Friday, January 23, 2009

The apparent battle: The politicians against the pundits

Al Makin , MONTREAL | Fri, 01/16/2009 4:48 PM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post

Who is actually battling whom in the Indonesian public realm? Is the battle occurring between Muslim moderates and radicals? To some extent, this may be true. Yet it does not entirely portray what is going on in Indonesia.

Recall who supported the pornography bill and who opposed it. If we conclude that Muslim moderates are all annoyed by that already signed bill, and their fellow hard-liners are always prepared to support it, this would oversimplify the more complex reality.

True, this ambiguous and disputed law will fuel some more radicals to be vigilantes in the name of guarding religious morality.

However, if we take a closer look, this battle seems also to be between the politicians and the so surprised with this conclusion, as it's supported by the following signals.

Besides the voices from eastern parts of Indonesia, particularly Bali and Papua, during their demonstrations against the billwho else stood behind those voices? The answer is pundits, be they artists, academics, writers, priests or community leaders.

Their voices have loudly been echoed. Yet our politicians, the House of Representatives and the executive, did not listen to them. Our politicians have gone on their own pathproposing, drafting, revising, defending and finally signing that bill.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Responses to Gaza crisis: Self-restraint is needed

Al Makin, , Montreal | Wed, 01/07/2009 11:18 AM | Opinion and Editorial The Jakarta Post

The following may portray the way in which the Indonesian public has responded to the Israeli strikes on Gaza:

1) Condemning the "unjust war" (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 30, 2008) and expressing condolences to its victims;

2) Showing solidarity and making donations, which resulted in humanitarian aid along with the Indonesian Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) that reached Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 4;

3) Holding mass protests in many Indonesian cities; and

4) Urging Indonesian Muslims to boycott U.S. products (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 30, 2008).

The first response which emerged from various Indonesian societal groups -- politicians, intellectuals and religious leaders -- and which we have been bored with since the third day of the crisis, has demonstrated good educational reasoning.

Fortunately President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Azyumardi Azra (a Muslim intellectual) and Umar Shihab (of the MUI/Indonesian Ulema Council) all mentioned in their statements that any conflict or violence, regardless of its perpetrators, harms the most essential virtues of humanity.

In particular, Shihab and Azra both emphasized that it is our sense of humanity (not just solidarity among Muslims) that should lead us to show our concerns with the military operation whose victims already included hundreds dead and around 1,000 injured.

Shihab also warned of the irrelevance of the idea of a jihad to Palestine, as proposed by a certain radical group.