Fri, 26 Sep 2003

Revolution, war needed to restore reform movement: Scholars

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

Scholars said here on Thursday that a breakthrough, possibly a revolution or even war, was needed to put the country's reform movement back on course.

Speaking at a three-day national seminar on reform organized by Gadjah Mada University, Rector of Jakarta-based Paramadina University Nurcholish Madjid said the complexity of the present multidimensional crises and difficulties in dealing with them required major steps and a high level of initiative.

"What is meant by major steps are fundamental steps that would be the moral equivalent of a revolution or even a war. This is the real jihad akbar, but it will not require bloodshed, just a sacrifice of egos and selfishness and subjectivism, a psychological kind of sacrifice," Nurcholish said, with a reference to a great holy war.

Such a jihad, according to Nurcholish, would be extremely difficult for many people here because it was basically a fight against one's own character, a fight that required courage to speak the truth no matter how bitter, especially when it was against an individual's self-interest or that of his/her group.

Nurcholish also reminded those present that reform was a moral movement in the beginning when people said enough is enough with the authoritarianism of the New Order. However, as time has gone by, the hope for change and a better future has faded. The current state of the nation, he continued, was merely the "New Order minus Soeharto", along with all of its corruption, violence and injustice.

Chairman of Muhammadiyah Ahmad Syafii Maarif also expressed similar views, saying that a chaotic moral system required a counter morality, which could embolden people to speak out and offer sensible solutions to national problems.

"It may be necessary for us to offer a solution for a complete redesign of the nation. Ad hoc solutions will not overcome basic problems, and the root issues that cause them," said Syafii.

He added that it was now the time for educational institutions, especially universities, to be much more proactive in safeguarding the nation and preventing the 2004 general election from becoming an arena for the nurture of violent militias connected to parties and widespread vote-buying.

"In a time when other institutions, including the legislative, executive and judiciary are all deteriorating, universities are the only hope we have. What we need now is to unite all people of conscience with healthy minds to save the future of this country," he said.

Some 300 participants are attending the three-day seminar that was opened by Minister of National Education Malik Fadjar. The seminar itself was organized to help reformulate the true goal of the reform movement and put it back on course.

A number of prominent scholars, economists and other experts of different backgrounds have been invited to present their ideas. Some of the noted speakers include Mubyarto, Bambang Sudibyo, Revrisond Baswir, Frans-Magnis Suseno, Mudji Sutrisno, Toeti Heraty Rooseno, Chusnul Mariyah, Riswandha Imawan and Aristides Katopo.

"We hope to produce a guideline for future Indonesian leaders regarding what must be done to keep reform on track. We will make it into a book, copies of which will be distributed to the public and concerned institutions," Chairman of the seminar's organizing committee Djoko Suryo said.