No Smoking in the House, Puffing Lawmakers Warned, 18/10/10

With lawmakers continuing to puff away inside the House of Representatives, Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo on Friday warned legislators to abide by a city bylaw banning smoking in public buildings.

Jakarta officials on Thursday began to implement the bylaw, issued in May, banning smoking in public buildings and forcing all smoking rooms in them to close.

Fauzi said the regulation was applicable to all areas and public buildings in the city, and added that he expected government offices, including the House, to comply. “The House is not in a territory outside the Jakarta administration,” Fauzi said.

Ridwan Pandjaitan, head of enforcement at the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD), said while the anti-smoking ban was a regional regulation it did “not only apply to the regional administration.”

House Speaker Marzuki Alie said House leaders had yet to discuss the regulation, but the legislature would comply. “It is true that we have our own regulations, but we must also obey the general regulations,” said Marzuki, himself a non-smoker. The House issued an internal smoking regulation last year, he said.

But Syarifuddin Sudding, a lawmaker from the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), and Nasir Djamil, a legislator from the Prosperous Justice Party, said legislators still lit up inside the building and regularly puffed away during hearings.

“I don’t think there was ever a notification from anyone in the House,” Syarifuddin said.

Deputy House Speaker Anis Matta, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), insisted that the House rule only barred legislators from smoking during hearings. “That’s what the regulations said. So smoking inside the rooms when there’s no hearing or smoking inside the building itself is not yet regulated,” he said. “If we want to ban smoking in the House, there should be a new regulation.”

Anis, a non-smoker, said the House could discuss the new regulation and put it in the revision of the Legislative Bodies Law that is being currently debated.

Bambang Soesatyo, a Golkar Party lawmaker, admitted to the Globe that he was still smoking inside the House building. He said he usually smoked in his own room or in the lobby.

“We will adjust [to the new regulation], we will only smoke where we’re not forbidden to,” he said. He said that once the rules applied to the House, violators “should have their photo displayed.”

Kartono Muhammad, a leading antitobacco campaigner and former chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), said legislators were shirking their duty. “They are the lawmakers, representing the people, and should have set a good example. Yet it is typical of them not to abide,” he said.

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