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Don't turn the clock

Tempo - June 25, 2020

Jakarta – As well as not being urgent, the Pancasila Ideology Guidelines Bill could give rise to a single interpretation of Pancasila. The deliberations of this bill should be ended.

If it is deliberated and then passed by the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government, the Pancasila Ideology Guidelines (HIP) Law will turn back the clock to our dark past. During the New Order regime, Pancasila was a sacred ideology that could not be questioned.

The Suharto government used Pancasila against political opponents. All institutions were obliged to adopt it as their sole basis. Through the Agency for the Propagation of Pancasila (BP7), a single interpretation of Pancasila was used to indoctrinate every citizen.

Articles 13 to 17 of the HIP Bill, for example, contain a definition and explanation of Pancasila democracy that could give rise to a single interpretation. The bill was also designed to strengthen the position of the Pancasila Ideology Education Agency (BPIP). However, giving excessive authority to the BPIP will be dangerous because it could lead to the revival of the BP7. The BPIP will have an opportunity to become a public sensor of ideology.

The BPIP was established based on Presidential Decision No. 7/2018. Article 44 of the Pancasila Ideology Guidelines Bill gives the president overall authority for HIP education, with the implementation in the hands of the BPIP. The legal basis for the BPIP will also be stronger, as it will be based on a law, not just a presidential decision.

Article 45 of the HIP Bill also significantly expands the role of the BPIP. The body will be able to direct, develop and coordinate the implementation of Pancasila in state institutions, ministries and non-ministerial bodies, non-structural bodies and regional governments. According to the Constitution, state institutions include the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

It was the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) that insisted on including this bill in the 2020 National Legislative Program and approving as a DPR initiative in a plenary meeting on May 12. When it was discussed at the DPR plenary session, only the Democratic Party faction opposed deliberating it.

The PDI-P gives the impression of wanting to return Pancasila to the form it had at the time of Indonesia's first president Sukarno. This is apparent from Article 7 paragraphs 2 and 3. Paragraph 2 squeezes the five state principles of Pancasila into three: social-nationalism, social-democracy and belief in God. Paragraph 3 then compresses these three principles into one: gotong royong, or mutual cooperation.

This article reminds people of the speech that Sukarno gave at the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (BPUPK) on June 1, 1945. Sukarno stated that Pancasila could be compressed into Trisila, three principles, and then Ekasila, one principle.

This compressing of the Pancasila ideology has only given rise to suspicions from Islamic groups that Indonesia will abandon the principle of Belief in One Almighty God. Turning the BPIP into a new version of the BP7 will change Pancasila into a closed ideology prone to misuse as a way of attacking political opponents.

All efforts to retain Pancasila as the basis of the state should be supported. Pancasila represents an initiative from the people to overcome differences. The DPR, government and the public need to understand that Pancasila was born from tough historical endeavors that did not shun creative interpretations.

The president has postponed the deliberations of the bill, but this is not enough. Given the disadvantages, it is time the DPR and the government halted deliberations completely.

Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/read/36801/dont-turn-the-clock

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1357769/dont-turn-the-clock