See More on Facebook

Curiosity, Politics

Indonesian political parties clash over sharia-based bylaws

Sharia law is once again in the headlines as parties debate its merits and the need for secularism.


Written by

Updated: November 19, 2018

Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairman Grace Natalie’s declaration that her party was against religion-based regulations has reignited the controversy surrounding the proliferation of sharia-inspired bylaws in regions across the country.

“The PSI will prevent the emergence of injustice, discrimination and all intolerant acts in this country. The PSI will never support gospel-based bylaws or sharia-based bylaws,” Grace said last week at a celebration of the PSI’s fourth anniversary.

Her remarks came as some local politicians in several regions promised to enact “morality” bylaws in what analysts say is an attempt to win votes in the 2019 legislative election, particularly from Muslim constituents.

The statements drew criticism from an Islamist group that has accused Grace of blasphemy and from the older parties within both the ruling coalition and the opposition, which were quick to defend sharia-based bylaws.

“It is fardhu kifayah [a collective obligation] for there to be a political party that is focused on implementing sharia principles in Indonesian laws and regulations,” United Development Party (PPP) chairman Romahurmuziy wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. “That is why we in the PPP will continue to safeguard sharia bylaws because, for us, adopting sharia principles is a reflection of Pancasila as seen in the spirit of Belief in the One and Only God.”

Gerindra Party executive Sodik Mudjahid echoed Romy’s statement that sharia-based laws were in accordance with the values of state ideology Pancasila.

“The values of Islamic sharia and those of other religions in Indonesia are the soul and pillars of Pancasila’s five principles,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

“People who say sharia should be fought because it contradicts Pancasila do not understand the history, essence, philosophy and substance of Pancasila.”

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) executive Suhud Aliyudin also reiterated his party’s support for sharia-based laws and regulations, adding that regulations that were considered intolerant could be challenged in court. “If someone does not agree [with a sharia bylaw] or believes it causes intolerance, then they have to prove it in court through a judicial review.”

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker and Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin campaign team member Eva Kusuma Sundari, on the other hand, said the PDI-P was against “exclusive” religion-based bylaws that could often lead to discrimination.

“We support sharia bylaws that are universal, such as those that fight against poverty and ignorance. We also support specific but optional bylaws such as those on sharia banking,” she said. “But we do not agree with exclusive bylaws that are discriminatory, for example, bylaws that restrict women from being out of the house at night and bylaws that create religion-based segregation.”

Golkar Party lawmaker Firman Soebagyo said that the matter was a sensitive one, but that in principle, “regional bylaws should not contradict existing laws and the constitutions”.

“Bylaws should safeguard our national unity and diversity.”

Sharia bylaws are widely popular among Indonesian Muslims, with 90.9 percent of 1,620 respondents in a 2017 Institute of South East Asian Studies survey saying that there were benefits to implementing sharia law.

Research conducted by University of London political analyst Michael Buehler found that 443 sharia-based regulations had been issued at the provincial, regency and municipal levels between 1998 and 2013. The regulations were enacted by regional heads and legislative councils from both secular and Islamic parties.

In his 2016 book, The Politics of Shari’a Law, Buehler argues that politicians’ support for sharia-based bylaws and regulations was more the result of political considerations than ideological or religious ones. “State elites in Indonesia are opportunist Islamizers whose affection for Islamic law is less emotional than transactional,” he wrote.

A 2015 survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) also found that political interests were primarily responsible for the implementation of sharia bylaws, with most of the bylaws that the study reviewed in Jakarta, Banten and West Java, being passed during local election campaign periods.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Jakarta Post
About the Author: The Jakarta Post is one of Indonesia's leading English-language daily newspapers.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity, Politics

Philippines government says no cheating in mid-term elections

Duterte’s government says left’s defeat was due to its own shortcomings. The loss of senatorial candidates and party-list groups backed by the Left should be a “wake-up call to re-asses their actions,” Malacañang said Wednesday. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued this statement as he dismissed the claim of Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes that the midterm elections were not that credible due to cheating. “We expect the likes of Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes to cry “cheating” and question the ‘Duterte magic’ following the crushing defeat of many left-leaning party-list groups and their candidate for senator, Mr. Neri Colmenares, in this year’s elections,” Panelo said. In a statement, Reyes said the “Duterte magic” was the “use of government resources to favor administration bets, use of the AFP and PNP to target and harass opposition gr


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 16, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Junta loyalists pack Senate in Thailand

The senate will have a key role to play in choosing the next prime minister. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took a major step towards retaining power by naming scores of people it patronises and who are loyal to it as constitutionally endorsed senators. Of the 250 names announced yesterday for the junta-picked Senate, 104 were military or police officers –retired and in service – while other figures included former members of junta-appointed bodies who had served the post-coup regime in the past five years. The move marks an about-turn for the junta, which had pledged to stay away from politics and had come to power promising to cleanse the country of corruption and nepotism. In addition to people from the Armed Forces, the senator list also included family members of junta leaders as well as close aides. The list includes General Pree


By The Nation (Thailand)
May 15, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Duterte drug war ’won’ in 2019 senatorial race

The mid-term votes seem to back Duterte’s government and his policies. President Rodrigo Duterte and his drug war “just won” as administration-backed senatorial candidates are poised to claim victory in the 2019 polls, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday. Locsin said Monday’s vote is seen as a gauge of public support for Duterte’s war on drugs. “The elections were a referendum on Duterte and his war on drugs. He & the war just won,” he said in a Twitter post. He added: “The Senatorial elections were not a referendum in favor of Charter change either, the death penalty, and jailing minors.” He said the public should already “shut up” on the matter as the drug war “goes on.” “So shut the f*** up on that subject everybody. The war goes on,” the foreign secretary said. In the latest update of partial and unofficial tally of vo


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 15, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Philippines sets mid-term election date

The government warns people, groups with ‘sinister plans’ on Election Day. Malacañang on Friday cautioned “those who have sinister plans and evil machinations” in the May 13 midterm elections to stop their scheme or they would be prosecuted. President Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the “stern warning” as he urged “candidates across the political spectrum” to ask their supporters to observe an honest and peaceful elections. He cited that “concerns and apprehensions have been raised by various quarters relative to the conduct of the coming elections” but assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte “has put in place measures designed to determine if cheating has been committed in the polls.”“We are thus issuing a stern warning to those who have sin


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 13, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Pakistan reaches agreement with IMF

The country will receive $6 billion over 3 years. The technical teams of the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached an agreement on a bailout package for Pakistan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh announced on Sunday. “After months of discussions and negotiations, a staff-level agreement has been reached between Pakistan and the IMF,” he said while speaking on state-run PTV News. Dr Shaikh revealed that Pakistan would receive $6 billion worth of assistance under the IMF programme over a period of three years. He said the staff-level agreement, which must still be approved by the IMF board of directors in Washington, would show that


By Dawn
May 13, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

India’s political parties and their foreign policy platform

Where do India’s major political parties stand on foreign policy issues in Elections 2019. Foreign policy debates have historically been foreign to Indian election campaigns. But photo-ops with international leaders are always welcome because they help burnish the credentials of politicians with the domestic audience. Images of India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru rubbing shoulders with Presidents Sukarno and Nasser of Indonesia and Egypt, respectively, at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference in 1955 certainly did his image as a world statesman no harm. The television broadcast of his daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, being enveloped in a surprise bear hug by ‘elder brother’ Fidel Castro at the 1983 Non-Aligned Movement Conference in New Delhi, was widely thought to have humanised the otherwise aloof Mrs G for millions in India. In more recent times, Rajiv Gandhi’s


By Ishan Joshi
May 13, 2019