The Jakarta Post
The central executive board of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization Muhammadiyah has called for a 'constitutional jihad' consisting of the annulment of laws and government regulations that have allowed land and forest fires to rage across large tracts of land.
'We have had a meeting with provincial executive boards and agreed to conduct the constitutional jihad,' Rahmawati Husein of Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center told a discussion forum on the haze held in Yogyakarta on Tuesday.
'Constitutional jihad', she said, was mandatory because many laws and regulations had been misappropriated.
As an example she said that Article 69 (2) of Law No. 32/2009 on environment management and Protection allowed a family to burn a maximum of two hectares of land under certain circumstances.
'What if 1,000 or 2,000 families do that burning, not to mention corporations disguising themselves as individuals and burning land for financial gain?' Rahmawati said.
According to her, one concrete example of this constitutional jihad could be examining and proposing annulment or amendment of laws and regulations down to the regional level that permit land clearing by burning.
Another speaker at the discussion forum, Eko Priyo Purnomo, said that there was no need for the Indonesian government to ask other nations to help deal with the fires.
As the world's lungs, he said, Indonesia had been maintaining the world's natural balance, allowing other countries to receive a free supply of oxygen for eight months.
'Not even thanking us, they scream when the haze reaches them,' he said.
Meanwhile in Riau, two months of school holidays caused by the haze has made students in the province lag behind in school.
Because of this, the provincial administration has asked the central government to postpone the national examinations to make up for the affected schedule.
'The postponement will give the students time to catch up,' Riau Education Agency head Kamsol said, adding that the proposal had been sent to the relevant ministries.
He said if students were forced to stick to the same schedule as the rest of the nation, the pressure might be too intense and students could fail.
'No region wants to have many of its students fail the exam because they had a long holidays due to the haze,' said Kamsol, adding that the proposal had received support from other provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan affected by haze.
He hoped that the related ministries would consider the proposal and make it as a reference to come up with a special policy on the national exam for haze affected regions.
'If otherwise, the alternative is by lowering the standard scores for school and university enrolments specially made for haze-affected regions,' he said.
Kamsol also said that to catch up on missed time, his office had instructed all schools to focus on subjects categorized as basic competence for the final examinations.
Teachers, he said, were also obliged to prepare and provide summaries of the curriculum modules so that the subjects' core materials could be absorbed sufficiently by the students in the relatively short time before the semester exam scheduled for Dec. 17 to 23.
'Subjects that are not that needed such as local studies and sports can be reduced or even omitted temporarily, and extracurricular activities can be too,' Kamsol said, adding that schools were also obliged to provide additional school hours of two subject hours per day.
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