Halal Bill Rises to the Top Of House Priorities in 2010

Febriamy Hutapea

House of Representatives and the government on Monday agreed to put a
controversial halal bill on the priority list to be endorsed in 2010.

bill, which has drawn strong criticism from Muslim and business
leaders, requires all packaged food, beverages, medicines and cosmetics
produced or sold in the country to pass a halal certification test
conducted by the government or agencies appointed by the government.

Issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulema, the country’s highest Muslim body, halal certification is currently voluntary.

Mulyono, chairman of the House Legislation Body, said on Monday that 29
of 55 priority bills were drafted by the House.

“The remainder
are government initiatives,” he said during a working meeting with
Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar. Under existing law,
the House and government each have the right to submit bills to the
House for deliberation.

Other top priority bills include a
long-awaited money laundering bill, an anticorruption bill, a bill on a
financial system safety net, a nursing bill, an illegal logging bill
and an intelligence bill.

Ignatius said the House has set a
target of passing 247 bills through 2014. The last House set and failed
to meet a target of passing 284 bills during the last five-year term.

the 247 bills, 107 were joint initiatives between the House and
government, 101 were drafted by the House, and 39 were submitted by the
government. Lawmaker Arif Wibowo from the Indonesian Democratic Party
of Struggle (PDI-P) expressed pessimism over the House’s goal of
finishing 55 bills within a year. He said the legislature would
probably only finish 30 percent of those bills.

The House, he
said, should prioritize particularly urgent bills such as those
concerning legislative elections, election organization and regional
government. “Those are essential,” Arif said.

Indira Chunda
Thita, a lawmaker from the National Mandate Party (PAN), also doubted
current lawmakers would meet their five-year legislation target. “This
is an ambitious target because we also have to pay attention to our”
other functions, she said.

But Patrialis was optimistic about
the target, saying the passage of 55 priority bills in 2010 would put
them on course to finish. Without compromising the quality of the bills
set to be discussed next year, he said, the House should be confident
that it would meet this target.

“If the target is too little in the first year, it would give more burden to lawmakers in the following years,” he said.