The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and other hard-line Islamic groups may not be able to present the pornography bill as a “Ramadan gift” as the House of Representatives has delayed passing it amid increasing public resistance.

The much-criticized bill was initially scheduled to be brought to a House plenary session next Tuesday for endorsement.

However, a member of the House’s special committee deliberating the bill, Yoyoh Yusroh, said Thursday the committee needed to extend the deliberation period to discuss public opinions presented by several provinces nationwide.

The schedule for a plenary session to pass the bill into law remains tentative as the deliberation process is subject to change, she said.

“We still need to hold a series of discussions to accommodate more inputs after we have conducted public assessment (forums) in four provinces. We have set up a technical team to discuss the assessment results,” Yoyoh said after a meeting with the team.

The forums were held in Maluku, South Sulawesi, South Kalimantan and Jakarta.

She said people in each province were divided over the porn bill. “Some of them support our move to pass it, while others oppose it,” said Yoyoh, a legislator with the Islamic-based PKS.

PKS faction chairman Mahfudz Siddiq said last week the bill, which was presented to the House for deliberation three years ago, would be passed within a few weeks as a “Ramadan gift” for Muslims.

Yoyoh said the next hearings, scheduled for after the Idul Fitri holiday, would include meetings with the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the Communications and Information Ministry and the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment.

After the sessions, the bill will then be submitted to the House’s consultative body for further debate before the final draft is brought to the plenary session.

The bill continues to spark controversies, with some critics saying it threatens the right to privacy as well as pluralism in the country. Many of its articles are “contentious and vague”, they added.

Opponents also say the bill may spark national disintegration, and that it is not urgent as it overlaps with the Criminal Code and existing laws, including on child protection, broadcasting and the press.

Two of the 10 factions at the House — the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) — oppose the bill, and both walked out of deliberations during the plenary session.

Yoyoh said the other eight factions had responded positively to the bill during the session.

However, she said the bill was expected to be endorsed by the end of the year, although she could not specify a date.

House special committee chairman Balkan Kaplale said the House could implement a voting mechanism should the plenary session end in deadlock.

“Eventually, there should be a political decision after years of debate over the bill,” said Balkan of the Democratic Party faction.

PDI-P legislator Agung Sasongko said his faction had decided to walk out of the deliberation because the party rejected some crucial points in the bill. “The thing is, the bill allows the state to intervene in people’s private domains.”

It would be better if the state intensified the implementation of existing laws instead of formulating a new law that has the potential to create conflicts within society, he added.

Jeffrey Massie of the PDS lashed out at certain nationalist parties for supporting the bill, warning that they were putting the nation’s unity at stake. The Jakarta Post