26 June 2010

The FPI Strikes Again...

The Islamic Defenders' Front or Front Pembela Islam (FPI) has been out and about in the Eastern Javanese town of Banyuwangi doing its thing. That thing, as usual, is making a mockery of Islam and of Indonesia in a more general sense. This is sad because Indonesia is a wonderful place with wonderful people. But, like anything else it is the old cliche that tends to ring true: one bad apple will always spoil the box.

It seems that Commission IX on Health matters was holding a meeting in Banyuwangi as a means of 'socialising' the free health care components of current government policy to those living in the area. This led the FPI to claim that this was nothing more than a clandestine and covert attempt to resurrect the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia / PKI). And, consequently, this was a meeting that needed to be stopped at any cost. There is nothing quite like the opportunity to make a little bit of cash on the side, get a free meal, and be part of some gratuitous violence in order to get the rent a thugs out and wearing some white robes and t-shirts and other pieces of clothing to obscure their faces. I wonder how many Indonesians really believe that Communism is making a comeback in Indonesia when they consider great bastions of Communism such as China have already adopted a more capitalistic economic model?

As it turns out the Head of the Commission is in fact the daughter of a former communist or at least her identity papers used to say she was. Dr Ribka Tjiptaning Proletariati is the Head of the Commission, and even knowing nothing about her, her name might suggest that at least one of her parents had sympathies for the working class.

Nevertheless, the bigger issue here is that the meeting participants bowed to the FPI thug tactics and disbanded the meeting. This is sad. It is sad because the people that are most likely to suffer from the fallout of these events of thuggery in the name of religion or national pride are the 'little people'. These are the people that cannot afford to miss out.

The only thing more disturbing about this is the continual lack of interest and seriousness shown by law enforcement agencies and the government to rein in these thugs and shut them down. The longer law enforcement and the government resist the need to address the issue of FPI thuggery the more opportunities that those who want to criticise the government have to criticise the government and those agencies. These criticisms will inevitably question Indonesia's commitment to a plural society, the deradicalisation of fringe elements, and perhaps even to issues of good governance and corruption.

The FPI in its current form is not only giving Islam a bad name but it is giving Indonesia a bad name as well.

For a government that has proven skilled at spinning just about any news piece to make the president look like he is on top of things should have no trouble in spinning a crack down on the FPI as something that is overdue and necessary and not something that is construed as being anti-Islam.

Then again, maybe not.

Ho hum...

2 comments:

H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,
The FPI is just a gang of thugs who were recruited during the dying days of the Soeharto regime. When Habibie was president, this people were organized and trained by Gen. Wiranto in a group called PAM SWAKARSA. During the crisis in Ambon many of their members went there.
And today they are similar to those political parties using Islam to lure followers. Only that FPI would do what their masters, who give them money, told them.

Rob Baiton said...

Harry...

That is sort of my point :)

The game is up and it is time that SBY and law enforcement called the game up.