Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ruling with an Iron Fist

This is a comment on the Opinion Are Indonesians truly tolerant? by M. Tholchah on Dec. 9. ( asp?fileid=20050920.F03&irec=2)

In spite of the impressive critical views presented by the writer in this article, he somehow missed the fact that the "tolerant society" created in Indonesia during the 32 years of Soeharto rule as he has pointed out, was, in my view, not because of the successful indoctrination of Pancasila as the writer has claimed. It was because of the iron-fist rule of the Soeharto regime that the sparks in the Indonesian society that erupted in the post Soeharto Indonesia were suppressed for more than three decades.

The regime's iron-fist approach created a calm surface with boiling lava below that was ready to erupt at anytime. The riots and violence in the post-Soeharto Indonesia prove my hypothesis.

With the absence of the strict control of the government over its populace as we witnessed during the Soeharto period there are now these sparks throughout Indonesia.

At the same time, claiming that the grim reality in Indonesia (the rampant corruption, violence, crime and other criminal acts), in the most populous Muslim country in the world, gave Islam a double face, is, in my view, a mistake. It is the individual, and not the religion, that needs to be blamed. It is not the Islamic teachings that produce these conditions but it is the understanding of the individuals about Islam that needs to be reviewed. I am pretty convinced considering the background of the writer that my opinion is wholly acceptable.

Published in The Jakarta Post Online Letter on 9 Dec 2005

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