Professors discuss state of Indonesia

By Taylor Thanos

Professor Ryaas Rasyid, a member of the Indonesian Presidential Advisory Council and former minister of Regional Autonomy, and Professor Bahtiar Effendy, of the Islamic State University in Jakarta, Indonesia presented Indonesia Update 2010: Political Islam and Regional Autonomy of Indonesia Monday. Rasyid is also a graduate from NIU; he received his master’s degree in political science in 1988.

Since the transition into a democratic government directly elected by the people of Indonesia in 2004, “80 percent of the governmental process has been completed,” Rasyid said. “Democracy cannot be fought. We have no other choice but to adopt it. The local government in Indonesia has been amazing.”

The government, however, has confronted problems. Some of Indonesia’s wealthy have tried to become involved in government without any political knowledge or background.

“This has resulted in incompetence of leaders,” Rasyid said.

In Indonesia, among other requirements to become president, the candidate must have graduated from high school. Some of the leaders that have been elected, however, have used fake certificates.

“The quality of some local leaders are lacking education and experience,” Rasyid said.

Another problem the election process in Indonesia has faced, is the issue of religion.

“Religion in Indonesia is an important factor we have to deal with it,” Effendy said. “Any single government will never let go of their political power to manage religious inequality.”

Effendy went on to describe the struggle of the Islamic Parties role in the election.

“There are two major factors in why the Islamic Parties are not a major role in political campaigning,” Effendy said. “There is no strong Islamic leadership and a declining stature in ability to translate and express Islam. Unless the Islamic Party is able to fine strong leadership, I do not think the Islamic Political Party will ever be a dominant leader.”

Religion has also played a key factor in the relationship between Indonesia and the U.S., Effendy said.

“One of my theories as to why there is an amenity between Indonesia and the U.S. is because of the traditional amenity between Islam and Christianity,” Effendy said.

The people of Indonesia have begun to take steps towards a democratic government.

“Power is held by the people, they decide,” Rasyid said.