Religious leaders to maintain communication with government

"The government should stop all forms of lies. The laws are no longer observed in developing the nation and state," Ahmad Syafii Maarif said.
Jakarta  (ANTARA News) - Interfaith leaders grouped in the "movement against lies" have stated they intend to keep a communication line with the government.

"The core issue now is to maintain communication with the government to avoid misunderstandings," chief of the Indonesian Communion of Churches Andreas Yewangoe said here on Monday.

Andreas said there was a discourse among his colleagues in the movement to invite President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a meeting but it would be further discussed during a gathering with members of the movement in early February 2011.

Andreas reiterated the movement was not meant to topple the president but to remind the government of several fundamental problems which need to be solved.

Citing an example, he referred to the government`s recent claim that Indonesia was making economic progress. He said that if there was economic progress, it was not yet felt by the people.

"The fact that some people committed suicide and eat `tiwul`(processed cassava mixed with palm sugar) should not be taken lightly. It is an injustice and against the constitution," he said expressing hope that the government would respond to the religious leaders` statement made last week.

During a gathering last January 14, several religious leaders said that the government had been telling lies to the public about conditions in several fields, including the economy, respect for human rights, the Lapindo mudflow case, religious freedom, protection of migrant workers and the fight against corruption.

The religious leaders attending the gathering included Buddhist Monk Pannyavaro Mahathera, Andreas Yewangoe (the chief of the Indonesian Communion of Churches), Muhammadiyah Chairman Din Syamsuddin, Catholic priest Franz Magnis Suseno and founder of Maarif Institute, Ahmad Syafii Maarif.

"The government should stop all forms of lies. The laws are no longer observed in developing the nation and state," Ahmad Syafii Maarif said.

According to the interfaith leader group`s spokesman, Shalahuddin Wahid, the government should immediately end its deviations from the 1945 Constitution by creating justice and national prosperity.

"Today so much violence is being committed in the name of religion, freedom of speech and press freedom are still being ignored by the government and human rights violations with impunity are still happening," Shalahuddin Wahid said.

He said the government`s policies had indeed led to economic growth of up to 5.8 percent but in reality many pockets of poverty still existed in different regions in the country.

In the amended 1945 Constitution it is stated that Indonesia is a law-based country but the fact is it is not. He said the government had also not paid attention to victims of serious human rights violations and had failed to protect migrant workers treated badly in various other countries.

"The government has not been able to protect Indonesian citizens," he said.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of Reform Institute Yudi Latif said said that the criticism that reflected the interfaith declining trust toward the government and could affect its image is an expression of concern over the people`s poor prosperity. It is a call for the government to introspect.

"It reflects that a crisis of people`s confidence toward the government is taking place. The government should soon find a solution," Yudi said.

He said the crisis of confidence happened because the people viewed that the image-building politics the government was implementing was against realities. Yudi was reacting to a statement made by religious leaders last week who declared 2011 as the year of fighting against lies.

Slamet Effendi Yusuf, Chairman of the Interfaith Affairs of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI)also stated his support to the interfaith leaders` action adding that the government needs to introspect.

"I see the interfaith leaders`s statements as a call on the government to introspect. There is no hidden agenda in it," Slamet said.