Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Thursday he is considering revoking a new law governing the country’s anti-corruption agency, which has alarmed activists and helped drive the biggest student protests in decades.
In a televised address, Widodo said he had received a lot of feedback on the new law including on whether to use his authority to replace it by issuing a regulation instead.
“Of course we will consider it, assess it immediately,” Widodo told reporters.
The Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian initials, KPK, has prosecuted hundreds of politicians, officials and businessmen since its formation in 2002, becoming one of the country’s most respected agencies.
Activists say revisions to the law approved by parliament last week will hurt the fight against graft. The changes include curbing the agency’s freedom to wiretap suspects and creating a committee to oversee the agency.
Anger over the new law and a plan to revise Indonesia’s criminal code that would ban extramarital sex and penalize insulting the president’s honor have sparked student rallies.
Tens of thousands have joined the biggest rallies since 1998 student protests fueled unrest that led to the fall of former strongman Suharto.
Widodo has delayed parliament’s vote on the criminal code, which would replace a Dutch colonial-era set of laws, saying a new parliament should review the bill next month.
On Thursday, Widodo also said he would look at feedback on whether it “intruded too far into private lives and at other chapters, including the code on insulting the president”.
While the proposed ban on extra-marital sex has grabbed headlines abroad, the bill covers 628 articles in total and opposition in the country of 260 million people is based on a much wider set of concerns than sex.
The bill also penalizes teachers of Marxist-Leninist ideology and women who have abortions in the absence of a medical emergency or rape.