Friday, April 27, 2007

SBY asks Muhammadiyah to help solve poverty

M. Taufiqurrahman and Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked the country's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, to help solve Indonesia's economic problems by tailoring a program that will focus on poverty eradication.

Yudhoyono said Thursday that although Muhammadiyah had been successful in providing health and education for a large portion of the country's population, its contribution to the Indonesian economy had been minuscule.

"We have to admit that the contribution of Muhammadiyah in helping the economy grow has been relatively modest compared with its contribution to social activities," Yudhoyono said, while addressing hundreds of Muhammadiyah members who gathered for an annual national meeting in Yogyakarta.

Yudhoyono called on the meeting's participants to develop concrete plans and help enact programs that would benefit the country's poor.

"I hope that participants in this meeting can come up with programs that can economically empower the poor so they can be freed from the scourge of global capitalism," Yudhoyono said.

The President said the lack of Muhammadiyah-developed economic programs was due in part to the absence of businesspeople in the organization's leadership structure.

"Leadership in Muhammadiyah has been controlled lately by bureaucrats, intellectuals, politicians and activists," he said.

Yudhoyono admitted, however, that Muhammadiyah has contributed significantly to improving the quality of human resources in Indonesia through its educational institutions and healthcare facilities.

Muhammadiyah currently owns 5,754 schools and manages several large Islamic universities throughout the country. The organization also runs hundreds of Indonesian medical clinics and hospitals.

The country's second largest Muslim organization after Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah has some 30 million members. It was founded in Yogyakarta in November 1912 by Ahmad Dahlan, a Muslim scholar trained in Mecca.

The establishment of the organization, mostly by Muslim merchants in the sultanate town, was motivated by the spread of syncretism in the country, especially among the Javanese people.

Although it never officially formed a legitimate political wing, Muhammadiyah has been recognized as one of the country's main political forces with a number of its members having occupied ministerial posts in every administration, especially those relating to education and health.

Incumbent Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari and Minister for National Education Bambang Sudibyo are members of Muhammadiyah's executive board.

Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin has said the organization supports the application of a sharia-based economic system as part of efforts to resolve the country's current economic condition.

"This system has been applied in non-Muslim countries and I think it will be relevant for our country, which has a majority-Muslim population," Din said.

To meet that end, he added, the government should create a conducive environment for the application of the system.

Din also said that Muhammadiyah has thrown its weight behind the government's social welfare program, which has taken the form of, among other programs, free medical services for the poor.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Acting IPDN rector inaugurated

JAKARTA (Antara)
Home Affairs Ministry Thursday carried out an inaugural ceremony for newly appointed acting rector of the Institute of Public Administration, or IPDN, Johanis Kaloh, whoreplaced I Nyoman Sumaryadi.
Nyoman was suspended from his position over the death of Cliff Muntu, the institute student from North Sulawesi, last week.
"The decision of Home Affair Minister (Widodo Adi Sucipto) is a follow-up of president's order (to carry out total reform in the institute)," said Ministry's Secretary General Progo Nurdjaman, who represented Widodo in the inauguration.
He repeated announcement that the institute would not recruit new students this year as part of the cooling down following the fatal beating.
He said the ministry would invite regional leaders to discuss the reform process in the institute. Cliff Muntu died last week after participating in a campus activity. The police has named seven suspects over the incident. (**)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

IPDN rector suspended after student's death

M. Taufiqurrahman and Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Bandung
The Home Ministry suspended I Nyoman Sumaryadi from his post as rector at the Institute of Public Administration (IPDN) on Wednesday following the public outcry over the death of sophomore Cliff Muntu at the college.
Acting Home Minister Widodo Adi Sucipto said Sumaryadi would be suspended for the duration of internal reform at IPDN, which includes an investigation in the death of Cliff and other suspicious incidents at the college in the past.
"He is suspended so that the evaluation can go smoothly and will not be a burden for him," Widodo told reporters after a ceremony swearing in the members of the newly established Presidential Advisory Council.
Yohannes Kalo, an official with the Home Ministry, has been installed in Sumaryadi's place.
Sumaryadi said he would accept the government's decision to suspend him.
"As a civil servant and a professor, I am ready to be dismissed anytime. After all, I can still teach," Sumaryadi told reporters at the IPDN campus in Jatinangor, Sumedang, West Java.
The IPDN is currently under the management of the Home Ministry, but in a Monday cabinet meeting, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the establishment of an inter-departmental team that will start reform at IPDN, including transferring its management to the Education Ministry.
The team has been told it has two months to change the militaristic culture of the college that is blamed for the death of Cliff.
The President also ordered the end of all activities that involve junior-senior student relationships.
To break the cycle of violence among students, Yudhoyono has also decided that IPDN will not enroll new students for the 2007 academic year.
The government has also announced that it will rehash the curriculum of the college, which was established during the New Order era to train middle-ranking government officials.
This is not the first time the government has intervened in the college in the wake of violent incidents.
In September 2003, then Home Minister Hari Sabarno dismissed rector Sutrisno following the fatal beating of student Wahyu Hidayat.
Little changed after his dismissal, however, with many observers saying that the situation got worse instead.
It has been alleged that the college's faculty collected illegal levies from local governments that sent students to IPDN, with money also being taken from the stipend paid to the students.
The government annually spends around Rp 150 billion (US$16.4 million) to run IPDN.