Subduing the Government

Dahlan Iskan former Minister of State-Owned Enterprises

IO – I admire the government’s and the Parliament’s enthusiasm. From a political perspective, this is the most powerful government for the last 22 years.

The current government is stronger than those in the days of President Gus Dur, Megawati, SBY, let alone B.J. Habibie.

Indeed B.J. Habibie was able to strengthen the Rupiah from IDR 17 thousand per dollar to IDR 8 thousand. In just under two years. But his term was only as long as a corn’s life. Habibie was so strong in his capacity, but politically so fragile.

Gus Dur and Megawati were strong in terms of a support base. Megawati relied strongly on the signatory of the declaration of independence who was also her biological-ideological father. But she lost the presidential election.

Gus Dur has a very strong cultural base, but also only governed half a term.

SBY was a bit different. Even though he passed the tsunami crisis and the 2008 financial crisis, his strong support and capacity allowed him to become President for two terms. If only there was no limitation in terms of office, he would be able to have three terms.

But his political support in Parliament was not as strong as that of the current government. In SBY’s time, PDI-Perjuangan was a frontal opposition. PKS was playing hide and seek. But SBY was clever at playing between these political currents.

Now only PKS is the frontal opposition. But its strength is very small.

Practically now the Parliament provides full support to the government. Starting from the changes in the KPK, the COVID-19 Law, and finally the Omnibus Law. Everything passed so smoothly in the Parliament.

Not to mention the question of daily practice in state management. I saw everything so smoothly. It’s so nice to be a minister nowadays. You don’t have to face the Parliament’s very fierce attitude.

I am so amazed by the power of the government now. Also in the spirit of reform: is this the mental revolution that was meant in the past?

I imagined how tired and complicated it was to prepare the Job Creation Bill – the official name for the Omnibus Law.

Especially how 79 laws should be reviewed to be summarized in only one Job Creation Law, consisting of 11 clusters and 1,244 articles.

In theory, the Job Creation Law would solve the collision of so many laws. To end the era of laws out of sync in this field.

So many have complained for a long time: how come the contents of the laws conflict with each other. For years, such scolding has become a national discourse. It has been so long that there has been no solution that this nation could only grumble. 

Thus, the government is currently trying to solve the conundrum, by merging them into one, to become this Job Creation Law. Meanwhile, the Parliament was not that fussy but being kind to the government.

But the workforce will surely rebel with the birth of this Job Creation Law.

From the beginning, it must have been known: it is the workforce who will be directly affected.

Therefore, the title of this law has been chosen which is the closest to the feeling of the workforce: the Job Creation Law. It was thought that with that title, the workers would nod and be amazed.

I could have agreed on any other name that is more honest. The main goal, after all, is to stimulate economic life. Then after the economy is developed it will have an impact on job creation is logical.

But politics does teach us: being honest is not enough. We must be clever too.

So in the future, the challenge is outside the Parliament: labor action. The Minister of Labor will have trouble sleeping. But this is beyond the capacity of a minister. This concerns national security and stability.

Indeed, all employers complained about the old Minister of Labor in the era of President Megawati: Jacob Nuwa Wea.

For example, how can this article exist in the law: an employee who is fired for stealing must also receive severance pay.

But in the new Job Creation Law, it is not the only article being deleted. But also minimum wages, personal leave, contract employees, outsourcing, and a few more.

The rationale is: all the old provisions do not make our workers competitive. The productivity of one worker in China equates to four or eight workers here.

Here the government must be able to convince workers.

The government has been able to “beat” the Parliament. We do not need to know what methods are used to beat these politicians.

Now we are waiting to see how the government can control labor unrest.

Maybe the government already has a backup strategy for that. So that my attention is precisely on the next issue: how can the government be successful in “subjugating” itself.

The Job Creation Law is not only about labor. The workforce is only one of the 11 clusters in it. All of these clusters create tremendous homework on the government’s table. 

For example, about the business licensing cluster. The rationale for the Job Creation Law is very modern. In principle, not all businesses need a license. The risk level of the business needs to be appraised: low, medium, or high.

A low-risk enterprise doesn’t need a permit. This is extreme-radical thinking. I really like thinking like this. Now things like that are no longer thoughts – they have become laws.

According to the new law, businesses with low risk do not need a license. Simply register. This is great. This low-risk business also doesn’t need to be supervised. Only businesses with high risks – the risk of accidents, the environment, and the like – need a permit.

There are still many modern things like that in the Job Creation Law. So, what I really worry about is the implementation later.

After being able to “defeat” the Parliament and defeat the labor movement, is it possible for the government to “defeat itself”?

Didn’t the apparatus’ zeal for money and objects of licensing out-weighed the latent danger of communism?

This Job Creation Law, although it has been officially enacted, cannot be immediately implemented, though. 

There are still so many government regulations to be made. 

Many of the articles in the Job Creation Law end with the sentence: for the implementation of this article, further regulation is required through a Government Regulation.

Even later, when government regulation is issued, there will still be a wait for an even lower regulation: ministerial regulation. Then there will be director-general regulations, governor regulations, regent regulations, mayor regulations, and so on.

All of that is part of the government which the government itself must subdue.