Jokowi seeks to bolster police powers after Jakarta suicide attacks

President Joko Widodo (second from left) and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (right) visit the site of the suicide bombing near a Jakarta bus station.
President Joko Widodo (second from left) and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (right) visit the site of the suicide bombing near a Jakarta bus station. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesian lawmakers should expedite the passage of revised anti-terrorism laws that give the police more power, President Joko Widodo said after twin suicide attacks in the capital this week killed three policemen.

The authorities in the country have linked the explosions on Wednesday (May 24) at a busy east Jakarta bus terminal to militants connected to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mr Joko, known as Jokowi, said in a statement late on Thursday that he ordered one of his Cabinet members to "soon finish" the revision of the anti-terrorism law.

"I emphasise once again that there's no place in our country, our home land, for terrorism," Mr Joko said. "Other countries have laws, regulations, that allow law enforcers to anticipate."

The deadliest terrorist attack on Indonesian soil since January last year has reignited concerns over rising sectarian tensions in the world's most populous Muslim majority nation. The new anti-terror laws, which have been held up in Parliament for more than a year, would give police sweeping powers of arrest and the ability to detain suspects for up to six months.

The legislation adds offences, such as taking part in military training at home or abroad, communicating about conducting terrorist acts and joining or recruiting for a declared terrorist organisation.

The authorities would also be given the power to strip convicted terrorists of their passports and citizenship.

 
 
 

This week's attacks would "put pressure on the president'' to act, Mr Tim Lindsey, a professor of Asian law at the University of Melbourne, said after the blasts.

"Civil society is increasingly anxious about the President's position on hardliner Islamists." Mr Jokowi suffered a political defeat last month when his close ally Basuki Tjahaja Purnama lost a bid to become the first ethnic Chinese Christian elected as governor of Jakarta after he was accused of insulting the Quran.

Ahok was convicted of blasphemy after the vote, and was sentenced to two years in jail.