Reactualization of Pancasila as the State Ideology

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illustration: Agung Wahyudi/IO

As the government postpones deliberation of HIP bill on Pancasila to focus on handling the pandemic, protest from the public raise questioning on the urgency and controversial articles proposed by the House. 

IO – If we analogize Pancasila by comparing it to light, it is a brilliant one. The light illuminates the Motherland. From Sabang to Merauke. And from Miangas to Rote Island. Pancasila is also like the moon, which radiates its illumination through the darkness of the night, a soothing beauty to the eyes of the beholders. Pancasila is also like the sun, never tired of shining the path ahead for children of the Nation. Its ray is not only healthy, but also longed for. Pancasila is also like a candle, one whose flame guides life down the dark tunnel of uncertainty. Let Pancasila be the light. A beacon of our life as a nation. Do not dim the light, let alone extinguish it. 

Lately, Pancasila is being confronted by dilemmas. There are certain parties or groups who want to distort and degrade its status as the Nation’s final ideology. Pancasila is the ultimate source of all sources of laws. Therefore, its position is deeply enshrined in the Preamble to the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, rather than in Laws or other regulations. Pancasila can be only found in the State Constitution, guarded and guided by it. Let us not trivialize it and place it in other regulations. 

The Pancasila Ideology Guidelines (HIP) bill draft is now mired in controversy. Many fear it will distort the significance of Pancasila. Thus, it is only natural if all components of the Nation reject ratification of the draft bill. MUI, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah, and other mass organizations are all on the move to campaign against the deliberation of the draft bill in the House of Representatives, demanding that it be halted. Initially, the House and the government were in agreement to have the HIP bill draft deliberated. Indeed, seven out of nine factions in the House have greenlighted its deliberation to be put in an agenda. 

Since it was forcefully rejected by many elements of society, in a move that quickly crystallized into people’s power, the President eventually asked the House to postpone deliberation of the bill. Ulemas and the people demand that the bill not simply be postponed, but altogether canceled and revoked. This is not only for the sake of the Nation and the state, but also an effort to save Pancasila from the “sinister” hands of arrogant state power. Pancasila must be saved from opportunistic intruders who want to undermine it. And it must be saved from threats, both from inside and outside. And from the Nation’s traitors. 

The public suspicion is genuine. And it is not entirely baseless. The suspicion of the Islamic community is also reasonable due to many problems in the contents of the HIP bill, one being the attempt to put Pancasila at loggerheads with religion, where in principle the two cannot be confronted or separated, as Pancasila was derived from religious values. The values of Islam that are universal and “a blessing for the whole world”. Pancasila must not be forcefully separated from religion, or else one would have to face the Islamic community. And the entire Indonesian people. 

There are a number of controversies with the HIP bill, the deliberation of which is currently being suspended. First, the sponsors and supporters of the bill reasoned that they wanted to strengthen the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP), a body established under the Presidential Regulation No. 7 of 2018, who thinks it has the right to guard and advance the values of Pancasila. They want to raise its status to the same level of Laws. But as a matter of fact, the contents of the HIP bill touch on other things that have nothing to do with BPIP. Many are even suspicious that the bill’s hidden motivation is to revive the ideology of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The exclusion of the Temporary People’s Consultative Assembly Decree (TAP MPRS) Number XXV of 1966 concerning the prohibition of PKI in the preamble has further fueled the suspicion. People are rightly wondering, “Does it want to strengthen BPIP or create an opening for the birth of a new style of communism?” 

Strange but True. The TAP MPRS Number XXV of 1966 which is essentially a stronghold and defense in protecting and guarding Pancasila from being undermined by communism was not included as a factor for consideration in the HIP bill. How careless! But it could have also been a deliberate tactic meant to weaken Pancasila. This action is nonsensical and absurd. It has the potential to sow discord among the people, pitting one community against another, something which will eventually hurt our national unity. To bolster the BPIP by corrupting the content of the articles in the HIP bill is tantamount to betrayal of the Nation and the state. 

BPIP itself is indeed unnecessary. Why should it be strengthened? It has failed to prove its usefulness. It’s a wasteful endeavor where state coffers are drained to pay officials whose salaries are ridiculously high. How could an organization that has no benefit for the people, the Nation and the state need to be strengthened? Its existence has brought no benefit at all for the people, other than its officials. It deserves to be dissolved, instead of strengthened. If the goal is to strengthen BPIP, why not just create a BPIP bill, instead of HIP bill which would undermine Pancasila. And the contents of the bill must not threaten the special status of Pancasila as the Nation’s final ideology. 

Second, the concept of three principles (trisila) and one principle (ekasila). Pancasila was not formulated by individuals but the common consensus of the Nation’s leaders. Imposing the formulation of trisila and ekasila in the HIP bill is a form of annexation of Pancasila and betrayal of the Nation and the state. The clause that is under spotlight concerns the concepts of trisila and ekasila, as well as the phrase “Ketuhanan yang Berkebudayaan” (Theism with Culture). The concept is stipulated in Article 7 of the HIP bill. The three principles are socio-nationalism, socio-democracy, and theism with culture. Trisila is then crystallized into ekasila, namely the spirit of mutual cooperation. The concept of trisila and ekasila distorts Pancasila as if it belongs to a certain group. Pancasila is Pancasila, made up of five principles. No less, no more. It must not be altered and tampered with. 

Third, BPIP will be staffed with active-duty armed forces personnel and policemen. The bill draft clearly stipulated and contains provisions that they can actively take up roles as members of the BPIP Steering Committee. In Article 47 paragraph 2 of the HIP bill, the BPIP Steering Committee has a maximum of eleven people or another odd number. They earn salary in the region of hundreds of millions of Rupiah. Just sit nicely, enjoy a fantastic salary, and luxurious amenities. It will be privillage for active-duty armed forces personnel and policemen. Thus, it begs a question, how is this regime different than the New Order? The people who fought for reform dreamed for an improvement in the management of the Nation and the state but the fact today is the country is further damaged. It’s increasingly directionless, because the armed forces personnel and policemen are eyeing civilian positions. 

Fourth, Pancasila must not be distorted. Pancasila, as the foundation of the Nation and ideology of the state, must be placed in the highest and noblest place. It must not be weakened, or its significance reduced. Do not trivialize its values. Do not tamper with its status. Do not let it be used as a tool by the rulers to justify their power. Do not tarnish its sanctity. Do not undermine its power. Do not interpret it arbitrarily with a single interpretation. Do not try to discredit it using any pretense. Do not pretend to embrace it while at the same time violating its norms and values. And do not be hypocritical in its implementation. Pretending to be a follower of Pancasila while one’s heart, mind, and behavior are completely anti-Pancasila. 

Pancasila is not just to be memorized by rote. One needs to also adopts its values. Its principles ought to be internalized. And its norms need to be implemented. It needs to be manifested in our daily life, not just in words but also in actions. It needs to be grounded, not sent aloft. It has to become a “foothold” for the people, so it can serve as a way of life for the Nation and the state. But presently Pancasila is treated as jargon. It’s a commodity sold by and used as a tool by the rulers. It’s yet to be implemented in people’s daily lives. It’s still an artifact in the showcase of power. And there are still many parties that do not understand Pancasila as the Nation’s way of life. 

Fifth, there is no urgency in deliberating and ratifying the HIP bill draft. Its controversial contents aside, we are also facing a COVID-19 pandemic that only God knows when it will end. Helping people affected by coronavirus and prevent its spread should become the priority of the House and the current government, instead of looking for an opening to pass the HIP bill. The strength and resource of this nation should be focused on containing the transmission of the virus and its devastating impact on public health and the economy. Do not exploit people’s anxiety and suffering during the pandemic, with many facing financial ruin and even hunger, to formulate and pass the HIP bill that offends the public and weakens Pancasila. 

People’s lives are already difficult. Many are hungry and unemployed because of widespread retrenchment. People infected with the virus don’t need the HIP bill. They need food and a job. They need to earn a living to survive. They need help from the government and the elites. They need the state to be present. Their spirit needs to be uplifted so they don’t feel like they are living in hell. They need the elites to be a role model. They need a decent, safe and comfortable life. They need welfare, not a social gap. The need love and compassion from others. They need justice. They need equitable growth. And they also need self-confidence and optimism in going through an increasingly difficult life. 

Pancasila is non-negotiable 

Pancasila is final. Do not distort it. Do not undermine it. And do not claim it for personal or group interests. Pancasila belongs to the Nation. It belongs to all Indonesian people. It is the “house” where children of the Nation are cultivating hopes and sowing ambitions. It’s a large house where people pledge their loyalty. A sturdy house where people take up shelter. And a beautiful home where all components of the Nation unite their spirit. Pancasila in non-negotiable. No individual, group, or organization should be allowed to dismantle or replace it. Pancasila belongs to all. And it must be guarded together regardless of the risks and costs involved. 

Guarding Pancasila is an act of “jihad” (holy war). Jihad in maintaining the unity and integrity of the Nation. Jihad in fighting anti-Pancasila ideology. Jihad in fighting for the religious value of “martyrdom” in protecting and guarding Pancasila. We even must be prepared to sacrifice our lives to protect Pancasila. If we agree that Pancasila is non-negotiable, our thoughts, actions, and mental state must reflect the values of Pancasila. If we agree that Pancasila is the everlasting state ideology, never ever betray Pancasila. Pancasila is not to be denied. Pancasila is not to be castrated. Pancasila is not to be cursed at. Pancasila is to be protected, loved, and its values manifested. 

Pancasila does not belong to a certain party. It does not belong to any particular group. Nor does it belong to certain clans/families, let alone a certain individual. Let Pancasila belong to all, a principle which must be guarded together. No one can tamper with Pancasila. And no one must be allowed to ever replace Pancasila. Let it be eternal and everlasting. Let Pancasila become a middle way ideology which can be accepted by all interest groups. Let Pancasila be the moderate ideology, neither to the right nor to the left. Neither communism nor capitalism. Not to the west nor to the east. Let Pancasila become a great ideology, which unites us all in its majestic glory. Pancasila is non-negotiable. Period! As a consequence, we must never taint or desecrate it. We must comprehend, adopt and implement its values in our daily life. 

Whatever the risks, whatever the price, Pancasila must be protected and must be kept alive. Pancasila must not be allowed to become a tool to legitimize a regime. It must not be owned and controlled by a certain institution which thinks it has the right to interpret Pancasila. There must not be a single interpretation of Pancasila. Pancasila must not be a dead ideology, without meaning and purpose. Don’t leave Pancasila to its own defense. We all have the obligation to protect and preserve it. We have the legal obligation to make Pancasila a vibrant and dynamic ideology, which can serve as a focal point and way of life for the Nation. We must love Pancasila as we do our own family. 

Pancasila is simple while we are complicated. Pancasila is great, but we often belittle it. Pancasila is a unifying ideology in contrast to our often divisive nature. And Pancasila is cool, but we are the one who reduce it to mere text to be memorized, without any implementation. Pancasila is awesome, but we sometimes abuse it. Pancasila is robust, but we tend to weaken it. Pancasila is borderless, we are the ones who put up barriers. Pancasila is extraordinary, we are the ones who sometimes make it mediocre. Pancasila is inspiring, but we make it dull. Pancasila is rich in moral values, but sometimes we ignore them. 

Leave Pancasila as it is. Let it remain strong and mighty. Let it always be free and inspiring. Let it be a light that illuminates every aspect of our life. Let it last forever. If Pancasila is still a symbol, jargon, or slogan, let us implement it. If Pancasila is still, let’s move. If Pancasila is alone, let’s keep it company. If Pancasila is under pressure or under attack, let’s protect and guard it more than anything else. Whatever the stake is, sacrificing our own life if necessary. Yes, we must be willing to die for Pancasila. 

Breathing soul into Pancasila 

Presently, Pancasila is like an inanimate object. As an ideology, it must be living, dynamic, enlightening, inspiring, and encouraging to its followers. Pancasila should not only be a view of life but it must be a way of life. This way it is not merely memorized, uttered, and thought about but also applied in daily life so that today’s young generation will also feel proud of leading a Pancasila way of life. What does the Pancasila way of life look like? Things like dressing neatly and politely. Not wearing clothes that are too revealing, let alone sexually provocative. They should behave politely and courteously with fellow countrymen they meet every day. They are not vain and arrogant as if the state and Pancasila belong to them. What they say in the media and in the real world is positive and productive as opposed to negative, insulting, slanderous, divisive, and provocative comments. 

The Pancasila way of life in the simplest form is to apply self-discipline. For example, not ignoring traffic lights when driving. But the fact that we see in the daily life is when there is no police officer standing guard, people tend to run red lights. This is certainly dangerous, and this has happened for a long time. Once, I even criticized the red-light violators that they cannot distinguish between the red, green, and yellow lights because their eyes are clouded by ignorance. The low level of discipline is a sign that we have yet to internalize Pancasila. The norm of order and discipline is an inherent and integral part of our Pancasila value system, one which ought to be practiced in daily life in order for it to be a living ideology and not relegated it to oblivion. 

Everything in this world has a soul. Plants, animals and humans. Therefore, they live and move. Inanimate objects also have soul. They are proof of the greatness of God’s creation. Humans who don’t have any soul are just zombies. They look as if they are alive, but they are actually dead. Everything in this universe, whatever it is, animate or inanimate, when they don’t have souls, they will die. They won’t be able to move. They are dead. They will be abandoned because they are considered gone and useless. The soul is very important, because the body and spirit without the soul will not be living. Soul is the most important element of every creature God created on this earth. No soul means death, nothing. 

If Pancasila does not have or has yet to have a soul, let’s give it one, so that it can be alive and dynamic, so that it can radiate a ray of goodness to this anxious nation. But when Pancasila already has a soul, don’t take it away. We are the ones who have to give Pancasila a soul. We are the ones who have to breathe life into it. We are the ones who have to make Pancasila on the move. We are the ones who must protect and guard Pancasila. It is us who bear the responsibility to preserve Pancasila, so that it can continue to live, enlighten, inspire, and become a way of life. The life or death of Pancasila depends on us all as its followers. The preservation or destruction of Pancasila depends on our willingness to guard, practice and preserve it. Whether Pancasila has a soul depends on us giving it one. Don’t let Pancasila die or only become a symbol or an accessory in life. Let’s make Pancasila alive, so that its light can illuminate the Motherland. 

Take a book, for example. A good book has a soul. Its words are alive and full of meaning. The sentences move and stimulate the mind, heart and spirit. The paragraphs are enlightening. Its chapters are encouraging while its cover and its author inspire. It’s a book that has a soul. A living book. Even though books are inanimate objects, their contents can build a civilization. Can last through different eras and generations. Even when the writer has died, the book keeps on living. His work is eternal. It can still be read and enjoyed by future generations. Unlike a bad book with no soul. It will not be able to change lives because it is unable to move and inspire others. 

The same goes with Pancasila. Pancasila must have a soul. This is what will bring it to life. If it has a soul, it will not become merely a symbol and jargon. It will become a living ideology. But it isn’t enough to just be a living ideology. It should also become an ideology that can grant a sense of justice and prosperity for all Indonesian people. Pancasila is never wrong. Pancasila will not die. Oftentimes, it was the state power and the rulers, or the traitors of the Nation who forced Pancasila to fade away and die. They consider Pancasila to be in their grasp and power, so it can be interpreted as they like. Pancasila is in the shadow of ruling power. It no longer a mutual possession. It no longer belongs to all Indonesian people. 

The soul of Pancasila is eternity. This means that Pancasila will last forever. It can’t die. It is timeless. The soul of Pancasila is the soul of Indonesia. It is rooted on Indonesian soil. Recognized as the state ideology. It lives in the Motherland that is Indonesia. Thus we must practice its values properly and consistently. We must protect and guard Pancasila with our body and spirit. Don’t let the soul of Pancasila disappear. Because if Pancasila does not have a soul, it will die and be undermined by evil hands who wish to replace it with a different ideology. This must be done to ensure that it can keep shining and remaining alive. For Pancasila to keep existing, let’s take care of it together. 

Pancasila is not only under attack from PKI or other anti-Pancasila ideologies, but also from the Nation’s traitors. They use politics and power to secretly undermine and replace Pancasila. Pancasila is non-negotiable as the final ideology of the Nation. And we will defend until the last drop of blood. Pancasila must also live in the hearts and minds of the children of the Nation. This means that Pancasila is not up for debate, let alone when the intention is to weaken it. We are against anyone who will replace the Pancasila with another ideology. Guarding Pancasila is the same as guarding religious values. And weakening Pancasila is the same as damaging religion. Pancasila was born from the values of the noble Islamic religion. Don’t contradict Pancasila with religions. 

Solution for the Nation’s plights 

There are many problems that plague society nowadays. And they must be overcome immediately. This country has so many problems that need to be resolved, because if they are neglected, they will become even bigger and will eventually damage and destroy the Nation. There are a number of major national problems that we must pay attention to. First, we lack the figure of a statesman. We don’t even have a unifying statesman. The highest ambition of a politician is to become a statesman. But we do not see that statesmanship in the politicians who are in power today. They are busy jostling for positions and securing their power. Also enriching themselves, their families and cronies. The narration that they put forward is also a narration of conflict, attacking each other and destroying each other. 

In the early days of Independence, this nation had many great statesmen. Their minds, hearts and actions were always in the interests of the people, nation and state. They always seek consensus in building the Nation. We can see how Islamic leaders did not force their will to include the Jakarta Charter by removing the “seven words” in the first principle of Pancasila. That’s because of the greatness of their souls, and their vision to preserve the unity of the Nation. They preferred consensus to agree on Pancasila as the foundation of the state. Now consensus has been practically gone in the political life of this country. The arrogance of power and political oligarchy has removed consensus from the inherent values of this nation. 

Second, there is another problem this nation currently faces, namely, the dual role of the police force. In the past people rejected the dual role of the armed forces (ABRI, as TNI is formerly known). TNI was orderly returned to barracks to focus on national defense. Now in the Reformation Era, there is a dual role of the police force. Nowadays we can see many policemen hold civil positions such as in the Ministries and more. If this is not checked it can be dangerous. Not only will it create jealousy, but also betrayal of Reformation ambitions. 

Third, people’s aspirations are blocked. At present, both the executive and the legislative branch no longer listen to the aspirations of the people. The people’s voices are no longer considered important. It’s a known fact that when people criticize the authorities, they will immediately be summoned and questioned by law enforcement officers. Power is always intimidating towards the people. Opposition is considered a threat. It takes magnanimity from anyone who is in power to not to be anti-criticism and to preserve the freedom of speech. Because expressing an opinion in public, whether verbally or in writing, is clearly guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Fourth, we still have problems with factions. Society is still polarized. The community is still tense. Still facing off against one another, in both the real world and the virtual world. Therefore, we all need the openness of mind and greatness of soul for all components of the Nation to forgive each other. And end the fight so that we can move on and for Pancasila to be actualized again in our daily lives. We don’t need any HIP bill. If I may offer a suggestion, we need a bill draft to preserve the ideology of Pancasila instead, because at the end of the day, Pancasila needs us to protect and preserve it, so it can live in eternity. (Dr.Ujang Komarudin M.Sc.)

Dr.Ujang Komarudin M.Sc. completed his studies earning his Bachelor Degree and Doctorate degree in political science at the University of Indonesia. He is currently Executive Director of Indonesia Political Review (IPR) and Lecturer of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Al-Azhar Indonesia (UAI) Jakarta. He is also Special Advisor to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.