Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Muhammadiyah goes back to basics

YOGYAKARTA (JP): The demise of the New Order authoritarian regime has inspired Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Islamic organization, to replace Pancasila state ideology with Islam in its statute.

Muhammadiyah secretary-general Muchlas Abror told a news conference here on Thursday the crucial change would be proposed during the organization's 45th congress in Jakarta from July 8 to July 11.

A special team led by a Muhammadiyah executive, Ramli Toha, is working on the proposal, said Muchlas.

"Changing the existing statute is part of the organization's anticipation of the 21st century," Muchlas said.

The amendment will be one of three major issues to be addressed at the congress, the first to be held since president Soeharto's New Order regime fell in May 1998.

As a consequence of the now defunct 1985 law on mass organizations, Muhammadiyah acknowledged Pancasila as its platform in place of Islam, the organization's founding platform.

Muhammadiyah, a modernist-oriented organization, was founded in 1912 here by Muslim cleric and independence struggler Achmad Dahlan.

Muchlas said that the number of terms a chairman could serve and the formulation of an Islamic way of life as guidance for the 28 million Muhammadiyah members and supporters would be the other key topics addressed at the congress.

A Muhammadiyah executive, Haedar Nashir, who also spoke at the news conference, said the organization's central board of executives would limit a chairman's term to only two.

The congress will also elect a new chairman to replace interim chief Syafiie Ma'arif, who took over from Amien Rais in August 1998.

Amien was elected chairman in the last congress five years ago in Banda Aceh, but relinquished the post after he founded the National Mandate Party. He is currently speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly. (swa)