Political elite using fasting month to polish public image

Kompas – August 5, 2011
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono breaks fast at TNI headquarters - August 9, 2011 (PD)
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono breaks fast at TNI headquarters - August 9, 2011 (PD)

Jakarta – The political elite in this country should use the holy fasting month of Ramadan as a moment for introspection and evaluation, to ask whether their policies side with the ordinary people or not. Instead of fulfilling this hope however, the reality is that central and regional government officials are using religious rituals and symbols to polish their image in the public eye.

This was conveyed separately by Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) rector Komaruddin Hidyat, Indonesian Civic Circle (LMI) executive director Ray Rangkuti and Yogyakarta Sunan Kalijaga UIN lecturer Abdul Munir Mulkhan in Jakarta on Wednesday August 3. According to all three, religious rituals such as the current fasting month do not have much influence on improvements to the rotten behaviour of the political elite. Although the fasting month is greeted by and celebrated by all kinds of grand rituals, the practice of corruption, political transactions and misuse of power continues.

Hidyat believes that there is no direct relationship between grand religious rituals and improvements in political behaviour. The practice of corruption, for example does not automatically diminish during the fasting month. And this corruption is committed by the very political elite who appear to be diligently fasting and understand that the essence of [religious] teachings is restraining oneself from committing injustice, including steeling the people’s money for personal gain.

“Religion clearly prohibits corruption, but is a moral message, while corruption is born out of a damaged system. The solution is through firm law enforcement and promoting clean and responsible governance”, he said.

Mulkhan hopes that the political elite will choose to use the fasting month as moment for self-introspection, to reflect upon whether or not the power held by the elite is being used in accordance with the mandate of the constitution, namely to building the people welfare, state sovereignty and for the enlightenment of the nation.

Rangkuti however is not convinced that the lust for the misuse of power by the elite can be appeased. “The elite who like lying will perhaps continue to lie. The corruptors cover up their rottenness. This indicates the low level of morality in this country”, he said. (IAM)

Source: Politisi: Agama Dipolitisasi untuk Pencitraan Elite Politik – Kompas. Jumat, 05 Agustus 2011

 [Translated by James Balowski.]