Indonesia seems determined to make itself a laughing stock in Europe.
After toiling over a draft of a new set of Criminal Code Procedures, thirty lawmakers, accompanied by the usual retinue of free-loaders, are setting off on a $667,000 junket to Europe to ‘study’ how the criminal codes there might apply to the proposed new Indonesian criminal code.
The only problem is, in their zeal, lawmakers want to criminalise just about everything with the new code. They want singles caught engaging in premarital sex to be sentenced to five years in jail. They want adulterers to suffer the same penalty. They want to criminalise the act of sharing a hotel room by two people who are not married. To each other, that is. They want to make it illegal for hotels to accept bookings from guests who fail to produce a marriage certificate. In fact, any unmarried cohabitation will be made illegal.
The draft code criminalises homosexuality. It wants to continue to prohibit membership of any religion that is not one of the 6 permitted by the government. It continues the existing criminal sanctions against atheists. One, Alex Aan, merely said “There is no god” on a Facebook page, and is currently serving two and a half years in prison for the ‘crime’ of atheism.
Witchcraft, ‘black magic’ and ‘white magic’ are on the blacklist too, although the definitions of what constitutes these occult practices, to me seem indistinguishable from what others might call ‘religion’.
Despite heavy criticism of this ‘study tour’, on the basis that laws designed for Europe will be incompatible with Indonesian society, the lawmakers appear determined to press on with their taxpayer-funded trip. A more cynical person than I would be tempted to conclude that a free holiday jaunt to the fleshly pleasures of Europe – and the boundless shopping opportunities to be found there – are actually the prime motivators for the trip. That thought had never crossed my mind.
But let’s assume that the 30 stalwart legislators are actually going there to learn how Europeans deal with those issues of ’criminality’ that seem to preoccupy and vex the Indonesian government. They will no doubt ask serious questions. But will they get serious answers – or just bewildered looks, a few shrugs, and a dawning realisation of the size of the cultural chasm separating Indonesia from Europe?
I would give anything to see the faces of their European counterparts when the visiting lawmakers ask, “What laws do you have to prevent consenting couples from having sex?”
Or, “What is the best way to punish gay people?”
Or, “What penalties do you impose for being a member of a non-approved religion?”
Or, “For how long do you think atheists should be incarcerated?”
Or, “What is an appropriate temperature for a fire to be used to burn witches?”
And I want to see the shock on the faces of the Indonesian delegation when they discover that lawless vigilante thugs pretending to ’defend’ their religion because they have the tacit approval of their government would be heavily penalised under the criminal codes of Europe. I want to see their reaction when they find out that those who burn churches in Europe, or assault and kill those who are not of their religion, are treated as violent criminals and incarcerated for long periods.
And yet, strangely, the proposed Indonesian criminal code seems to make no mention of religious persecution, forced religious conversion of children, and no changes in the law that states that any convicted criminal is free to become a lawmaker or high government official, as long as he has been sentenced to less than 5 years.
Luckily for many in Indonesia, the new code also seems to have inexplicably left out corruption as a serious criminal activity. Otherwise, once the new code is implemented, it would be difficult to find 3 lawmakers, much less 30, to take these ridiculous overseas trips, because all of the rest of them would be in jail.
But we all know that won’t happen. In the meantime, you guys enjoy your shopping and sightseeing. I look forward to reading your report of what you learned in Europe, and how you will justify using none of it.