When Abdurrahman Wahid (better known as Gus Dur) won the Indonesian
presidency, Malaysia’s fundamentalist Islamist party was among the
first to congratulate their fellow Muslim brother, claiming
that Gus Dur is a true ulama’ (Islamic religious cleric) who would
ensure Indonesia would become an Islamic state.
PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat was quoted as saying that he
thanked God for allowing Gus Dur to win as it would destroy the
Jewish campaign against worldwide Muslim movement.
"It seems they will never be successful. Gus Dur’s background to fight
for Islam will surely prove that the Jewish campaign before this to be
a failure," he was quoted by Harakah (PAS official newspaper) recently.
Nik Aziz also said there was no reason why the same could not happen in
Malaysia as many Malaysians who were believers of secularism had joined
Well, bad news for Nik Aziz and other misguided PAS leaders and members.
Claiming Gus Dur to be an Islamist is the biggest mistake anybody can
As Gus Dur visits Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on November 6, many
more Malaysians would realise that the new Indonesian president is no
Fortunately for Nik Aziz, his close friend and ally Parliamentary Opposition
Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang gives a
better explanation about Gus Dur and his political beliefs.
In welcoming Gus Dur’s visit to Malaysia, Lim said the Indonesian president
has strong reformist credentials.
In his press statement, Lim described Gus Dur as such: "He has a track record
of racial and religious tolerance, committed to a secular and inclusive
Indonesia, which will serve him well as the cornerstone of his efforts to
kick-start Indonesia's decimated economy, begin the process of national
reconciliation and implement the various policies he had advocated, as
granting greater economic autonomy to Indonesia's provinces, weeding out
corruption and setting up an independent judicial system."
"Many consider him to be the nation's moral conscience. He leads the
country's largest Moslem organisation, the 35 million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama
(NU), but is thoroughly secular in outlook, always preaching respect for
other religions and urging protection for Indonesia's economically important
Wahid (Gus Dur) believes that "Islam should be used only as a moral force
to foster democracy, not as an overtly political tool". He has always
insisted that faith is a personal matter and been against institutionalizing
Islam within the state, and has worked to promote cooperation among
Malaysians of all faiths and races would surely vote for PAS if the
fundamentalist party drops its religious stance and its leaders are
like Gus Dur.
For now, PAS leaders and members can continue to dream about Gus Dur,
because the half-blind intellectual is no Islamist, moderate or otherwise.
Maybe UMNO leaders and members should learn more about Gus Dur and his
belief for a united, democratic and secular Indonesia.
Gus Dur's Quotable Quotes
I quarrel with Amien Rais who would like to establish an Islamic society.
For me an Islamic society in Indonesia is treason against the constitution
because it will make non-Muslims second class-citizens. But an ‘Indonesian
society’ where the Muslims are strong - and strong means functioning well -
then I think that is good.
Deep in my heart I know that it is impossible for Indonesia to be governed
by one side. My dream, my belief for a modern Indonesia is open politics -
where political behaviour is ordinary and where it is not based exclusively
on religion and race.
A nation which attempts to establish an Islamic state causes social unrest
and threatens economic development.