to constructive criticism

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Timboel Siregar Advocacy Coordinator of BPJS Watch and General Secretary of All Indonesian Workers’ Organization-Indonesian Workers’ Society Confederation (Organisasi Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia-Konfederasi Rakyat Pekerja Indonesia – “OPSI-KRPI”)

IO – The President has invited people start to critique the Government. This sudden request has become a serious topic for discussion in various media. Of course, the President’s request is a good thing. In discussions held in the media, the primary issue is the safety of critics – both in terms of safety from legal repercussions, and safety from buzzer attacks (social attacks).

I believe that whether or not the President made the request, people should indeed critique the Government, in order to encourage it to work more transparently, more communicatively, and devotedly for the interests of the people at large. “Critique”-ing the Government implies objectivity and neutrality. It shows both the positive and negative parts of the thing being critiqued, as it is based on factual data. It is different from “criticism”, which reprimands with something negative about the thing being criticized, as such negativity might stem from displeasure from past issues (like the results of the last Presidential Elections or Regional Elections).

Critiques will generate improved policies for the people. Theses must be responded to with Antitheses in order to produce better Syntheses for the people. Objective critique based on data and a spirit of constructivism will in turn generate Positive Society (to quote Auguste Comte), Organic Society (to quote Emile Durkheim), and Rational Society (to quote Max Weber) from the expressions of the Indonesian people.

The primary issue about the President’s request for critique is more than just fear of getting jailed and/ or buzzed on the internet, but rather the Government’s response towards any critique submitted by the people. I note that the Government tends to ignore the people’s critiques and fails to respond to them, mak-

ing people lose the desire to put forth their opinion any more. This neglect of critiques proves that the Government is incapable of communicating with the people and explaining their own situation, in regard to these critiques. Furthermore, ignoring critiques indicates that the President does not monitor and evaluate his subordinates properly, as there is a clear impression that the inability of Ministries and Government Agencies to respond to the people’s critiques is not viewed as a problem by the President.

Critique of Social Security

As I mentioned earlier, many of the people’s critiques (and criticisms) fail to generate any response from the Government. In social security, criticism is mainly voiced over the fact that existing regulations conflict with each other, and some of them are implemented without any explanation or Text other communications from the Government. Let’s discuss one of these:

Government Regulation No. 60 of 2015 concerning Revision to Government Regulation No. 46 of 2015 concerning Old Age Security, in conjunction with Minister of Manpower Regulation No. 19 on 2015, basically conflicts with the provisions of Article 35 and Article 37 of Law No. 40 of 2004 concerning the Social Security System.

Government Regulation No. 60 of 2005 in conjunction with Minister of Manpower Regulation No. 19 of 2015 stipulates that dismissed workers can pick up their Old Age Security funds at the Employment BPJS without the minimum requirement of participation.

These two regulations caused a steep increase of 55% in Old Age Security claims, which in turn forced the returns of Old Age Security down from 2017. “Old Age Security returns” is the profit margin gained from in-

vesting the Security funds, which will be added to the funds saved by workers who participate in the Old Age Security program at the start of each year. In 2017, the returns were 7.82%. However, due to the above, the rate consistently declined to 6.26% in 2018, to 6.08% in 2019, and finally to 5.63% in 2020.

Critiques – even though more of criticisms – due to the impact of the two regulations have been voiced by Worker Unions and Laborer Unions… without any clear response whatsoever from the Government. Ironically, three years ago, the Ministry of Manpower requested input and assistance from Worker Unions and Labor Unions so that it can revise these two regulations and prevent them from conflicting with the provisions of Articles 35 and 37 of the Social Security System Law.

However, after the Unions went so far as working together to create a comprehensive proposal that includes a statement of support signed by their General Chairmen and Chairwomen, the Ministry of Manpower somehow lost the courage to submit the proposal for revision. There were no further actions from the Ministry, and there was no communication with the deceived unions that can explain the reason why the proposal was not submitted. Of course, the revision never took place.

After no news for so long, the current Minister of Manpower Ida Fauziyah finally brought up the issue during her work meeting with the House of Representatives’ Commission IX on 18 January 2021. She complained about Government Regulation No. 60 of 2005 in conjunction with Minister of Manpower Regulation No. 19 of 2015 and expressed her intention to revise same. Which is really her duty as the Minister of Manpower, because this Regulation relating to Manpower conflicts with

the provisions of the Social Security System Law, which is a higher-level T legislation than Ministerial Regulae tions.

xt Another issue that Workers and Laborers’ Unions have long complained about is the implementation of Article 28 Paragraphs (4) and (5) of Government Regulation No. 45 of 2015 concerning Pension Security. These Paragraphs mandate fees for Pension Security to be evaluated for at least three consecutive years, and that data is used to base the level of adjusting the gradual increase of fees to a maximum rate of 8%.

The fees for Pension Security have never been evaluated. This is odd, as the adjustment of Pension Security fees will support the sustained benefit of the Pension Security program. There has never been any explanation from the Government as to why Article 28 Paragraphs (4) and (5) have never been implemented for the people, especially to Workers and Laborers’ Unions, even though they keep on asking about it. Instead, Minister Ida complained about the implementation of these Articles and requested a roadmap concerning Pension Security fees before Commission IX, even though the Government should already have this roadmap since 2015 and implement the ruling since then. Having a clear roadmap for the gradual increase of Pension Security fees will help ensure the sustainability of the program, as well as procuring better Pension Security benefits for retiring workers.

Other than these two issues, Minister Ida further complained before Commission IX about unoptimized participation in social security programs. There is a large number of private formal workers who are not registered at Employment BPJS. This is actually not her part to complain, but to resolve, as it is caused by weak monitoring by manpower authorities

– which is the Ministry of Manpower’s – and by extension, Ms. Ida as Minister of Manpower’s – lookout. Workers’ and Laborers’ unions have long complained about this laxity in monitoring and enforcement. However, this complaint and criticism go unheeded, preventing many needy workers from enjoying the benefits of social security.

Let’s hope that the President’s request for critique from the people means that the Government is ready to review and respond to these critiques properly, and thus improve its services for the people.