Fri, 11 Jun 2004

Democracy demolished

I do believe that the 1945 Constitution covers the right of every individual in this country to vote the way he or she desires, and that would be in line with democratic principles.

However, in reality, which is all that matters, instructions and edicts and goodness knows what else are floating around that force people to vote one way -- or else.

Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah are busy taking away people's individual rights, whilst in Aceh province the quest to destroy the freedom of women continues. Muslims are now prohibited under Islamic law, or sharia, from choosing a woman leader except in an emergency. Surely this is an emergency, as clearly freedom and democracy are being strangled and demolished by religion.

Is sharia law more legally powerful that the 1945 Indonesian Constitution, and if so, who says it is? If such edicts and rulings go against the Constitution, then is this any better or worse than people who support separatism, as both defy the accepted law of the land. Even the Palembang Muhammadiyah University has instructed its 528 employees to vote one way or face sanctions.

That is clearly blackmail, and yet those who defy this instruction will be labeled traitors -- traitors to what? What about their constitutional and individual right to vote for who they want to? Surely the traitor is the man issuing the instruction, as he has no right whatsoever to interfere. If Indonesia continues to allow such practices to flourish, then this country will become a police state terrorized by powerful people who will eventually take away every single freedom that exists.

DAVID WALLIS, Medan, North Sumatra