Saturday, July 17, 2010

Status quo in Muhammadiyah

Status quo in Muhammadiyah

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Tue, 07/13/2010 9:36 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post

There is no doubt that Muhammadiyah, as a social religious organization like Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has played a significant role in building the nation’s cha-racter. Muhammadiyah’s contribution in education and public service has been written with a golden pen in the pages of Indonesian history.

However, after the reformasi period — in which political parties have taken a greater role in the national leadership — mass social organizations, such as Muhammadiyah and NU, have had to reorient their visions and missions.

Unlike in the New Order period, in which the military dominated national leadership and the birth of leaders from civil society were hampered, the reform period welcomed civil leaders to appear in the stage. Against this backdrop, Muhammadiyah has to reconsider its position in the national arena — whether the organization should play a role similar to that of political parties or recommit to education and public service by, consequently, distancing itself from short-term political maneuvers.

However, from the organization’s recent national congress held in Yogyakarta the aforementioned mission seems unclear.

The top tier of Muhammadiyah remains in the hands of Din Syamsuddin, a former Golkar activist who has never managed to completely cut ties with politics. Perhaps, due to his pragmatic political consideration, Syamsuddin’s position in the eyes of the public is often ambiguous, if not confusing.

For instance, in a move likely to detract votes from the National Mandate Party (PAN), established by former Muhammadiyah chairman and the head of parliament respectively Amien Rais, Syamsuddin lent weight to the birth of the Nation’s Sun Party (PMB), which failed to reach the threshold at the last general election. And in an apparent attempt to widen his audience among various Muslim groups, Syamsuddin attended and spoke at the “caliphate conference” held by the hardline HTI (Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia).



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