FN_NST_31Mar2014

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FN_NST_31Mar2014
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014
PACE 141 NEW STRAITS TIMES
Concern about
decliningfortunes
..
DESPERATE MEASURES:
Some Indonesian
parties have recruited
celebrities to
. run as candidates
IN
to the Indonesians
time,
polling stations
will be
to vote
heading
yet
again. Compared to earlier elecmore that
thanI have
a week's
tionslightly
campaigns
covered and researched, this year's election
campaign seems decidedly more muted
and civil.
Indonesia, it seems, is easing itself
into a norm of regular elections where
established norms are more respected
than contested. The parties that will be
contesting are twelve in number, along
with three local parties that will be running only in the special province of
Aceh.
partai Kebangkitan Bangsa, a Muslim party in Indonesia, has recruited
In terms of ideology and orientation,
musician Rhoma Irama to run as its candidate in elections next week. AFP
it has been noted by many observers,
pic
local and foreign, that there are few differences between the parties themonly well known but also organically
didates - the most notable being
selves. The one party that has a stand
rooted in Indonesian society - and by
that is somewhat different to the rest
Rhoma Irama, who is running for PKB.
having them as candidates, the religious
Along with the well-known dangdut
happens to be the Islamist party Partai
singer, there are celebrities of all kinds to parties are saying that they are down to
Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS).
earth after alL
But apart from the PKS, there are also satisfy all age groups: models, TV preAnother thing that the Islamic parties
senters, singers and an assortsome other parties that are
are doing is emphasising yet again Ined band of media personal~ligned to the mass Muslim
donesia's ethnically and religiously pluities, big and small, young
movements of the country,
and old (and some not really ral character. The PKBpolitical ad on TV
such as the Partai Kebangkthat famous) who have been
even goes as far as stating that "Indoneitan Bangsa (PKB)that is close
roped in by parties like PKB sia is not a fanatical country" and that
to the Nahdatul Ulama, and
Indonesians should remain moderate in
and PAN..
Partai Amanah Negara (PAN)
all things, including religion.
Have
the
Islamic
parties
of
that
is linked
to the
FarisJ,A. Noor
As the elections loom closer, it will be
Indonesia
come
to
the
·point
Muhamadiyah.
is senior fellow
where
the
Muslim
vote
is
to
be
interesting
to see how the religion-based
However, it seems that re- at the
.
parties like PKS,PAN and PKBfare at the
won by sing..ers and starlets
ligion-based parties have suf- S. Rajaratnam
polls. Some of these parties, like the
fered a decline since the last School of
rather than appeals to piety
and the hereafter?
PKS, have also been hard hit by their
elections. Indonesia illso hap- International
The answer is more com- own internal disputes and corruption
pens to have three Christian
Studies,
scandals, removing somewhat the lustre
plicated than that of course,
parties, the most well known Singapore
of purity that once made them seem
as Indonesia's personalitybeing Partai Damai Sejahtera
different.
based politics makes charis(PDS). But the PDS has failed
So, as Indonesians cast their vote next
ma arid public visibility a major. preto pass the 2.5 per cent voter threshold
mium in the selection of candidates.
week and determine their country's fate
mark, and will not even be in the runBut the Islamic parties are also keen to and future, will they also be passing
ning this time round.
emphasise that they are, like their na- judgement on the performance of the
On the whole, Indonesians seem to be
abandoning both Muslim and Ch"ristian tionalist counterparts, parties that are religious parties of the country; and will
not sectarian, communitarian or exclu- they choose to vote for the mainstream
parties, and opting for national parties
sive. The recruitment of celebrities is a national parties of Indonesia to signal
instead. So what is happening?
good way to tone down the rhetoric of their belief that Indonesia needs to
Well, on the ground it seems that
some of the religious parties have be- some religious leaders, and lends an air maintain its moderate, pluralist course?
As I've said before, these elections
of moderation, pragmatism and realism
come more desperate to win support, to
matter to Indonesia as well as the rest of
to their image.
the point where celebrities have been
recruited into their ranks to run as canDangdut singers, for instance, are not Asean, so watch this space.

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