Among thousands arrested in Indonesia labour protests, more than 100 tested positive for Covid-19: Antara

Students and workers held strikes and demonstrations across Indonesia this week to reject the new job creation law.
Students and workers held strikes and demonstrations across Indonesia this week to reject the new job creation law.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Indonesia's police detained thousands of protesters against the newly passed omnibus law, according to state news agency Antara, amid concern the gatherings could worsen the coronavirus outbreak.

Of the 3,862 people detained, 145 tested positive for the coronavirus, Antara reported, citing police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

Students and workers held strikes and demonstrations across the country this week to reject the new law aimed at cutting red tape to boost investments, saying the bill would erode labour rights and environmental protection.

President Joko Widodo defended the bill, saying the protests were fueled by "disinformation".

He said the country needs the sweeping "omnibus" jobs creation law to provide employment for its young population and those unemployed due to the economic crisis brought about by the coronvirus pandemic.

"I saw demonstrations against the Job Creation Law that were basically motivated by disinformation."

He urged critics to challenge the law at the Constitutional Court if they disagree with its content.

The world's fourth-most populous country is still struggling to contain the pandemic, adding more than 4,000 cases daily, with a record of 4,850 on Thursday.

The total number of confirmed coroanvirus infections has tripled from the end of July to more than 320,000 and there have been 11,677 deaths.

The virus's spread could be aided by poor understanding of the disease, with 17 out of 100 Indonesians saying it's unlikely they would catch the virus, according to a September survey by the statistics bureau.