Muhammadiyah distances itself from politics
The country’s second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, wrapped up its annual leadership meeting on Sunday by issuing a recommendation that the organization would leave politics and concentrate on social affairs, which had long been its focus.
Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said that the organization would become solely a social and religious organization and would no longer be associated with any political parties or organizations.
Until recently, the Muhammadiyah had been linked to the National Mandate Party. The decision could deal a severe blow to the party and its chairman, Hatta Rajasa, who has been eyeing the country’s top job in the 2014 presidential election.
Distancing the Muhammadiyah from PAN had been one of Din’s main goals since he was elected chairman in 2005.
“PAN has no direct affiliation with the Muhammadiyah,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Din said that although a large number of Muhammadiyah members were active in PAN, the two organizations remained separate entities.
When asked about the organization’s relation to PAN, Din only said: “PAN? Why should I care?”
Din also said the Muhammadiyah would maintain an equal distance from all other political parties in the country.
More than 300 members of the Muhammadiyah attended the June 21-24 meeting in Bandung.
In spite of what the meeting decided in its relationship with PAN, members of the party were seen flying an oversize banner at the gate of a hotel where the conference took place, congratulating participants.
The meeting also witnessed the handover of a seven-story building, formerly PAN’s central office in Warung Buncit, South Jakarta, to the Muhammadiyah central board, which will use it as a campus for a business college run by Muhammadiyah.
Former PAN chairman Sutrisno Bachir officially handed over the building and pledged to be more active in the Muhammadiyah now that he had retired from politics.
PAN was founded in 1998 soon after the downfall of former president Soeharto by a number of Muhammadiyah activists, including the organization’s chairman, Amien Rais.
The head of the national meeting’s organizing committee, Rafani Akhyar, said that participants did not talk about politics or the possibility of nominating Din as a presidential candidate in 2014.
“The meeting was never designed to talk about nominating him as a 2014 presidential candidate or which candidates to support. And we are firm about never participating in politics again,” he said.
“According to the theme, the leadership meeting was held simply to give enlightening inputs to the nation. The Muhammadiyah will touch practical politics,” Rafani said.
During the meeting, however, criteria for the country’s future leaders were compiled.
“Muhammadiyah suggests that Indonesians find a leader with vision, a nationalist-humanist, a solidarity-maker, a risk taker, decisive, a problem solver and a moral person,” Din said to officially conclude the meeting.
Din also maintained that the criteria was not applicable to him. “I have no intention of running as president and the meeting was not designed to discuss the matter,” he said. (aml)