Sat, 04 Aug 2001

Secular or Muslim nation?

Are we to remain a secular nation or are we to become the world's largest Muslim nation?

Megawati Soekarnoputri is a President with the potential to lead this nation to peace and strength. As with the presidents who went before her, she believes in a secular state and will lead us in that direction.

But will Amien Rais and Hamzah Haz allow this? What will happen to us if President Megawati does not serve her term? Constitutionally speaking, it will be the Vice President who should then become president.

Hamzah Haz has been very outspoken in his desire to see Indonesia become an Islamic state. He has shown that he is willing to compromise his beliefs for the sake of politics, in that he has become Vice President to a woman president, who he claimed could not become president as it would be forbidden under Islamic law.

If he is willing to compromise his beliefs, then how far will he really go to see Indonesia become an Islamic nation?

As an Islamic nation, Indonesia will gain less and will suffer more. Our boast is that we are a nation of many diverse ethnic groups and religions. It is our secular stance that has made us attractive to other nations and investors so as to put their money in here.

Today we should be focusing on economics and how to mend fences between the different provinces and islands. We must simultaneously move forward on many fronts.

We, as a united nation, much repeat our past economic achievements. We must not suffer the same fate as Northern Ireland and end up with 300 years of religious conflict.

Our people, though mostly Muslim, have chosen through a democratic process to remain a secular country. We voted for representatives that can espouse their beliefs in a country that continues to be ruled by a civil government. As we are now a democratic nation, the politicians should listen more to the will of the people they represent. Who will protect the people if Megawati is thrown aside and the Vice President takes control? It is a frightening thought.