Jakarta (ANTARA) - Saiful Rahmat Dasuki is now officially serving as the new Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, succeeding his predecessor, Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi.

Dasuki was inducted as a new member of the cabinet by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), along with four other new deputy ministers and one new minister at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday (July 17).

The new deputy minister is a cadre of the Nahdlatul Ulama-affiliated organization Ansor Youth Movement (GP Ansor). He had served as head of GP Ansor Jakarta during the 2012-2016 and 2020-2022 periods.

His career further ascended to the next level on being appointed as Chairperson of the Regional Board of the United Development Party (PPP) Jakarta, replacing Guruh Tirta Lunggana, the son of the late politician, Lulung.

With Dasuki joining the cabinet, GP Ansor cadres currently occupy the two highest posts of the Religious Affairs Ministry since his superior at the ministry, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, is also an elite cadre of the religious youth movement.

Party's request

After the inauguration ceremony, President Jokowi stated that the step to substitute Sa'adi with Dasuki was taken in response to the request conveyed by their party, PPP.

"There was a request from the party," he stated.

Acting Chairman of PPP Muhammad Mardiono affirmed that such a substitution was a common practice and constitutes the president's prerogative. He also dismissed the issue saying that Sa'adi was replaced following his son's decision to join the Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo).

An interesting fact is that Sa'adi's son, Najmi Mumtaza Rabbani, had served as PPP's Jakarta Regional Secretary. Moreover, the former deputy minister was spotted attending his son's inauguration event as a cadre of Perindo.

His presence at the event sparked criticism from several PPP politicians, who deemed his act as unethical and some even urged him to resign from his position as Religious Affairs Deputy Minister.

However, Mardiono stressed that a reshuffle in the president's ranks of aides is not a new occurrence, adding that he had once experienced such a situation. He had earlier served as member of the Presidential Advisory Council for the 2019-2022 period.

Currently, he is assisting the president as the Presidential Special Envoy for Cooperation on Poverty Alleviation and Food Resilience.

He emphasized that as head of the government coalition party and president's special envoy, he has the responsibility to aid President Jokowi to harmonize each of the president's policies in his remaining tenure in office.

Sa'adi made a similar statement, saying that a switch in positions is natural. He also said that party cadres must be willing to carry out any tasks anywhere, even if it involves position replacements.

Seven priority programs

Deputy Minister Dasuki has affirmed his commitment to working in the direction stipulated by President Jokowi and Minister Qoumas, including by ensuring the success of the ministry's religious moderation policy.

In order to provide the finest support to Minister Qoumas, Dasuki should be able to oversee and accelerate the implementation of seven priority programs.

The programs are religious moderation strengthening, digital transformation, religious tolerance year, revitalization of the Religious Affairs Office (KUA), religious harmony index (KUB), pesantren (Islamic boarding school) self-reliance, and the Cyber Islamic University.

To strengthen religious moderation in Indonesia, all related parties are required to take collective efforts to moderate religious perspectives, outlooks, and practices by increasing the nation's understanding of religions and religious texts.

However, in the efforts to achieve the goal, Dasuki should tackle three challenges, including the tendency of some religious believers to set aside values of humanity in upholding their perspectives and practicing their religions.

The next challenge concerns the rise of subjective truth claims on religious interpretations, while the third challenge is related to the trend of strengthening of the religiosity spirit that ironically neglects national values and commitments.

The KUA revitalization program serves as the ministry's bid to make KUA a prime, credible, and moderate religious services center.

Through the program, the ministry aims to achieve four strategic goals, namely to enhance the quality of religious communities, solidify KUA's roles in fostering religious life, strengthen religious programs and services, and also build KUA's institutional capacity as a center for religious services.

With regard to the pesantren self-reliance program, the ministry is striving to make pesantrens more self-reliant, in terms of the economy, enabling them to fulfill their main functions as institutions of education, Islamic preaching, and community empowerment.

Furthermore, the Religious Affairs Ministry is implementing the digital transformation program to integrate various services into a single digital application by encouraging all working units at the ministry to ensure that they are capable of keeping up with rapid developments in communication and information technology.

Minister Qoumas has designated the year 2023 as the Year of Religious Harmony. This decision is meant to encourage the people to collectively strengthen inter-religious harmony and national unity for the sake of the country's integrity.

The minister has also developed the religious harmony index that is expected to serve as a tool to demonstrate Indonesia's high level of religious tolerance to the world while monitoring the development of religious harmony and concord in the country.

Meanwhile, Minister Qoumas also seeks to apply technology in all learning services and activities by devising the Cyber Islamic University, as he believes that technology constitutes an essential aspect towards realizing a better future

Indonesia needs technology that can guarantee the finest quality and indiscriminate access to education for all of its sons and daughters.

Deputy Minister Dasuki is now expected to carry out difficult tasks to proactively accelerate the achievement of the end goals of the seven programs.

The nation also expects him to offer fresh ideas and revivify the government's efforts to accomplish the programs' goals.

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Translator: Asep Firmansyah, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Sri Haryati
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