Unity in diversity makes the nation strong, says Boediono
It takes a Martin Luther King Jr. for Indonesia to believe that living a harmonious life will make the nation powerful.
Quoting the American civil rights activist, Indonesian Vice President Boediono reminded the nation on Friday of the importance of unity in diversity.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” Boediono said at a ceremony marking Pancasila Day at the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) building here on Friday.
He said Indonesia had no option but to remain united to survive.
Boediono called on the nation to unite despite people’s differences in ethnicity and faith.
He also called on all elements of society to revisit the values of state ideology Pancasila to move forward as a solid and strong nation.
“On this day 67 years ago, president Sukarno read out for the first time the ideals of Pancasila. Sukarno and all the other founding fathers went through constant struggles to unite the nation and to formulate the values of Pancasila as a principle to hold the nation together. Today, we are challenged to put aside our differences to remain united,” Boediono said.
The ceremony was attended by, among others, former presidents Megawati Soekarnoputri and BJ Habibie as well as former vice presidents Try Sutrisno, Hamzah Haz and Jusuf Kalla.
Religious figures such as Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) chairman Martinus Situmorang, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) chairman Said Aqil Siradj, Communion of Churches (PGI) chairman Andreas Yewangoe and Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin were also in the audience.
The host of the event, MPR speaker Taufiq Kiemas, was absent due to ill health.
In his speech, Boediono also cited religious fanaticism and chauvinism as threats to the country’s unity.
His speech comes at a time when the nation’s freedom of religion is under threat by religious fundamentalist groups.
The increasing religious fundamentalism includes the attacks on Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Banten, and the constant harassment of the GKI Yasmin congregation in Bogor, West Java.
According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the situation for religious minorities has significantly worsened since 2008.
According to the HRW, the attacks on minority religious groups nationwide rose from 135 incidents in 2007 to 216 in 2010 and 184 attacks in the first few months of 2011.
The latest cases include the recent closure of 17 churches in Aceh.
Furthermore, Boediono said the nation’s adoption of regional autonomy was a stimulus for the regions to maintain national unity.
“Nothing will go well unless we revisit the values of Pancasila. Let’s put aside our differences to move forward,” he said, drawing upon Sukarno’s friendship with Dutch Catholic priests during his exile in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, in 1938 to illustrate that a noble ideal for humanity should outweigh differences.
The ceremony is organized every June 1 to commemorate the day when then president Sukarno read out the principles of Pancasila as the country’s ideology in 1945.
The ideology comprises five tenets: belief in one god, humanity, unity; deliberation for representation and social justice for all.
Speaking on behalf of Taufiq, who has been hospitalized with suspected scarlet fever, MPR deputy chairman Lukman Hakim said, “No laws will function effectively unless they are based on Pancasila.”
Delivering his speech, KWI head Martinus emphasized that the country’s many ethnicities, cultures and religions could survive only if Indonesia held fast to Pancasila.
Similarly, NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj said that commemoration was an invitation for the nation to revisit the commitment to unite.