The Work Creation (Omnibus) Law in Indonesia: What Does its Journey Tell Us About Indonesian Politics


About the Webinar

This webinar will discuss the main contents of the 2020 Employment Creation Law (UU Cipta Kerja) and sets out to elaborate on the Widodo government’s philosophical framework for this legislation, highlighting what is labelled a narrow “growthist” approach. It also aims to examine the formal justification for the legislation as embodied in the Naskah Akademis (academic papers), pointing out the centrality of the idea of ‘Ease of Doing Business’. The political economy behind the universal support for this approach across all political parties in parliament will also be analysed. This will be linked to the numerical prevalence of small and medium scale district and provincial level businesses operating in political tandem with a small number of mostly natural resource-based conglomerates as the basis of the political elite, who in turn shared a common philosophy on these issues.

The talk will survey criticisms of the Bill, including those that led to the removal of sections dealing with education and the media. It also analyses the opposition campaigns undertaken against the Bill that were spearheaded by Indonesian trade unions and environmental and other civil society groups. Different approaches used among the trade unions will be outlined, with consideration for how these differences in approaches could have led to the failure of the campaign in becoming a powerful move to force the government to retreat on the Bill. The webinar will also include an analysis of the balance of forces for and against the Omnibus Law and what this reveals about the general state of Indonesian politics today.

About the Speaker

Max Lane has been a Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS since 2015. He is the author of several books on Indonesian politics and history, including ‘Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Suharto’ (Verso) and ‘An Introduction to the Politics of Indonesian Unions’ (ISEAS). Lane is also the translator for the Buru Quartet novels, starting with ‘This Earth of Mankind’ (Penguin Books) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer and plays and poems by W.S. Rendra. Lane has been an observer of Indonesian politics for over 50 years and has worked in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, including in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta as well as for the Australian Senate, including the Senate Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. He has also written frequently for newspapers and magazines. Lane lectured and taught at the University of Sydney and Victoria University in Melbourne and had been a guest researcher at Murdoch University. He also held a research position in the Department of Malay Studies at the National University of Singapore. He has guest-lectured in many universities, mainly in Asia, Europe and the United States.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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Mar 29 2021


2:30 pm - 3:45 pm