Hundreds of musicians in Indonesia were coming out to oppose a draft bill they claim would "destroy" freedom of expression in the Southeast Asian country on Monday, according to The Guardian.
Many are specifically opposed to Article 5 in the draft bill that would ban "negative foreign influences" along with blasphemous or pornographic content.
Those who violate the law would face prison time or a fine.
Article 5 states: “In creating, everyone is prohibited from […] bringing negative influences from foreign cultures or demeaning a human being’s dignity.”
The draft is sponsored by MPs in the House of Representatives would seek criminal charges for musicians who promote negative values from foreign cultures.
But since Indonesia is home to a vibrant independent music scene, many are speaking out against the legislation, calling it stifling and ludicrous.
Jerinx, a member of the Indonesian punk-rock band Superman is Dead, is one of nearly 200 musicians who signed a letter which criticized the proposed legislation.
Jerinx wrote on his Instagram account that the draft bill would “and eventually destroy them" his rights of expression.
He also described the "high-level hypocrisy" of the government putting forth the bill while President Joko Widodo is known for being a fan of heavy metal bands such as Metallica.
The exact target of the bill is unclear but Indonesia has often been the site of perceived immorality of foreign musicians.
A television advertisement featuring the K-pop girl band Blackpink was pulled last December after the broadcasting commission said their outfits of miniskirts and short dresses were against moral norms and flouted decency.
Lady Gaga was forced to cancel a sold-out concert in Jakarta in 2012 after Islamic hardliners were threatening to stop her from deplaning at the airport.
Indonesian musician Kartika Jahja said the bill, which “came out of nowhere” was bringing musicians of all types together to reject the measure.
“Everyone is concerned because there are so many problematic chapters inside the draft,” Jahja told the Guardian, “For me personally the first one is the chapter that regulates the content of music, that it cannot contain negative influences from the West and blasphemy and so on. I think that is a very dangerous ground, if that bill is passed, to silence musicians because music is one of the greatest and biggest agitators for various social and political movements in this country.”
A petition opposing the draft law was made on Sunday evening and by Monday had amassed more than 65,000 signatures.
Other critics say the legislation would contradict Indonesia's 1945 Constitution which upholds freedom of expression in a democratic state.
Many have also spoken out against the legislation on social media, with the hashtag #TolakRUUPermusikan trending on Twitter, which translates as: “reject the draft music law."
An opinion piece published in the Jakarta Post described how a large portion of the world's most celebrated musicians, including Bob Dylan, would have failed the standards set in the draft legislation.
I Gede Robi Supriyanto of the metal band Navicula told The Australian the bill was: "absurd, but not a joke."
“Musicians have always used music as a platform for expression and social campaigning and to me this legislation sounds like the government is being defensive and trying to suppress that," he said.
“Most of our lyrics talk about environmental, social and anti-corruption issues. Does that constitute criminal negativity? I mean, metal, punk, rock ’n’ roll music — it’s all provocative. That is what it’s supposed to be.”
-WN.com, Maureen Foody
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