Archive for February, 2008
[Previously published by Asia Sentinel (Hong Kong, China).
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Download PDF file Pandora’s Box: Shariah Law in Indonesia by Jennie S. Bev (Asia Sentinel, Hong Kong)]
Pandora’s Box: Shariah Law in Indonesia
26 February 2008
Special to Asia Sentinel (Hong Kong)
by Jennie S. Bev
A declaration that existing local shariah laws can stay in place could generate more shariah laws.
In November 2007, Indonesia won the prestigious Democracy Award from the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) for its peaceful transition into democracy over the last nine years. It was the first time the award, whose previous recipients had been Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Ky, had ever been given to an entire nation.
The association’s award, however seems a bit hollow after Home Affairs Minister Mardiyanto declared recently that the government sees no need to nullify some 600 shariah-based and -inspired bylaws passed by individual governments across the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago.
Mardiyanto’s decision was the culmination of a June 6 request to his predecessor to look into the issue of shariah law following a petition by Indonesian lawmakers urging the government to void such religious laws in local jurisdictions because they discriminate against non-Muslims. The decision by Mardiyanto to let them stand is being looked upon with alarm by moderates Indonesia because of the possibility that other local jurisdictions will be encouraged to switch to shariah laws.
Indonesia was established in 1945 by Sukarno as a secular nation under so-called Pancasila, a Sanskrit word meaning five principles. They included national unity, internationalism, representative democracy, social justice and secular theism. In addition, the country has not one but three officially acknowledged justice systems. The most common is the civil continental system, a derivative of the European or continental legal system. The second is the native Adat or tribal system, a complex system of community rights common throughout Southeast Asia. The third is shariah law, the Islamic legal system, which holds that there is an absolute body of laws outside the realm of human beings, ordained by God, whose final verdicts can never be contested.
Thus, since absolutism and absolute power are prevalent, such Islamic bylaws are in opposition of the 1945 Constitution established by Sukarno for Indonesia as a democracy. Articles 28D and 28I enshrine democratic principles in law, including freedom of association and assembly as well as the right to express thoughts by speech and writing.
Constitutional scholars say Islamic law does not fit into Indonesia’s democratic framework.
For instance, an Islamic law scholar, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, in Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law, wrote that, “If historical shariah is applied today, the population of Muslim countries would lose the most significant benefits of secularization. Even Muslim men, who are the only full citizens of an Islamic state under shariah stand to lose some of their fundamental constitutional rights if shariah is restored as the public law of the land.” Under shariah public law, freedom of belief, expression and association of Muslim men would be greatly affected by the law of apostasy and the ruler’s supremacy and power over the society.
When such bylaws are imposed in Indonesia, non-Muslims are considered second class citizens, in which fair treatment is hard to conceive. They would need to live under pledges of security or safe-conduct from Muslims. And with absolutism in the air, those who hold power absolute tend to absolute corruption, as Lord Action famously noted.
There are already examples. In the Padang municipality in West Sumatra, but female Muslims and non-Muslim women as well are obliged to wear the hijab, or headscarf. In Tangerang, located just a few kilometers from the capital city Jakarta, bylaws restrict women from walking alone in the streets after 10pm, or they face charges of prostitution. There have been incidents of wrongful arrests of female factory laborers who worked night shifts.
Although Aceh is so far the only province completely governed by shariah law, more than 50 regencies already are enforcing it. And with the Indonesian government’s failure to distinguish religion from state affairs, democracy is on a dwindling down path into the darkness.
Statistically speaking, although Indonesia is nominally 90 percent Muslim, fewer than 10 percent of them are fundamentalists. However, the silence of the moderates may imply agreement and with the government seemingly unwilling to maintain the country’s heterogeneous equilibrium, it would be naïve the world to sit back and believe that the world and things in general are heading for the better. A democracy award might have been too early, too soon, and too naïve.
The writer is a former law lecturer and an opinion columnist for The Jakarta Post.
[Read directly from Asia Blogging Network
Download PDF file The Urgency of Teaching Political Literacy by Jennie S. Bev (Asia Blogging Network)]
The Urgency of Teaching Political Literacy
Special to Asia Blogging Network
by Jennie S. Bev on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Recently, we have been hearing about many things in Indonesian political arena. Most of them call themselves as participants in Indonesia’s reformation era. All consider themselves as noble participants. They want Indonesia to be a better place. A better place for those who believe in their causes.
Such occurrences are understandable, even when fundamentalism and radicalism movements find it an opportunity to use the momentum in making their marks. The fall of Suharto in 1998, which was believed to be the best thing that ever happened to Indonesia at that time, has not been able to create a more trustworthy government today, despite the recent Democracy Award.
Today, it is very hard for citizens to trust their well-being in the hands of central and local government officials whose integrity is questionable. It is known that not all Indonesian officials are corrupt or untrustworthy, but a simple poll or survey could have been proven the assertion that many, if not most, of them are. It is an embarrassing fact that many officials, including those who are posted in foreign countries –thus are assumed to be of “international standard” in handling diplomatic issues with the host country and Indonesian community members residing there—have yet to show their best qualities.
Last year, in a World Affairs Forum seminar in San Francisco, in which Prof. Donald Emmerson of Stanford University’s SEAF was present, the current Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Sudjadnan Parnohadingningrat, was asked a simple question, “How is the current state of minorities in Indonesia?” He answered in an astonishing manner, which was an affront to his own intelligence, “There is no more minority issue, we now have Imlek (Chinese New Year) celebration.” Sure, it is a good point and it is well taken.
Another question was asked on the raise of radicalism and fundamentalism movements in Indonesia, which he answered, “Only one percent of radicals and fundamentalists in the midst of more than 230 million people who are moderates, so why bother? Let ‘the market’ determines.” As concerned citizens, the seminar participants were astonished. One of them was surprised, “Does it mean anarchy?” Still, he reiterated his answer.
Many of the seminar participants were politically literate people and we were disappointed to hear that. We know what to expect when one asks such a question. Alas, the Excellency Mr. Ambassador perhaps has been used to with constituents who are not politically literate, which could be in the number of hundreds of millions in Indonesia.
For us all, the citizens of Indonesia and the world, to understand how we are represented by the government, we need to educate ourselves to become literate politically. At this point, it might be a wishful thinking for Indonesian government to educate us because, apparently, many of the officials are not statesmen in the truest meaning of the word. It is very hard to find honest statesmen like the late founding father Dr. Muhammad Hatta and Prof. Dr. Daoed Joesoef nowadays.
Educating ourselves to be politically literate in a democratic country is quite simple. And by “political literacy,” it refers to a set of skills necessary for citizens to participate in society’s government. In short, there are abilities what we all need to master, so we can stand tall in front of those government officials who may have prejudices against their constituents and behave not in a respectable manner. It does not mean we aim to be a career politician, but to think and to act as an informed constituent. After all, those government officials cannot become who they are without us.
First and foremost, representation. A citizen is the one with power, hence being a constituent. The notion of a “government official” should be separated from the notion a “government.” In the minds of constituents, it is imperative that we see the “government” as a group of people who have received a special mandate from the people to act on their behalf. Thus, the real power lies in the hands of the people, in our hands.
Second, participation. In a democratic country, no matter how patriarchy the culture is, every individual regardless of age, gender, and other social backgrounds is equal before the law. Thus, when there are laws that do not adhere to this fundamental principle, they are not acceptable and we can change them with a strong will that are channeled properly. In the United States, the power of writing is one of the most useful. With people-managed petitions, there are many things that can be accomplished. Perseverance, of course, is likely to pay off. The key is a winner’s mentality in attesting our conviction.
Third, recognizing biased and “framing” statements. Politicians are notorious for their ability to say things with metaphors and pretentious dictions, as George Orwell said in his masterpiece Politics and the English Language. He said, “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.”
Fourth, the rule of law and legal systems. The simplest form of the rule of law is that no one is above the law. And the highest form of ethics is the truth. Truth must be honored in the highest manner, not dishonesty in any manner. In Indonesia, there are three legal systems –western continental, Islamic, and native adat — that clearly show how the society is not only stratified but compartmentalized. Horizontally and vertically. Understanding the history and how each legal system came into existence is key in understanding the current and predicting the future state of Indonesian laws and regulations. After all, a civilized society is one that is ruled by law.
At last, let me cite John Wayne who said to John F. Kennedy, the elected president whom he did not vote, “I didn’t vote for him, but he is my president. I hope he does a good job.” And by being politically literate constituents, we are one step closer to a more just society where people’s equality is not merely rhetoric but a reality for all to enjoy.
Jennie S. Bev is an author, entrepreneur, and educator based in San Francisco Bay Area. She has over 1,000 articles and 60+ print and electronic books published in America and Asia under her belt and was named an EPPIE Award finalist for excellence in electronic publishing under Non-Fiction How-To category. Among others, she has written articles for, been featured and quoted in Entrepreneur, Canadian Business, San Francisco Chronicle, The Independent, Teen People, Home Business, Audrey, The Jakarta Post, About.com, FabSugar.com, Femina, Fit, and Dong (France and Germany). She is a regular columnist for several publications and can be found at JennieSBev.com.
[Read directly from The Jakarta Post.
Download the PDF file The Power and Abuse of Language in Politics by Jennie S. Bev (The Jakarta Post)]
The power and abuse of language in politics
Opinion and Editorial – February 20, 2008
Jennie S. Bev, San Francisco
Language is a powerful tool in politics and politicians are its most superfluous users, both for good and bad purposes. As George Orwell once wrote in his masterpiece Why I Write, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
At the apex of such usage, the politics of amnesia, a term coined by Therry Eagleton, transpires. When it does occur, benevolent conscience is no longer apparent, nor mindful understanding of what truly has happened in front of our eyes. Because when such amnesia occurs, the language of politics has reached its most gruesome function: to kill and to win in totality without any recollection. The perfect crime.
Indonesia is no exception. Language has been used in an ad nauseam manner to create an environment of fear and insecurity since the beginning. While such manipulative usage is understandable to a certain degree, it is not acceptable when power-oriented intentions are palpable. After all, regardless of one’s ideology, a true politician is a statesman, whose interests revolve around his or her constituents’ well-being and welfare instead of obtaining as much power as possible. In an ideal world, the people must be protected, not periclitated.
Combine this phenomenon with Indonesia being a “soft nation”, a Weberian term as put forth by Azyumardi Azra, a notable Indonesian Islamic scholar in Indonesia, Islam, and Democracy, where democracy is still in its infancy and the majority of the population are highly affected by rampant patrimonialism, corruption, cronyism and nepotism; the tendency for unifying multiple elements from religion, religiosity, to politics, the power of political language is magnified in a manner that is indoctrinating and brainwashing. Above all, low levels of education, which is evident with a mere total of 5,000 doctorate degree holders in a country of 235 million in population, serve as fertile soil.
There are many examples from which we can clearly see how the political elites have been steering the people’s perceptions in order to maintaining their status quo. The term pemerintah, which is Indonesian for “government”, itself is a fallacy as it literally translates as “one who gives orders”. “One who gives orders” is a concept of complete opposite of “one who represents the people”, because when one represents, the higher power rests with the people, not the other way around.
The May 1998 incident is a good example. The term kerusuhan, which means “anarchic riot”, clearly indicates from whose perspective this condemnatory terminology was coined. If we closely pay attention to the actual happenings under the surface, the people who suffer the most are victims in the truest meaning of the word. Both the so-called “rioters” and the “riotees” were victims of an orchestrated political scenario. And, for all who possess some good conscience at heart, it would be more appropriate to address such an incident as a “tragedy” instead of a “riot”. The anarchic-looking incident was simply the surface of an occurrence, not the substance.
When we address something, we need to adhere to substance, not to what is seen on the surface. While it is acceptable to say it like it is prior to a full understanding, making amends at a later date is still not too late. The key is to think clearly before using any terminology, especially one that is steered — one that is used to frame an incident or a phenomenon.
In other parts of the world, such as the United States, politicians’ rhetoric serves both good and bad intentions as well. While rising political star Barack Obama has been able to use hopeful rhetoric in a bipartisan manner, President George W. Bush has been using the language of politics to place his ideological haughtiness in a narrowly partisan perspective.
Obama has shown how being an inspiration to “a nation in distress” gives hope and motivation to make meaningful change. Bush, on the contrary, whose rhetoric may sound utterly self-righteous, clearly shows a self-serving purpose that has placed the United States at its lowest point in terms of popularity.
Still, I would not judge Obama as a better man than Bush. Because, after all, both are politicians, whose language skills may differ in advancement from one another, but they are what they are, nonetheless. Unless, of course, time has unmistakably proven their truest colors.
At last, let us all try to comprehend the ruling elite’s tendency to use language to attain political goals, because only this way will we be able to maintain an awareness of politicians’ agenda, both hidden and out in the open. After all, we live in a democracy, which is based on the mediocre majority, as Aristotle once said. And such a claim of “mediocrity” or its antithesis can only be verified with time.
Whenever a political term is introduced, we need to listen to our conscience and ponder it. By increasing our political literacy through careful usage of words, we heighten our awareness as human beings.
The writer is a columnist, social commentator and an adjunct professor based in Northern California. She can be found at JennieSBev.com.
[Read directly from Tracy Press.
Download the PDF file Lauding the Late Tom Lantos by Jennie S. Bev (Tracy Press)]
Lauding the late Tom Lantos
Jennie S. Bev / For the Tracy Press / Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Jennie S. Bev mourns and celebrates the loss of a congressional crusader.
On Monday, California’s 12th District congressman, Tom Lantos, died from esophageal cancer. He was 80. The San Mateo Democrat was diagnosed before the end of last year, but waited a month before revealing he was terminally ill. He was the only Holocaust survivor who served as a congressman.
My heart skipped a beat when I heard the news about his death. Lantos was the first congressman who accepted my husband and me with open arms when we moved to the Bay Area. He was one of the strongest supporters of our human rights activism. This strong defender of human rights possessed the aura of a prophet who, until his last days, did not even blink to support whenever there were causes that he believed in.
Last year, he made headlines when he scolded Yahoo during a congressional hearing over the jailing of a Chinese journalist because of this dot-com giant’s cooperation with the Chinese government. Lantos spoke strongly, “Morally, you are pygmies.”
That was my hero talking.
I recall how he was very concerned whenever I shared with him the human rights abuses occurring in Indonesia and other parts of the world. He would ask his assistant to call me on the phone whenever he was about to meet people whom he believed would be able to assist the causes I was advocating.
For this, he had won more than a friend, but a loyal admirer and a lifelong constituent — a mentee. As a new American, I was humbled by his generosity and belief in my minuscule activism. At heart, he represented much more than a great nation, he was a representation of a sincere humanitarian and one of the strongest moral forces in the world. For once, I was able to find a people’s representative whose only politics was to make the world a better place to live.
After the news of his death, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, praised Lantos as “a bright light on the dark corners of oppression,” who used his position in Congress to “empower the powerless and give a voice to the voiceless throughout the world.”
Earlier this year, Lantos spoke to the media. “It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress,” he said. “I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.”
I am going to miss Congressman Lantos — my friend, my mentor and my hero. His legacy of integrity, courage, humility and being the voice of the voiceless will stay with me throughout my lifetime. If someday I have the opportunity to serve like he did, he would be my role model, in heart and in mind. And these tears on my cheeks are not tears of grief, but tears of joy knowing that he is resting in heaven. I shall continue your legacy. Rest in peace.
Jennie S. Bev is a Town Crier columnist, a commentator and a college writing lecturer. She resides in Mountain House.
Oleh Beni Bevly
Perdebatan mengenai Soeharto/Suharto agaknya tidak surut setelah kepergiannya pada Minggu, 27 Januari 2008, jam 13.10 WIB. Perdebatan sengit ini tetap berkisar antara jasa dan dosa yang telah ia perbuat di masa kekuasaannya selama 32 tahun, dan apa konsekswensi dari perbuatannya. Adalah sangat menarik untuk mengikuti ke mana arah perdebatan ini, apakah akan berakhir pada penghargaan pada Soeharto sebagai Pahlawan Nasional ataukah stigma/vonis sebagai penjahat kemanusiaan dan koruptor terbesar Indonesia?
Jika di tarik garis pemisah, maka ada dua belah pihak yang akan berdebat dengan sengit, yaitu pihak yang diuntungkan (sebut saja sebagai kelompok pembela Soeharto) pada masa kekuasaan Soeharto dan di lain pihak adalah mereka yang dirugikan (sebut saja sebagai kelompok penuntut). Pengertian diuntungkan dan dirugikan di sini dilihat dalam pengertian yang luas, yaitu semua tindak-tanduk Soeharto yang membawa dampak positif (menguntungkan) dan negatif (merugikan) pada pihak terkait dari segi material, moral dan edealisme, baik secara langsung maupun tidak langsung.
Perdebatan pasca kematian Soeharto menjadi sangat penting bagi kedua kelompok ini karena hal ini akan menentukan masa depan hidup mereka di Indonesia, terutama bagi kelompok pembela. Kekalahan dalam perdebatan ini bisa mengakibatkan tamatnya riwayat politik, ekonomi dan prestis yang telah dan atau sedang mereka nikmati. Satu-satunya jalan keluar bagi kelompok pembela adalah tidak membiarkan kelompok penuntut menang.
Untuk kelompok penuntut, kekalahan dalam perdebatan ini tidak akan berakibat separah seperti yang akan terjadi pada kelompok pertama. Pada dasarnya mereka ini memang sudah berada di luar lingkaran kekuasaan politik, militer dan ekonomi. Agaknya semboyan “nothing to loose” dan “winning is a bonus” bisa menjadi pegangan mereka untuk berusaha lebih giat dan berani.
Melihat peta politik seperti ini, jelas kelompok pembela Seoharto akan mempertahankan argumen mereka dengan segala kemampuan. Di atas kertas, kelompok ini masih mempunyai pengaruh yang besar untuk keluar jadi pemenang karena mereka masih memegang mayoritas kendali kekuasaan politik, militer dan ekonomi pada saat ini.
Sedangkan kelompok penuntut lebih banyak diwakili oleh mereka yang berada di jalur Lembaga Swadaya Masyarakat (LSM) dan intelektual. Mereka ini relatif lemah dalam bidang politik dan ekonomi, apa lagi dalam bidang militer.
Gelar Pahlawan Nasional
Isu utama yang akan diangkat oleh kelompok pembela adalah keberhasilan Soeharto pada masa sebelum dan selama Orde Baru baik di tingkat nasional maupun internasional. Di tingkat nasional, mereka melihat Soeharto sebagai figur yang mengangkat rakyat Indonesia dari keluar dari lingkaran komunisme, kehancuran ekonomi dan korban ketidak-stabilan politik Orde Lama.
Mereka akan beradvokad bahwa berkat Soeharto-lah maka bangsa Indonesia masih bisa bebas merdeka menjalankan agama dan kepercayaannya masing-masing sesuai dengan Pancasila dan tidak dikuasai oleh atheis-komunis.
Ia mulai dikenal ketika ia disebut sebagai perwira yang menginisiasi sekaligus memimpin Serangan Oemoem 1 Maret 1949 di Yogyakarta yang berhasil menduduki Yogyakarta selama enam jam sekaligus. Serangan ini menunjukkan kepada dunia internasional bahwa Republik Indonesia masih eksis.
Pada masa Orde Baru, dengan kebijakan ekonomi yang dibantu oleh Mafia Berkeley, Soeharto berhasil menerapkan sistem pembangunan lima tahun (PELITA) dan memakmurkan banyak rakyat dengan GNP yang mencapai rata-rata 7% setahun. Kebijakan Hankamrata dan asa tunggal Pancasila ternyata telah meciptakan kestabilan dan kesatuan politik yang mengundang banyak investor asing.
Selama karirnya di militer dan sebagai presiden Indonesia, ia mendapat penghargaan tiada taranya dari dalam negeri, yaitu berupa 12 bintang, mulai dari Bintang Bhayangkara Kelas I, Bintang Swa Buana Paksi Kelas I, Bintang Garuda, Bintang Jalasena Kelas I, Bintang Sewindu APRI, Bintang Kartika Eka Paksi Kelas I, Bintang Gerilya, Bintang Dharma, Bintang Sakti, Bintang Jasa Kelas I, Bintang Mahaputra Kelas I, dan Bintang RI Kelas I. Lebih dari itu, is juaga dijuluki Bapak Pembangunan dan Jenderal Besar.
Dengan 12 bintang penghargaan ini, Soeharto jauh melebihi kriteria dari seseorang tokoh yang bisa dikebumikan di Taman Makam Pahlawan. Untuk dimakamkan di taman ini, seorang tokoh hanya membutuhkan dua bintang penghargaan dari negara.
Di dunia internasional, kelompok pembela ini akan berargumen bahwa Soeharto telah mengangkat harkat bangsa Indonesia di kancah internasional antara lain dibuktikan dengan 29 penghargaan yang ia terima dari berbagai negara dan lembaga internasional termasuk PBB. Penghargaan ini di antaranya datang dari Inggris (Knight Cross of the Order of the Bath), Jepang (Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum), dan Arab Saudi (Order of the Hero of Bahder).
Penghargaan lain yang sering dibanggakan oleh Soeharto dan pengikutnya adalah Penghargaan Kependudukan PBB (United Nations Population Award – UNPA) pada tahun 1989 karena keberhasilannya mengendalikan penduduk Indonesia dengan program KB, dan Medali Emas dari FAO karena proyek ketahanan pangan dan ikut menjamin pangan dunia tahun 1986.
Dengan penghargaan sedemikian, agaknya kelompok pembela akan bersikeras untuk mengajukan Gelar Pahlawan Nasional seperti yang telah dilakukan oleh GOLKAR dan pembebasan dari tuntutan pertanggung-jawaban perlakuan Soeharto.
Lalu apa yang akan dijadikan “senjata” bagi lelompok penuntut? Paling tidak mereka akan melihat dari dua sisi, yaitu kejahatan Soeharto di bidang kemanusiaan dan di bidang ekonomi.
Pertama, dari segi kejahatan kemanusiaan, Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang dan Tindak Kekerasan (Kontras) menyatakah bahwa dalam masa kepemimpinan Soeharto telah menyebabkan lebih dari 10.000 orang hilang dan jutaan jiwa melayang. Mereka pengacu pada korban S30S/PKI tahun 1965, Penembakan Misterius, Tanjung Priok 1984,Talangsari 1989, Peristiwa Mei 1998, Trisakti, Semanggi I dan II, Penculikan aktivis 1997-1998.
Sebagai gambaran, dalam peritiwa G30S/PKI, menurut kelompok penuntut ini sekitar 500.000 sampai 3.000.000 jiwa lelayang. Data pers barat menunjukkan jumlah yang menjadi korban pembunuhan ini antara 500.000 sampai 1 juta jiwa, menurut Soedomo sekitar 2 juta jiwa dan menurut Sarwo Edhie, pemimpin operasi lapangan pada saat itu, mencapai 3 juta jiwa. Korban lain yang sangat menyakitkan dan masih segar di ingatan rakyat Indonesia, yaitu penembakan mahasiswa di Trisakti dan Semanggi serta pengrusakan, pembakaran dan pembunuhan yang terjadi pada bulan Mei 1998.
Hal kedua yang akan dikemukakan oleh kelompok penuntut ini adalah perbuatan korupsi Soeharto, keluarga dan kroninya yang telah menyengsarakan rakyat banyak. Perbuatan ini telah dimulai ketika ia menjabat Panglima TT-IV/Diponegoro di Semarang pada tahun 1956. Pada saat itu, bekerjasama dengan pengusaha Bob Hasan, ia menjalankan aktivitas extra-militer menyelundupkan gula ke Singapura untuk dibarter dengan beras.
Perkembangan selanjutnya, laporan majalah Time pada tahun 1999 menyimpulkan bahwa kekayaan keluarga Suharto dan anak-anaknya sebesar $ 15 milyar yang tersebar di 11 negara dan dalam bentuk uang tunai, properti, barang-barang seni, perhiasan dan pesawat-pesawat jet pribadi. Kekayaan ini banyak diperoleh dengan cara merampas tanah rakyat, dan menarik iuran tidak legal dari perusahaan-perusahaan swasta dan negara.
Hal lain, ternyata dasar ekonomi yang dibangun dengan cara korupsi dan dibantu oleh Mafia Berkeley sangat rapuh, sehingga ketika krisis moneter menimpa Asia Tenggara dan Indonesia pada tahun 1997, Indonesia bagai ikan tanpa air yang hingga kini penderitannya masih dirasakan oleh rakyat banyak.
Kembali kepertanyaan tentang perdebatan mengenai kasus Soehato akankah berakhir pada pemberian penghargaan pada Soeharto sebagai Pahlawan Nasional ataukah stigma/vonis sebagai penjahat kemanusiaan dan koruptor terbesar Indonesia?
Melihat peta kekuatan dan latar belakan serta “senjata” yang ada pada kedua belah pihak di atas, agaknya kemenangan tidak akan gampang dicapai oleh pihak penuntut dalam waktu singkat ini. Tetapi pihak pembela juga tidak akan berjaya dengan mudah mengingat pengertian pahlawan menurut Peraturan Presiden No. 33/1964 yang jauh dari cocok untuk figur seorang Soeharto. Peraturan in menyebutkan bahwa pahlawan adalah: a) warga negara RI yang gugur dalam perjuangan dalam membela bangsa dan negara, b) warga negara RI yang berjasa membela bangsa dan negara yang dalam riwayat hidupnya selanjutnya tidak ternoda oleh suatu perbuatan yang membuat cacat nilai perjuangannnya.
Dengan demikian, agaknya kepergian Soeharto tetap meninggalkan kontroversial untuk jangka waktu yang panjang. Kontroversial bahwa di satu sisi Soeharto bermuka pahlawan dan di sisi lain ia bermuka penjahat.
(Penulis adalah pengamat sosial, politik dan ekonomi, alumnus FISIP Universitas Indonesia, jurusan Ilmu Politik dan doktor dalam Kepemimpinan Organisasi. Lahir di Sambas, Kalimantan Barat dan tinggal di San Francisco, AS. Ia bisa dijumpai di OverseasThinkTankforIndonesia.com)
[Read directly from The Jakarta Post.
Download the PDF file Being Chinese is A Personal Decision and Choice by Jennie S. Bev (The Jakarta Post)]
Being Chinese is a personal decision and choice
Opinion and Editorial – February 12, 2008
Jennie S. Bev, San Francisco
A recent statement by Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, a much respected, loved and admired leading ulema and a former president of Indonesia, who said he is a descendant of princess Champa, whose son Tan Eng Hwan was known by his given Indonesian aristocrat name Raden Fatah, is a breath of fresh air for all people of Chinese descent in Indonesia, and those who believe in a multicultural society.
For once, a strong and charismatic religious leader of the majority has unabashedly and courageously broken the silence by being openly pluralistic and multiculturalistic. Gus Dur has set an example that being ethnic Chinese is not something to be embarrassed about nor to be feared; instead, it is to be acknowledged wholeheartedly.
Like Gus Dur, Barack Obama, a strong American politician who is on his way to becoming the first president of African descent, has also embraced his ethnicity with a lot of grace and composure. So has Eric Liu, a strong columnist, journalist, political analyst and a member of one of the most admired think tanks in Washington DC, who wrote the best-selling memoir The Accidental Asian. A rare personality of militant toughness and philosophical softness, Indonesian Army (Ret.) Brig. Gen. Tedy Jusuf is another exemplary case of a strong person with a multiculturalistic perspective.
While Gus Dur has probably lived his whole life not as a “typical” person of Chinese ethnicity in Indonesia, Obama, who has mixed blood of American Caucasian and native African, has consciously chosen to live in a black neighborhood in a Chicago suburb and to adopt the lifestyle of most African-Americans.
Liu, an American born whose parents were immigrants from Taiwan, has also consciously chosen to declare himself a Chinese, as stated in his memoir in bold letters.
Cited from his book, “Chinese civilization as transmitted to the Overseas Chinese depends, ultimately, on consent rather than descent. Chineseness isn’t a mythical, more authentic way of being; it is just a decision to act Chinese.”
Brig. Gen. Jusuf, whom I had the privilege of hosting during his recent visit to the United States, has shown how being a member of Chinese ethnicity is a lifelong pride that he will always treasure and is a fundamental cause of his cultural activism, which is reflected in his efforts to embody Tionghoa Indonesia as an ethnicity, as symbolized in one of the pavilions at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.
His achievements as a strong military leader and a member of a Indonesia-based think tank portray him as a rare blend of the so-called wun (intellectual) and wu (physical strength or martial arts) in Chinese philosophy, which is based on yin and yang. Above all, his admiration for Indonesia as his homeland has been echoed in his works and philosophical standings between the two cultures.
Embracing one’s culture, particularly one that is often stereotyped as “less desirable” and, unfortunately, during the New Order under Soeharto was considered a “criminal act”, as anything Chinese from written characters, publications, to bearing Chinese names was legally forbidden, might have felt like swallowing a bitter pill.
Today, people of Chinese ethnicity is enjoying more freedom in expressing their cultural traits, which is something to be grateful for. The new Citizenship Law of 2006 has also stated that those who were born in Indonesia automatically become “native” Indonesians, which sounds quite comforting de jure-wise.
With all those encouraging news, it is good timing for all Indonesians to return to our roots and embrace the missing pieces of ourselves with awareness that we are all part of the human race. After all, raciality is distinctiveness of one’s race or ethnicity that makes the world more colorful and beautiful, which should be distinguished from racism, which is a belief that one’s characteristics and abilities are determined by race. Raciality is something to be grateful for, while racism is something that we are learning to undo and unlearn throughout our lifetime.
Racism itself is an obsolete concept as the folks behind the Genographic Project, a joint effort between National Geographic and IBM, have been collecting DNA markers to create the largest database that would record human migration patterns and ancestral origins.
Eventually, this project will provide some evidence that all people from all races and ethnicities are related to one another, and that most likely every person on Earth possesses multiple DNA markers coming from multiple ethnicities. Eventually, it would prove that skin color is merely a small part of one’s genetic makeup, not an identity for belonging to a certain class, which comes with privileges, in society.
However, one of my Tracy Press column readers said, “Being ‘post-racial’, as Martin Luther King, Jr. once beckoned that he dreamed someday his children will be judged by the content of their characters instead of by the color of their skin, might always be a utopia.” He further said that he merely hopes for tolerance and acceptance for who he is, whose skin color is different from the rest of the population.
As a human being and a citizen of the world, I have embraced and acknowledged my three cultures consciously: Indonesian by birth place, Chinese by blood line and American by residence. I will always introduce myself as such because I am not just one of them. I am all three and something greater. I have a dream that someday, the whole world will transcend as one.
The writer is a columnist and a social commentator. She is also known as the motivator and inspirator of the JiangZhe Sianghainese Indonesian Young Leaders Fraternity. She can be found at JennieSBev.com.
Oleh Beni Bevly
Cover atau kulit muka majalah Tempo edisi no. 50/XXXVI/04 – 10 Februari 2008 yang menampilkan ilustrasi Soeharto dan anak-anaknya dalam konteks Last Supper (Perjamuan terakhir Yesus Kristus atau Nabi Isa dengan murid-muridNya) karya Leonardo da Vinci pada masa renaissance ternyata menimbulkan kontroversial dan membuat sebagian umat Kristen mempertanyakan ajaran Yesus mengenai “jika ditampar pipi kananmu, berilah pipi kirimu.”
Goenawan Muhammad melihat bahwa tindakan majalah Tempo ini memang tidak tepat. Ia mengatakan, “Menurut hemat saya, menggunakan tema “Perjamuan Terakhir” dalam karya Leonardo da Vinci jadi dasar tema kepergian Suharto sama sekali tidak tepat. Tema dan suasana “Perjamuan Terakhir” dalam lukisan itu adalah kesedihan, keprihatinan dan kerelaan di antara mereka yang tak punya apa-apa. Sedang justru itu yang tak ada di hari terakhir Suharto. Suharto tidak mati disalib. Juga saya ragu apakah kematiannya akan melahirkan keyakinan baru. Dan yang jelas, yang dibagi-bagikannya (dan dinikmati anak-anaknya) bukanlah potongan roti dan beberapa reguk anggur, melainkan kekayaan yang berlimpah-limpah, yang didapat karena kekuasaan politik.”
Adalah benar bahwa mayoritas umat Kristen setuju dengan pendapat Goenawan Muhamad di atas. Sebagian dari mereka, seperti yang beredar di mailing list, juga berpendapat bahwa umat Kristen di Indonesia cenderung bersifat menerima bila dianiaya dan dihina. Ada yang mengatakan bahwa ini adalah cobaan dan ada juga yang dengan nada sinis mengatakan bahwa Yesus memang mengajarkan supaya muridnya untuk bersikap pasrah dengan mengambil ayat “Jika pipi kananmu ditampar, berilah pipi kirimu.”
Di bawah adalah dua pernyataan yang saya kutip:
Orang Kristen kan selalu menganut falsafah Jawa, nrimo. Ditampar pipi kanan pun malah disuruh menampar pipi kirinya lagi. bila mungkin malah digebuki segala gak apa-apa. Ini cermin ketidakpedulian, masa bodoh, apatis atau memang sudah tak mampu lagi bersuara, biar pun itu untuk sesuatu yang bernilai imani? kalau orang Muslim langsung jihat begitu melihat gambar Mohamad di koran atau dikarikaturkan, agaknya orang Kristen sudah terlalu biasa dengan kondisi dilecehkan (Wong Gusti Yesus saja dihina, koq). Gitu barangkali.
Bukannya memang pengikut Kristus sudah diinjek-injek sejak dulu seperti pada waktu pengikut2 Kristus yang pertama juga pada jaman gereja mula2? Ini menurut saya lho, bahwa perlu bagi kita untuk merenungkannya bahwa apabila suatu saat kelak ada pengumuman bahwa siapa pengkut Kristus akan dipenggal kepalanya, mampukah kita bertahan sampai kesudahannya???? seperti apa yang dialami oleh murid2nya dulu. Karena Tuhan Yesus mau kita bisa bertahan…. sampai kesudahannya.
Selama ini pengertian yang dipahami umat Kristen secara umum mengenai “Jika ditampar pipi kananmu, berilah pipi kirimu” yang mulia adalah jangan melawan kekerasan dengan kekerasan, tetapi balaslah dengan kasih sayang yaitu dengan memberikan “pipi kirimu”, bersifat sabar dan berani berkorban. Di sisi lain, pernahkah kita mendengarkan dari historian yang melihat konteks ini dalam kehidupan sosial, budaya dan politik pada masa Yesus hidup? Paling tidak ada dua versi lain yang beberbeda dari yang kita dengar sehari-hari, yaitu:
Versi pertama, nasihat ini diberikan oleh Yesus karena Ia ingin menghindari pertikaian yang berkepanjangan dan merugikan. Pada saat itu, para pengikut dan Yesus sendiri berhadapan dengan para prajurit kerajaan Romawi yang banyak berjumlahnya, bersenjata lengkap dan sangat kuat. Sedangkan Yesus dan para pengikutnya tidak mempunyai kekuatan secara fisik untuk melawan. Dengan semikian, mereka tidak akan mampu keluar sebagai pemenang. Sebaliknya, jika melawan, mereka akan tewas di tangan para prajurit tersebut. Untuk “aman”-nya, “maka jika enkau ditampar pipi kananmu, berilah pipi kirimu” sebagai nasihat yang paling bijak pada saat itu.
Versi kedua, nasihat ini diberikan pada muridnya agar mereka berani berdiri sama tinggi dengan pihak yang menganiaya mereka. Pernahkah terpikir bahwa nasihat ini bukanlah ajakan untuk bersifat pasrah dan nrimo seperti yang sering ditafsirkan kita? Untuk mengasihi musuh kita? Pernahkah kita berpikir mengapa pipi kanan yang ditampar duluan, bukan pipi kiri? Jika kita hendak menampar pipi kanan seseorang, kita harus menggunakan punggung tangan kanan kita. Pertanyaan selanjutnya mengapa menggunakan punggung tangan, bukan telapak tangan? Diduga pada masa Yesus hidup, jika seseorang majikan hendak menampar budaknya, mereka tidak mau mengotori telapak tangan mereka. Penggunaan punggung tangan juga mensimbolkan penghinaan terhadap dan ketidak-setaraan orang yang ditampar. Aku pikir hal ini masih bisa kita temukan pada masyarakat tertentu, bahkan di Indonesia.
Dalam kasus cover majalah Tempo, memang protes yang timbul tidak dari seluruh lapisan umat Kristen, hanya dari Forum Alumni Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Katolik RI, Forum Masyarakat Katolik Indonesia, Solidaritas Masyarakat Katolik RI, Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Katolik, Pemuda Katolik, Tim Pembela Kebebasan Beragama dan Wanita Katolik RI. Protes ini tidak menjurus kepada kekerasan. Sebagian orang Kristen telah menerapkan ajaran Yesus versi kedua dalam konteks yang proporsional, yaitu menuntut kesetaraan dan bebas dari hinaan.
Protes ini ditanggapi dengan cukup bijak oleh majalah Tempo. Pada tanggal 5 Februari 2008 Selasa (5/2) Pemimpin Redaksi Majalah Tempo, Toriq Hadad meminta maaf soal gambar pada sampul edisi 4-10 Februari 2008. Ia berkata kepada media, “Saya sebagai Pemimpin Redaksi Tempo meminta maaf atas segala hal yang ditimbulkan oleh pemuatan sampul edisi khusus Soeharto yang beredar sejak Senin kemarin.” Torig menambahkan, “Tempo sama sekali tidak melakukan kesengajaan untuk menciderai umat Kristiani dalam pembuatan sampul ini. Untuk segala hal yang menimbulkan ketersinggungan, menimbulkan rasa tidak nyaman, menimbulkan sakit hati, saya sebagai Pemimpin Redaksi Tempo, memohon maaf.”
Permintaan maaf ini mendapat respon positif oleh Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia (KWI) melalui Romo Benny Susetyo. Ia menyatakan, “Karena Tempo sudah minta maaf maka kita umat Kristiani harus bisa memaafkan. Kemarin sudah dialog dan saling mengerti” (Suara Pembaruan, 6 Febrauri 2008).
Dalam kalimat Goenawan Muhamad, “Saya senang bahwa ada protes tapi tak ada kekerasan. Saya senang bahwa dengan tulus pimpinan TEMPO minta maaf, dan Sekjen KWI memberikan maafnya. Itu tanda kita masih bersedia menjaga peradaban.”
Dr. Beni Bevly holds BA in Political Science, MBA in Marketing, and DBA in Organizational Leadership. He is the founder of Overseas Think Tank for Indonesia.
By Beni Bevly
Many people, including human right and environmental activists perceive former Jakarta Governor and 2009 presidential candidate Sutiyoso, also called Bang (Brother) Yos in Batavia dialect as a controversial, unpopular and even tarnished politician. How would you perceive him if you have a chance to discuss and confront him face to face for more than 5 hours? Will your perception change? Will you vote for him? I do not mean to endorse any body to be the next Indonesia president through this article.
On January 5, 2008, several colleagues and I confronted him face to face on the subject of the past, current and future issues regarding himself and Indonesia in San Francisco for 5 hours 30 minutes, from 7:00 PM to 12:30 AM. My impression he was very relentless with his arguments. His answers were mostly and exactly alike what I witnessed from an interview conducted in August 2007 by Peter F Gontha on QTV, an Indonesian TV channel. The differences when he was interviewed by Gontha, he had not yet declared that he would run for president in 2009 presidential election and why he made that decision, and the other difference was the words he used were softer.
My perception did not change after discussing with him; even his arguments made my perception became “reality”. To me, he is the mirror of the past and current of Indonesia, and probably he will be the mirror for the future of Indonesia too.
In the past he, as Lieutenant General, was indistinguishable with Indonesia politics known as bureaucratic authoritarian under Orde Baru regime. By a bureaucratic-authoritarian regime, I mean a nation that is ruled by a leader who has power that is concentrated in his hands only, while government itself is administered by relying on bureaucratic and coercive forces (Guillermo, 1988). In this period, just like most of people who served in ABRI (Indonesia’s Armed Forces), Sutiyoso carried out Soeharto’s command against PKI (Indonesia Communist Party), to subjugate Timor Timur, and oppress political opponents or activists. He was a part of Indonesia bureaucratic authoritarian government where military was the main tool to govern.
Sutiyoso’s integrity and honesty were questioned by human right activists because he pointed out there were only 5 people died on July 27, 1996 conflict and there were no direct victims from that incident. The conflict between Soeryadi backed by military and Megawati who competed to occupy PDI’s (Indonesia Democratic Party) office in Jakarta that involved huge of mass and pushed out Megawati from her office was estimated many people died, buried underneath the office and hundreds disappeared by human right activists. He convinced me he was clean by presenting the fact that President Megawati still appointed him to be the Governor of Jakarta.
In other occasion, Sutiyoso was challenged by overseas police. In May 2007, when he was at his hotel in Australia, there was an arrest warrant issued by Australia Government for Sutiyoso who was suspected of involving in killing 5 journalists in 1975 — known as Balibo Five — when he was a captain who led an operation in Timor Timur (East Timor/the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste). He denied the accusation and mentioned he was never assigned to Balibo. He demanded Australia government send an apology letter to him, which had been fulfilled by the government.
Sutiyoso also reflects the current situation in Indonesia; which is chaos. Now, Indonesia government tends to do nothing with people who break the law. They accede to the anarchy happen. For example, the government allows Aceh, one of the provinces, to adopt Sharia Law instead of implementing national law. Some Islam organizations such as FPI (Islam Liberation Front) and its members have been shutting down entertainment centers and churches. They have been acting as if they were police and have the right to do so.
On the other side, government is not identical with problem solver. In certain level, people perceive them as a part of the problems.
Sutiyoso is also portrayed as a figure who did not solved the main problem in Jakarta, traffic jam. Many people are still blaming Sutiyoso for that. Instead of creating smooth driving condition, he created bus way system that took over half of the width of Jakarta main streets. He said that was his initial and visible first project other than sub way, waterway, and monorail projects. If he does not do anything, there will be stagnant in Jakarta by 2014. It means as soon as a car driven from a garage, there will be no more room to move.
Other chaos situation was demonstrations and protests from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). He admitted there were 4,900 demonstrations in Jakarta when he was the governor for 10 years.
In the future, Sutiyoso wishes to be the president of Indonesia, that’s why before ending his duty as governor, he decided and declared to run for president in 2009 election. He convinced us that there were two major problems needed to be solved as soon as possible: first, the economical problem, and second, law enforcement. According to him, these two major problems have been creating chaos, unsafe, and uncertainty for everybody including investors and expatriates.
The first thing he is going to do if he is elected as a president is to reform government administration, and enforce the laws. He said the administration system is one of the culprits why the economy set back. It is the most difficult task to reform the administration system because by doing that, it means reducing power and authority, while power and authority are the access for government officials to corrupt.
Also, because of this type of administration, the provinces are not fully independent; they are still controlled by Jakarta. As the former chairman of APPSI (Association for Provincial Government of Indonesia), Sutiyoso knows that the controlling from Jakarta is not conducive for provinces to develop themselves. The governors know better their regions than those politicians in Jakarta.
In terms of reinforcing laws, his stressed that every violation must be followed by punishment. There was no impunity, and he was not hesitant to make unpopular decision. To him, there was no dualism in laws, such as what was happening in Aceh now with its Syariah Law. He was questioning why Islam Sharia granted in Aceh, how about “Christian Sharia” in other region? At last, he said separation movement would not be tolerated; there was no room for GAM (Free Aceh Movement) to move.
It seems he is the mirror of the past and current Indonesia situation, and he will be the part of Indonesia future if he gets elected. The issues that are questionable: Are the current Indonesia situation and the future problem solving he provided valid? If he becomes the president of Indonesia, will he fulfill his promises? Will he be able to lead to develop better Indonesia? Will you vote for and support him to be Indonesia President?
To answer those questions, I would like to provide a finding in Theory of Transformational and Transactional Leadership (1985, 1997) from Bernard M. Bass of State University of New York Bass. In his research, he suggests that transformational leaders possess the following characteristics: First, they have vision. They are inherently future-oriented. They involve helping a group move “from here to there.” These types of leaders also recognize the shortcomings of present order and offer an imaginative vision to overcome them.
Second, in addition to having vision, transformational leaders have superb rhetorical skills that heighten followers’ emotional levels and inspire them to embrace the vision. Many transformational leaders use speech techniques like repetition, rhythm, balance, and alliteration to strengthen the impact of their messages.
Third, they build trust in their leadership and attainability of their goals through an image of seemingly unshakable self-confidence, strength of moral conviction, personal example and self-sacrifice, and unconventional tactics or behaviors.
Fourth, they personalized leadership. Transformational leaders share strong personal bonds with followers, even when the leader occupies a formal organizational role. Personalized leadership from these leaders has three important components: 1. Transformational leaders are sensitive to the emotional states of follower. 2. They also tend to be emotionally expressive. 3. They empower followers by building their self-efficacy.
In addition to Bass’s finding, I need to point it out that a person cannot be detached from his root, his surrounding, his integrity, his values and his actions in the past and at the present because those will determine what he will do in the future. Thus, use your only vote wisely in 2009 presidential election.
*Dr. Beni Bevly holds BA in Political Science, MBA in Marketing, and DBA in Organizational Leadership. He is the founder of Overseas Think Tank for Indonesia.