Editorial: Revoking Water Law Is a Washed-Up Move
Indonesia has again descended into legal uncertainty after the Constitutional Court revoked the 2004 Water Resources Law, leaving hundreds of legitimate businesses in limbo — perhaps even operating without any legal basis.
In the more than 10 years since the law was passed, the central and regional governments have signed hundreds of deals with private companies over water management, exploration, distribution, bottling and trade rights on the basis of this law.
Many companies have grown into big firms, as the now-defunct law provided them with the legal basis to operate, with several of them employing thousands of people. Now, the court has ruled that the law is unconstitutional. We can’t emphasize enough the gravity of this new ruling.
Are all of these agreements now also unlawful and thus annulled with the repealing of the law? What happens to the companies? Should they be shut down and their employees let go?
There are no answers yet to these questions.
Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second-biggest Islamic organization, and other plaintiffs insist that the so-called commercialization of water should be stopped, meaning the companies must cease to operate. However, the companies believe, rightfully so, that they have done nothing wrong.
There is real uncertainty now, thanks to the weak law-making abilities of the government and legislators. Neither can hope to protect the rights of the people if they fail to understand the Constitution.
While we agree that people’s basic right to water must be protected, especially from a monopoly of resources by individual companies, the state must also protect companies that have done business in good faith and provided jobs for so many people.
The government must come up with a legal framework to ensure these companies can continue to operate lawfully while it mops up its mess.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe