Saturday, October 04, 2014

Idul Adha sacrifice: Slaughtering democracy in Indonesia

Idul Adha sacrifice: Slaughtering democracy in Indonesia

Al Makin, opinion The Jakarta Post

According to both Christian and Islamic religious traditions and theologies, the important ancient figure Abraham (to whom all Semitic roots are traced), on the basis of God’s command, was going to sacrifice his son.

However, God sent an angel to replace this human being with a goat. Abraham then slaughtered the goat, not his beloved son.

We can learn a lesson from this old Mesopotamian mythical tale, which is still revived in both modern Christian and Islamic faiths.

God commanded us to sacrifice what we deem the most valuable to ourselves for the sake of humanity overall and for our own society on a smaller scale.

On every Idul Adha, the second greatest Islamic religious celebration in Indonesia after Idul Fitri, preachers standing in pulpits always reenact this old story before their audience.

Preachers present various meanings with new contexts. The greatest lesson of sacrifice of the most
valuable of our belongings is always repeated.

However, what we are learning in the current development of democracy, in the aftermath of the presidential election, is the egoistic, arrogant and selfish attitude displayed by the honorable members of the Indonesian House of Representatives just before they finished their term.

They had no intention other than evil deeds for the sake of their political interests. They wanted to take revenge because their presidential candidate was defeated in the ballots.

They have done what the common people would never have imagined, they were ready to take all risks to gain power and control over Indonesian politics.

Yes, they just slaughtered our democracy because they could not control its spirit in the people.

Unlike Abraham, who was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son, whose birth he and his wife had expected for a long time, the members of the House just sacrificed society’s spirit of participation in the direct election of their local leaders.

These politicians know exactly that the people understand their bad behavior and sinful deeds: corruption, bribery, dishonesty, collusion and vote buying.

They realize that to bribe hundreds of members of the local legislative councils is much cheaper than to hold political campaigns, which need a lot of energy, passion, strategy and money.

The politicians had no intention other than to kill democracy in the early stage of its growth, regardless of the fact that it has been nurtured by the people’s control, media and intellectuals. They want to silence democracy stakeholders altogether.

The consequence of the passage of the New Order-styled bill on the election of local leaders through regional legislative councils is that there will be no more local leaders close enough to listen to the people’s hearts.

The politicians seemed to realize that they could not directly compete against Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (the president-elect who is climbing the political ladder by serving the people), Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama (the current deputy governor of Jakarta who just boldly quit the Gerindra Party), Tri Rismaharini (the current Surabaya mayor who is making the city nicer and tidier), Ridwan Kamil (the popular mayor of Bandung), and others.

Yes, far from sacrificing their valuable energy, passion, time and money for the sake of democracy, our House politicians would rather kill democracy itself, just because their presidential candidate lost the election.

Tempo magazine reported that following their success in passing the regional election bill, they would likely revive the New Order tyrant oligarchy.

They want to simplify the presidential election and hold it in their hands and to limit the game only to the Senayan circle, so that they can play it like in the old days.

Yes, they did give the presidential helm to Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid and took it away from Megawati Soekarnoputri in 1999. When Gus Dur no longer followed their will, they seized it back and handed it to Megawati in 2001.

Only a few of the Senayan elite completely controlled this game, whereas the people, who they considered too young and immature, could only watch their actions through TVs and newspapers.

We now can guess easily the true intention and agenda of the honorable people’s representatives: They want to pave the way for the Red-and-White Coalition bigwigs to win their bid for presidency without the people’s votes.

They know that Indonesians will not vote for them.

This Idul Adha, we should remind the politicians, particularly the newly installed lawmakers, to return the people’s political rights and stop sacrificing democracy for their short-term interests.
The writer is a lecturer at the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University Yogyakarta and currently visiting scholar at the Religion and Society Research Center, the University of Western Sydney, Australia.


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