Fresh protests erupt across Indonesia over legal reforms, Latest World News - The New Paper

Fresh protests erupt across Indonesia over legal reforms

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JAKARTA: Riot police fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters as fresh protests erupted across Indonesia yesterday, sparked by a raft of divisive legal reforms .

Several thousand gathered outside parliament to oppose a new law that critics say undermines the anti-graft agency, and a criminal code that would ban sex outside marriage.

Other controversial legal changes include making it illegal to insult the president and toughening the Muslim-majority country's blasphemy law.

At a closing meeting yesterday, parliament officially agreed to delay to its next term a vote on the criminal code bill.

At least two students have died and hundreds more injured after unrest swept across the South-east Asian archipelago, weeks before President Joko Widodo kicks off a second term.

In the capital Jakarta yesterday, some 26,000 police and soldiers were deployed while large crowds - including placard-carrying students and factory workers - chanted for change near parliament.

Military vehicles rumbled along the streets as some students hurled projectiles.

Many rallies, however, were peaceful. These are among the biggest rallies since mass demonstrations in 1998 toppled the Suharto dictatorship.

More than a thousand demonstrators were on the streets in Bandung on Java island. "I decided to join the demonstrations after I heard about the death of university students and that some were attacked by tear gas," said a Bandung student in his high school uniform.


Mr Joko has said he would consider revising a separate Bill that critics fear would dilute the powers of Indonesia's corruption-fighting agency, known as the KPK.

Ahead of today's inauguration of hundreds of MPs, Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto said bloodshed would not be tolerated. - AFP