Survey Finds 80% of People Still Find Pancasila Relevant

The Jakarta Globe

Most people still see Pancasila as relevant and believe there is a need to apply the values of the state ideology in their daily lives, a survey released on Tuesday shows.

For three decades under the iron-fisted rule of President Suharto, the teaching of the state ideology was obligatory at all schools, but once he stepped down in 1998, the compulsory nature was dropped.

But a recent survey by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) found that most people long for a return to the days when the ideology was taught in all schools, across the country, giving it equal footing with the state’s six recognized religions.

“About 80 percent see Pancasila as something that is still needed,” BPS chairman Rusman Heriawan said at the State Palace before reporting the results of the survey to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The survey, conducted from May 27-29, questioned 12,000 randomly selected people from various backgrounds throughout the country, asking for their opinion of and understanding of the state ideology.

“This [the result] might be in response to growing incidents of unrest,” Rusman said, referring to the mounting number of recent cases of religious-based violence around the country.

The survey also revealed that most respondents had hopes that Pancasila would be returned to school curricula.

“They feel a lack of implementation [of Pancasila] in their daily lives,” Rusman said.

Pancasila, which means five tenets, was used by Suharto’s New Order regime to keep religious extremism at bay, including by demanding that all political parties and mass organizations adhere to the ideology.

In a private discussion, “Tolerance in Spiritual Lives and a Pluralistic Country,” which was held in Jakarta on Tuesday, religious leaders called on the government to protect both the Constitution and Pancasila.

Speaking at the event, Andreas A. Yewangoe, chairman of the Indonesian Protestant Church Union (PGI), said the country needed to be brought back to Pancasila before other ideologies could destroy it.

“It needs to be understood that we, the religious leaders, are not contemptuous of all government policies or actions, but we just criticize what it has been doing, with the government slowly leaving Pancasila behind,” he said.

Yewangoe cited the Islamic Awards granted by the minister of religious affair to governors, district heads and mayors deemed to “explicitly include Islamic education in regional bylaws.”

“It is not a picture of Pancasila at all, which has values of tolerance and mutual respect, because those district heads and mayors are actually discriminating with the decrees they issue to govern their areas,” he said.

Yewangoe added that Pancasila was the ideal ideology to keep multifaceted Indonesia united.

“The government and all the Indonesian people need to seriously implement Pancasila in their daily lives, including when they make regulations or policy,” he said.

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic organization, said Pancasila was the best ideology to sustain the country.

“Indonesia is a Pancasila country, where we must be tolerant and respect each other,” he said.

He said that to get the values of Pancasila reflected in the nation’s daily life, those who supported the ideology should persuade everyone in the country to embrace its tenets.

Din said the government should also intervene whenever there was a problem of intolerance, and that there was also a need to build common ethical values across religions.

“It is very important that we share common ethical values among the followers of the various faiths,” he said.

Ursula McLackland, regional secretary general of the Universal Peace Federation-Asia, a network that advocates global peace, said the country’s Constitution, which guaranteed freedom of worship, was a good model but its implementation in daily life still needed to be more effective.

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