All-Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals Created
From 6 to 8 December 1990, 512 Indonesian Muslim intellectuals from various disciplines and occupational backgrounds met at the student centre of Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java, to attend a national symposium on “Developing the Indonesian Society of the 21st Century”. The main objective of the symposium was the official foundation of the Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Se-Indonesia (ICMI – All-Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals).
The idea of establishing the association was born among a group of students in the Faculty of Technology of Brawijaya University. Next, they sought and obtained the support of several Muslim intellectuals in Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung and Yogyakarta. Prof. Dr. Ir. B.J. Habibie, Minister for Research and Technology and an expert in aeronautical engineering, was asked to accept the chairmanship of the organization. Prof. Habibie commented that at first he had refused, but had accepted his nomination upon President Soeharto’s insistence. During the symposium he was unanimously elected as the ICMI’s first chairman.
The main objective of the new organization is to increase the participation of Muslim intellectuals in the elaboration of the strategy for national development.
The great interest taken by the Indonesian government in the symposium was attested by the presence of several high-ranking government officials. The symposium was opened by President Soeharto and closed by Vice-President Sudharmono, and seven cabinet ministers attended the meeting, as well as General Try Sutrisno, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. Minister Habibie and Minister Salim of Population and Environment were among the speakers. Other prominent speakers were Prof Dr. Mukti Ali, lecturer at IAIN Sunan Kalijaga of Yogyakarta and former Minister of Religious Affairs, Dr. M. Amien Rais, lecturer in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Gadjah Mada University of Yogyakarta, Prof Dr. Ibrahim Hasan, Governor of Aceh, Drs. Dawam Rahardjo, chairman of the LSAF, and Dr. Nurcholish Madjid, lecturer at IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah of Jakarta and research worker at the LIPI.
The foundation of the ICMI was welcomed by several government officials and representatives of other Muslim organizations. One exception was the standpoint adopted by K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid, general chairman of the Tanfidziah of the Nandlatul Ulama. Abdurrahman Wahid declared that he neither supported nor opposed the creation of the new association, but he refused to join because in his view intellectuals should not organize themselves according to narrow categories such as their Islamic faith. This standpoint was criticized by K.H. Ali Yafie, deputy chairman of the Syuriah of the NU.
Meanwhile, in a public statement the Persatuan Inteligensia Kristen Indonesia (PIKI – Indonesian Union of Christian Intellectuals) in a public statement welcomed the creation of the ICMI and declared it hoped to discuss the strategy of national development together with this new sister movement.
The question whether students should be included in the new organization aroused some discussion. Habibie suggested this, but the Minister of Youth and Sports, Akbar Tanjung, declined the suggestion,
arguing that students already had their own associations and representative bodies. (PM, 1-10, 11-20 Dec.; SU, 5, 7, 8 Dec.; HT, 6-10 Dec.; KO, 6-9, 11 Dec.; PE, SP, 6-11 Dec.; JP, 6-11, 26 Dec.; JJ, TE, 8 Dec.; ED, PS, 8, 15 Dec.; WP, 11 Dec. 1990)
According to Dawam, the draft was made without consulting other members of the association and no post of secretary-general was provided for. Habibie replied that the heads of the six different departments to be formed would refer directly to the chairman, who would be assisted by a board of experts and a board of counsellors. Such a structure was the most sophisticated system of management available, he declared, and was used by many political organizations and large companies.
The criticism came to a head at a seminar organized on 30 January by the Lembaga Pengkajian Agama dan Masyarakat (Institute for Religious and Social Studies) of the Pemuda Muhammadiyah in Jakarta. The speakers present at this meeting generally expressed their fear that the ICMI would become a mere government tool, led by government officials and forged to control Muslim intellectuals.
In later reactions, Habibie denied the ICMI was facing a problem and declared the composition of the executive body of the organization would be announced by the middle of February 1991. When it was actually published on 13 February, it turned out that the position of secretary-general was not
provided for, but the function of executive secretary was offered to Dr. Ir. Wardiman Djojonegoro. Prof. Dr. Emil Salim (chairman), K.H. Ali Yafie and Dra. H. Tutty Alawiyah (vice-chairpersons) would lead the board of advisors and Prof. Dr. Achmad Baiquni (chairman), Dr. Nurcholish Madjid and Drs. Dawam Rahardjo (vice-chairmen) the board of experts. (BB, 24, 31 Jan., 6, 10, 14 Feb.; PE, 31 Jan., 6, 14 Feb.; JP, 1 Feb.; ED, 2 Feb.; TE, 9 Feb.; KO, 14 Feb. 1991)
Rapid Organizational Expansion
The recently created Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Se-Indonesia is rapidly developing its organizational structure. A structural plan for the different levels of its organization was worked out. With regard to its geographical extension, the ICMI has already established 24 provincial organizations. In addition the ICMI has plans to expand its organization abroad, especially to the USA and Europe, where many Indonesian Muslims are studying. The European activities of the ICMI will be co-ordinated by Prof. Dr. Bintoro Tjokroamidjojo, Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands. From 1964-1974 Prof. Bintoro was chairman of the Persatuan Sarjana Muslim Indonesia (Union of Indonesian Muslim Scholars). (BB, 21 Aug.; TE, 7 Sep. 1991)
The ICMI has also started to co-operate with other organizations. The first agreement of this kind was signed on 2 June 1991 between the ICMI and the Perhimpunan Pengembangan Pesantren dan Masyarakat (P3M – the Federation of Pesantren and Community Development). The co-operation is aimed at improving the quality of the education in pesantrens and at developing the communities surrounding them. The co-operation agreement includes projects related to the development of self-supporting economic activities in pesantrens. (PE, 3 June 1991)
ICMI’s First National Working Meeting
The ICMI held its first “Silaturahmi Kerja Nasional” (National Working Meeting) in Jakarta from 3 to 7 December 1991, coinciding with the first anniversary of the foundation of the organization. The meeting, which was attended by about 550 participants, successfully elaborated on a number of important documents, including a code of ethics, a concept of dedication and a khittah of the ICMI. The ethical code emphasizes that the ICMI will bear in mind the name of God, reflect on and work for the realization of khairah ummah (the best possible community) on the basis of belief in God, the Pancasila spirit and loyalty to the Indonesian constitution.
The meeting also decided on 24 working programmes. Three of these programmes concerned scientific development, nine the development of a democratic economy, nine the development of human resources and the development of the Muslim community and three programmes concerned the development of the organization itself and its institutions. As for the programmes for economic development, it was decided in co-operation with the Bank Muamalat Indonesia, to establish a number of popular credit banks (BPRs) based on Islamic Law, to develop a system for the collection and utilization of zakiih, infaq and sadaqah, which could be trusted by Muslims and be effective and efficient, to socialize the Islamic doctrine on testimony for the welfare of Muslims as well as to manage foreign aid and to establish an Islamic Centre with study and boarding facilities in Jakarta.
On the last day of the meeting, after hearing a report on the particular difficulties and needs of the Muslims in East Timor by a member of the ICMI branch of that province, the participants spontaneously organized a fund-raising and collected Rp 4.7 million, 100 Dutch guilders and scholarships for 198 students from that region.
President Soeharto, in a written address which was read by the chairman of the ICMI, B.J. Habibie, said that the intellectual community could contribute to the development process with critical and constructive opinions. He urged the ICMI to promote the national objective of improving the quality of life of the people. He warned them, however, to avoid the growth of sectarianism and “primordialism” (the accentuation of primary social groups such as ethnic and religious ones) because this would weaken the national unity. Meanwhile, when receiving the executives of the ICMI in the Merdeka Palace of Jakarta, Vice-President Sudharmono said that there was no ban on difference of opinion or tough standpoints provided that they respected the national Pancasila ideology and the constitution.
The meeting was also highlighted by speeches from Prof. Dr. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, a well-known economist and former minister of Research and Technology, and of Prof. Dr. Emil Salim, Minister of Population and Environment. (JP, 6 Dec.; PE, 6, 8, 12 Dec.; WP, 8 Dec.; BB, KO, 9 Dec. 1991)
Aswab Mahasin and Emha Ainun Nadjib Quit ICMI
Aswab Mahasin, the chairman of the Department for Development of Education and Training of the ICMI, quit the association stating that he could not afford the time required for his duties. Actually, he left in December 1991 but this was only revealed in early March 1992. Indeed, Mahasin, both before and after leaving the ICMI, was very busy with lectures, seminars, research and publications in various mass media. It was suggested, however, that he had concealed the real reason of his decision. He refused to reveal whether it was related to a difference of opinion with the other ICMI executives.
The secretary-general of the ICMI, Wardiman, did not see the departure of both Mahasin and Emha Ainun Nadjib as an indication of conflicts. ICMI chairman Prof. Dr. Ir. B.J. Habibie voiced a similar opinion.
In August 1991, Emha Ainun Nadjib, chairman of the Department of Cultural Dialogue of the ICMI, quit the Central Board of the ICMI because he was not satisfied with the political line, taken by the organization (see p. 70). (ED, 14 March 1992)
Tycoon Probosutedjo Donated ICMI
On 22 May 1992, Probosutedjo, a noted Indonesian businessman, donated a cheque for Rp 1 milliard from the Mercu Buana Group, which he heads, to the ICMI in order to support its programme to combat poverty and to raise the welfare of the poorest section of the Indonesian population. The donation was received by the chairman of the ICMI, B.J. Habibie. (BB, JP, PE, SP, 23 May 1992)
Habibie Responds to Criticism on Sectarianism and Fundamentalism
After receiving the above mentioned donation from the hands of Probosutedjo, B.J. Habibie used the opportunity to respond to certain negative statements on Indonesian Islam in general and the ICMI in
particular. He explained that the Islamic revival in Indonesia would not turn fundamentalist like in Algeria or Afghanistan. Islam in Indonesia will not degenerate into fundamentalism or become a threat to other religions. Islam in Indonesia was an Islam that was in unison with the philosophy and history of the nation. There was no need to worry because for Indonesians, the majority of whom are Muslims, the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution are the final answer to all political and social questions. They had established Pancasila which allows any religion to develop in Indonesia. So, fear of fundamentalism here is baseless. Islam is not equivalent to fundamentalism, he added.
Habibie also denied the allegations of certain people that the ICMI was an exclusive and sectarian organization. He declared that ICMI was an Islamic organization which works for the prosperity of the people. On democracy, he said that the only suitable democracy in Indonesia was Pancasila democracy which stipulates freedom with responsibility. (BB, JP, PE, 23 May 1992)
ICMI Creates Yayasan Abdi Bangsa
The organizational development of the ICMI goes apace. On 17 August 1992, that is on the Indonesian Independence Day, the ICMI created a foundation called “Yayasan Abdi Bangsa” (Foundation of Devotion to the Nation) in the Le Meridien Hotel, Jakarta.
The Abdi Bangsa Foundation was initiated by 45 well-known Indonesian figures including the Indonesian First Lady, Mrs. Tien Soeharto, Vice-President Sudharmono, several cabinet ministers (Rudini, Ir. Drs. Ginandjar Kartasasmita, Prof. Dr. Emil Salim, Bustanil Arifin, S.H., Ir. Azwar Anas, Prof. Dr. Saleh Miff, Ir. Hasjrul Harahap, Ir. Hartarto, Ali Alatas, S.H., Dr. Arifin M. Siregar, Munawir Sjadzali, M.A., Prof Dr. Sjarifudin Baharsjah, Nasrudin Sumintapura, M.A., Prof. Dr. B.J. Habibie and Ir. Akbar Tanjung), the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Try Sutrisno, national tycoons (Ir. Aburizal Bakrie, Ibrahim Risjad, Ir. Fadel Muhammad, Bambang Trihatmodjo, Probosutedjo, Bob Hasan, and Sudwikatmono) and Islamic leaders and intellectuals (K.H. Ali Yafie, Dr. Nurholish Madjid, K.H. Hasan Basri, Prof Dr. A. Baiquni, Prof Dr. Ismail Sunny, K.H. Zainul Arifin Ahmad and H. Tufty Alawiyah) as well as former vice-president Umar Wirahadikusuma, and former ministers Alamsjah Ratuperwiranegara, Surono, and Dr. Abdul Gafur. Meanwhile President Soeharto was named as its patron and Vice-President Sudharmono and former vice-president Umar Wirahadikusuma as its advisers. The foundation is aimed at assisting the ICMI by collecting and managing funds for the different programmes of the organization and in general by supporting the organization in the implementation of different projects related to the development of the Muslim population. The starting capital of the foundation consists of an amount of Rp 1 milliard plus further donations and funds provided by different people.
After signing and inaugurating the establishment of the foundation, the chairman of the ICMI, B.J. Habibie, stated that the development of the quality of the Muslims in Indonesia was urgent, because it meant the development of almost 90 percent of the population and therefore simultaneously aimed at increasing the quality of the Indonesian nation as a whole.
According to him, originally the name of the foundation was to have been “Yayasan ICMI”, but, on the proposal of Minister of Information Harmoko this was replaced by “Yayasan Abdi Bangsa” because all its adherents work together in the nation’s interest.
On this occasion, a number of programmes of the new foundation such as the establishment of an Islamic centre and a new daily named “Republika” were announced. This newspaper would be headed by Dr. Dawam Rahardjo, chairman of the LSAF, professor at the Universitas Muhammadiyah of Malang, East Java, and one of the founding fathers of the ICMI. Dawam Rahardjo was also mentioned as the future rector of the Sultan Agung Islamic University of Semarang, Central Java and, when asked which
function he would prefer if he had to choose between them, he answered that he would opt for the second. (PE, 18 Aug; WP, 18, 24 Aug; JP, 19 Aug. 1992)
USA Branch of ICMI Established
The new organization keeps growing, abroad as well. On 28 October 1992, the chairman of the ICMI, B.J. Habibie, inaugurated the Regional Organization of the ICMI in the United States of America (USA) and installed its executive board, which is co-ordinated by Burhanuddin Abdullah. It co-ordinates all local units in various American cities, such as Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Houston. Abdul Rahman Ramly, the Indonesian ambassador to the USA, Nugroho
Wisnumurti, the Indonesian ambassador to the United Nations, and several other Indonesian diplomats in the USA were named as advisers to the new regional organization of the ICMI. (BB, PE, 31 Oct. 1992)
Police Disband ICMI Seminar on Human Rights
The activities organized by the ICMI also included public discussions. Not all of them were plain sailing.
The head of the Police in the Menteng district of Jakarta, Major Adjie, disbanded a seminar on human rights which was organized by the ICMI at its secretariat on J1. Thamrin, Central Jakarta, on 3 May 1992, for the reason that it was held without a permission from the authorities. The police officer cited Article 510 of the Criminal Code which states that a gathering must have police permission before it can take place. The chairman of the organizing committee of the seminar, Andrinov A. Chaniago, admitted that he had not applied for a permit for the seminar because it was a routine, internal seminar which had been held three times previously. There had been no problem with the previous seminars. Andrinov and other members of the organizing committee tried to negotiate with the officer but without avail.
About 60 people had gathered for the seminar, which had as its theme “Human Rights in the Perspective of the Indonesian Nation”. Actually, the seminar was to have presented several noted figures such as the lawyer T. Mulya Lubis, the social scientist Aswab Mahasin, the political scientist Prof. Dr. Deliar Noer, the law professor Dr. Ismail Sunny, the human rights activist H.J. Princen and Chris Siner Key Timu, a member of the critical “Petisi 50” of 1980. Dawam Rahardjo, deputy chairman of the Expert Council of the ICMI, supposed that the real reason of the banning might have been the presence of “unwelcome speakers” such as Princen and Chris Siner. (JP, 4 May; TE, 9 May 1992)
On 2 May, the government announced that it banned all activities which assembled more than 50 people from 3 May till 3 June 1992 in relation with the election of 9 June. (KO, 4 May; cf. JP, 30 April 1992)
Second National Working Meeting of ICMI
From 5 to 7 December 1992, the ICMI held its second “Silaturahmi Kerja Nasional” in Jakarta. The meeting was opened by Minister of Home Affairs Rudini and was attended by 496 participants. Answering a question launched during a discussion, Rudini confirmed that it was impossible to
transform the ICMI into a new political party because this would not be in line with the spirit which had led to the establishment of two political parties (the PPP and the PDI) and the Golongan Karya (Golkar), namely the desire to avoid the political turmoil which had occurred during the previous period, when Indonesia had followed a liberal political system. Besides this, he also confirmed that the existence of the ICMI need not be suspect and be associ-ated with extreme right-wing Muslim forces.
Therefore, the Muslim community should prove that the ICMI could contribute valuable ideas to the
Indonesian nation and the organization should actively uphold communication with various other groups and organizations. The participant who had brought up the issue suggested that the ICMI deserved political status because it had been expanding rapidly. It not only has sections in all Indonesian provinces, but also in Europe, the Middle East, the United States and even in China.
In connection with this statement, Saleh Khalid, a member of the House of Representatives, said that efforts to transform the ICMI into a political party could interfere with its ideal of strengthening national unity and seeking reforms in various fields and would also conflict with the law on political and mass organizations. He concluded that turning the ICMI into a political party would mean a step back for the association. Meanwhile, the chairman of ICMI, B.J. Habibie, declared that the ICMI should not be seen as the Masyumi, a Muslim political party which was created in 1943 and was forced to dissolve itself in 1960, because the ICMI had been established to contribute to development of human resources of all Indonesians, irrespective of their religion.
On 7 December, before the closing of the national working meeting, President Soeharto received the executive members of the ICMI, led by Habibie, in the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. On that occasion he emphasized that the Indonesian nation should not think about or struggle for an alternative system to replace the official Pancasila ideology and the Constitution of 1945. In transmitting this message, Habibie warned that such efforts could not be tolerated. Besides this Habibie revealed that President Soeharto had bought one share of the daily newspaper Republika. The first issue of this newspaper was published on 4 January 1993.
The paper is published by PT Abdi Massa (Servant of the Masses) of the Abdi Bangsa (Servant of the Nation) Foundation, which was formed by the ICMI. The capital needed to publish the new daily was estimated at Rp 40 milliard, mostly to be secured by the sale of shares. The allotment of the shares was established as follows: 51% belong to PT Abdi Massa, 20% to the newspaper’s employees and 29% to the public. The shares would be sold at Rp 4,000 each, and were offered especially to Indonesian Muslims, who would be allowed to purchase one share each. The shareholders would not be obliged to be subscribers to the paper and they were not allowed to sell their shares so as to avoid it falling into the hands of a particular business group. Habibie pointed out that Parni Hadi, managing editor of the national news agency Antara, would be appointed editor-in-chief of the new paper.
Besides this, according to the chairman of the organizing committee of the meeting, Adi Sasono, the ICMI would publish three other publications in the form of a weekly, monthly, and quarterly respectively.
In the framework of the same meeting, the ICMI also held a seminar on human rights. Speaking at this seminar were several well-known figures from the world of law such as Adnan Buyung Nasution and T. Mulya Lubis. (BB, 4, 7 Dec.; KO, PE, 7, 8 Dec.; JP, 8 Dec. 1992)
Amien Rais Responds Sjahrir on ICMI
Controversies about the role of the Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Se-Indonesia have continued. Dr. Amien Rais, an executive member of the Muhammadiyah and the ICMI and a lecturer in international politics at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, responded to an article on recent economic and political developments in Indonesia written by Dr. Sjahrir, a noted Indonesian economist, in the Asian Wall Street Journal, a Hong Kong- based economic daily, of 29 April 1993. Shahrir’s article was entitled “Groping Through the Dark in Indonesia”.
Amien Rais said that Sjahrir had a right to write that a kind of new mafia had emerged in Jakarta, led by B.J. Habibie, the State Minister for Research and Technology and chairman of the ICMI; that the direction of the Indonesian economic development is still obscure; that it was regrettable that
Radius Prawiro, Adrianus Mooy and J.B. Sumarlin had not been retained in the new cabinet. However, Rais felt very offended when Sjahrir stated that the ICMI was a creation of President Soeharto to enable Indonesian Muslims to unleash their frustrations against Chinese Indonesians. Sjahrir also added that a racist undercurrent was increasingly affecting Indonesian society and politics.
According to Amien Rais, these statements were tendentious, even rather poisonous. He declared that neither the upper nor the under-stream of the Indonesian Muslims nor of the Indonesian nation as a whole were racialist. He could not understand why a noted economist should write a paper in this vein.
Indonesian Muslims, he said, are probably the most tolerant religious community in the world today. They do not show any tendency to become religious communities like those in India or North Ireland, which are all too willing to take destructive and negative actions. The Muslim majority in Indonesia forms a guarantee for the absence of religious conflict, which would be a threat to the unity-in-diversity of the nation. Indonesian history had proved so too, he concluded. (RE, 10 May 1993)
Soeharto Appointed Patron of ICMI
On 24 August 1993, a delegation of the ICMI, led by its chairman, Prof. Dr. B.J. Habibie, met President Soeharto in the Bina Graha state office, to ask him to become the patron of the association. The delegation consisted of Dr. Wardiman Djojonegoro, Prof. Dr. Emil Salim, Prof. K.H. Ali Yafie, Prof. Dr. A. Baiquni, Prof. Drs. M. Dawam Rahardjo, Dr. Nurcholish Madjid, Dr. Muslimin Nasution and Dra. Tutty Alawiyah. Habibie reported that Soeharto accepted this request in his capacity as an ordinary citizen and not as head of state. He wished to stress this to avoid the rise of false interpretations and speculations.
Habibie revealed that the association had agreed to ask Soeharto to be its patron during its national co-ordinating meeting in July 1993. The meeting was attended by 28 members of the regional co-ordinating boards and all members of the association’s central board. It agreed to draw up an
addendum to its statutes that would underline the need for an influential figure to act as patron of the association. He explained that there was no council of patrons for the association. It has a board of advisors and a board of experts, but it has only a single patron. He thanked Soeharto for his willingness to become the patron of the organization. The next day, the ICMI also asked Vice-President Try Sutrisno to become counsellor of the organization. Then, in the middle of September 1993, the ICMI asked two former vice-presidents, Sudharmono and Umar Wirahadikusuma, to occupy the same position. (JP, 25 Aug.; RE, 26, 29 Aug.; PE, 21 Sep. 1993)
Commenting on these steps taken by the ICMI, Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Roman Catholic priest of German origin and lecturer at the Driyarkara College of Philosophy in Jakarta, in a discussion on the function of intellectuals on 27 August 1993, declared that the ICMI and other pressure groups should recognize the danger of losing sight of their purpose if they come to close to the centre of power because one of the most important functions of pressure groups was to challenge the legitimacy of the holders of power. Nevertheless, he understood the difficulties the ICMI was facing:
organizations had no choice but to take sides when they entered politics. However, Magnis-Suseno suggested that the ICMI should remain open minded. He also believed that there are individuals whose intellectual judgement remains intact despite their closeness to the centre of power, he added. (JP, 28 Aug. 1993)
On 10 September 1993, Habibie confirmed that the ICMI was not a political force and certainly would not become a political party. Anyone who still had doubts about this should study the ICMI statutes and rules. The ICMI is a group of intellectuals who strive to develop the human resources in Indonesia. He also denied that its latest manoeuvre had anything to do with the national congress of the Golkar, which was scheduled to be held in the middle of October 1993. He went on to say that, in view of the development of human resources, the association needed to forge co- operation with other religious communities. Educational institutions, including pesantrens, should play a role in this development process, too, he added. Earlier, on 28 August 1993, the commander-in-chief of the ABRI, Gen. Feisal Tanjung confirmed that the ICMI had shown absolutely no tendency to become a political organization and that the relations between the Armed Forces and the ICMI were good. (KO, 25 Aug.; PE, 25 Aug., 10 Sep.; BB, 26 Aug.; RE, 29 Aug.; JP, 11 Sep. 1993)
Source: Darul Aqsha, Dick van der Meij, Johan Hendrik Meuleman, Islam in Indonesia: A Survey of Events and Developments from 1988 to March 1993. Jakarta-Leiden: INIS, pp 263-176.