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Home Worldwide Indonesia June, 2006 Political experts …
Political experts say don’t put Pancasila on a pedestal

Headline News June 03, 2006 

Political experts say don’t put Pancasila on a pedestal

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Bandung

The much-maligned Pancasila state ideology, now championed as the cure-all for societal conflicts, should not be returned to its once sacrosanct status in society, political experts say.

Instead, they believe its five principles stressing monotheism, nationalism and humanitarianism must be implemented as a realistic way of life, particularly in day-to-day political decision-making.

The state ideology, drawn up 61 years ago by Sukarno and other founding fathers in recognition of the country’s diverse religious and ethnic composition, has fallen into disfavor among the public.

The authoritarian Soeharto regime upheld the ideology’s principles as inviolable and used them to suppress political dissent through systematic indoctrination. Anyone who opposed Soeharto was labeled anti-Pancasila, with accompanying associations of subversion and communist leanings.

Its principles were drummed into an unwilling and oppressed public in schools, universities and workplaces through mandatory courses. After Soeharto’s resignation in 1998, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) withdrew a 1978 MPR Decree on the obligation for all citizens to take the course.

Political expert Daniel Dhakidae said the public’s wholehearted rejection of the ideology in recent years contributed to a breakdown in society.

“We have had no stated values since then. Groups are now fighting violently to force their beliefs on others. The situation has become chaotic,” he told The Jakarta Post.

“To counter the problems of poverty and economic stagnation, Pancasila offers social justice. To counter the current disputes over beliefs, Pancasila offers pluralism.”

The ideology must not be reduced to fodder for intellectual debates, he added, but made part of actual political decisions.

“For instance, the state must take measures to protect the Ahmadiyah sect when it is attacked by other groups. That means that the state guarantees its citizens the right to their own beliefs,” he said in referring to the minority Islamic group.

He also said the government must review all regional regulations, including 26 bylaws on morality, sharia and pornography that ignore diversity and disregard all religions except Islam.

Another political expert, Mochtar Pabottingi, agreed the ideology’s principles must be promoted as tenets people could incorporate into their lives.

“Pancasila came from our founding fathers’ consensus, not from the sky. It contains the principles that are the basis of life for us.”

He added that Indonesians should not be afraid of applying Pancasila in their daily lives because the principles functioned only as guidelines, not a strict ideology, in a democracy.

“Pancasila in the New Order era came top-down from the government. But now, it comes from scholars and activists and other members of civil society.”

On Thursday, a group of activists, including Daniel and Mochtar, began circulating a petition seeking nationwide support to preserve Indonesia’s diversity through upholding Pancasila’s principles.

Mochtar said the public remained traumatized by the Soeharto regime’s manipulation of Pancasila to stifle opposition. “If the government imposes values on its people, then that is called indoctrination,” he said.

The chairman of the country’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, Hasyim Muzadi, urged the public to practice the ideology’s principles but added that national leaders should serve as role models.

“Under the administration of Soeharto, Pancasila was used as political weapon aimed at his political opponents,” he told the Post. (05/02)

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