Khofifah Indar Parawansa

Apr 2nd, 2008, in IM Posts, by

On whether women, in this case Khofifah Indar Parawansa, are suitable for regional leadership positions.

On 28th March Suryadharma Ali of the Development Party, Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP) announced the candidacy of Khofifah Indar Parawansa for the East Java governor's election in July.

Khofifah Indar Parawansa
Khofifah Indar Parawansa.

Khofifah is the head of the womens' wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the Muslimat NU, and only recently joined the PPP, jumping ship from Gus Dur's PKB.

East Java is not the PPP's strongest area and they had been hoping to run a joint ticket with another Islamic party, the Justice Party, Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS), in order to reach the 15% electoral threshold needed to compete, and give them a chance of victory, however slim, against the heavyweight parties of Golkar, PDI-P, and PKB.

However on the same day as the announcement PKS official Muhammad Siroj said the Syariah Council of the East Java branch of the Justice Party is reluctant to support a woman for the position of provincial governor.

The Syariah Council have already given their opinion [against it], the question of female leadership is one that results in differences of opinion among clerics.

Not only did the Syariah Council oppose it, he said, but also among the rank and file of the PKS, and the PPP he thought, there was a lot of opposition to Khofifah's candidacy, based on her sex.

When I put forward her name I got a lot of SMS messages from PKS members [opposing it].

Muhammad says that neither he nor PKS national leader Hidayat Nur Wahid has any objection to Khofifah on personal grounds, but that there exist religious objections among many. [1]

Suryadharma Ali however said that in the PPP's view only the presidency was not suitable for a woman (presumably because she would then function as military Commander in Chief). In East Java there were already women regents, in Tuban and Banyuwangi (Ratna Ani Lestari), so there was no problem with a woman governor either, he said. [2]


22 Comments on “Khofifah Indar Parawansa”

  1. avatar rima says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 1:13 am

    of course we are suitable for leadership positions. any of them, be it regional or national or international.

    my own personal quote: “While I agree that the husband is the head of a family, I must insist that the wife is the neck of the family, for she is the one supporting the head and she is also the one who points him in the right direction” – Rima Fauzi

  2. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Not so long ago the PKS held a party congress on Bali where they declared there were no longer an purely Islamic party but based on the slogan “Rise up Indonesia, there is still hope” and that the party was open to receive non-Muslim members.

    Cultural Diversity

    It’s “good” to see the PKS is showing its real intentions again.

  3. avatar Andrew says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 3:12 am

    No question there are capable women leaders out there, the real question here is whether this Khofifah is one of them :)

  4. avatar djoko says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 10:45 am

    It’s “good” to see the PKS is showing its real intentions again.

    PKS previously supported Marissa Haque, a woman, for the deputy governorship of Banten.

    Of course even in the 2004 elections PKS has had a habit of nominating women for positions in parliament. That is to say more than any other party.

    http://www.tempointeraktif.com/hg/nasional/2004/01/28/brk,20040128-32,id.html

    I found it quite funny how secular parties actually rated as those who were furthest away from the 30% quota.

    Not to say that PKS is a fully open and egalitarian party (the Syuro council itself is still dominated by men, and women don’t frequent very often in branch leadership positions).

    Just looking to provide a little balance, thats all.

  5. avatar Rob says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Husbands are head of the household!

    Yeah, right!

    Someone should tell my better half that a woman’s and wife’s place is subserviant to her man…but be prepared for a trip to the hospital!

    The questions about women, as they must also be for men, is whether the individual seeking election to the office has the skills and abilities to do the job! The focus should be on her record and her abilities to do the job and if those bear out then where does some group of men get to determine the outcome with words to the effect of “you seem qualified and you have passed the fit and proper test standards applicable, but unfortunately you are a women so you cannot run in this election!”

    Sometimes I wonder whether or not everyone has entered the 21st Century or are some of our fellow citizens still hungering for centuries past where women were nothing more than chattels to be owned!

  6. avatar trane says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Andrew said:
    “No question there are capable women leaders out there, the real question here is whether this Khofifah is one of them”

    Right, but as Rob observes, we have no chance of knowing this when people raise only ‘religious objections’. It is a poor stance by PKS leadership to say simply that they ‘have nothing against Kholifah’s person’. Apart from that, thanks Djoko for putting things into perspective.

    Best regards,
    trane

  7. avatar Murphy says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Why do I have the nagging feeling that this “men is the head of the household” thing should be taken with a bucket of salt? The more I meet Indonesian couples, the more I suspect that the saying is actually something akin to calling the Queen the Ruler of England. Tradition calls for that, but it hardly reflects the actual distribution of power.

  8. avatar David says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Djoko, on Marissa Haque, she ran as deputy as you said, is there any chance that PKS Banten would have put her first on the ticket, or any woman? I don’t know the answer, just asking.

  9. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 2nd, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Just looking to provide a little balance, thats all.

    djoko, I appreciate your efforts to show there is some nuance and I acknowledge that but I’m afraid there’s no more diversity left in Indonesia in the future when I look at the current pace of Islamisation of Indonesian politics and society.

  10. avatar Rambutan says:
    April 3rd, 2008 at 11:32 am

    djoko, I appreciate your efforts to show there is some nuance and I acknowledge that but I’m afraid there’s no more diversity left in Indonesia in the future when I look at the current pace of Islamisation of Indonesian politics and society.

    No, Djoko is absolutely right with his remarks. PKS is not a monolithic block. It has a more liberal-minded wing, it has hardliners. It is true that they had the largest number of female candidates in 2004 (compare that to Golkar and PDI-P) and that they nominated Marisa Haque. You cannot refute these facts. It is also true that you have a large number of hardline idiots in the party. Let PKS sort that out for itself. If they don’t open up they will never become the strong political force they claim to be. Look at Indonesian voters behavior. Hard line parties cannot attract a significant amount of votes.
    The fears of an ‘Islamisation of Indonesia’ are usually blown out of proportion.

  11. avatar djoko says:
    April 3rd, 2008 at 11:35 am

    @ patung

    Actually I seem to recall at the time that even though she was placed on the ticket as a deputy that in itself still generated enough of a debate in the party over whether she should be nominated or not even as a deputy (as even a role as a ‘deputy’ governor was seen for all intents and purposes as a leadership position). I suppose we’ll see soon enough with regards to whether they go ahead and support Khofifah as to whether they really can support the idea of a woman being first on the ticket.

    But its not as though this has appeared out of nowhere, it looks like its part of a long series of negotiations. If you look for example at this article in late March you’ll notice that PKS felt it could go with the idea of Khofifah as a cagub, but her deputy would be subject to discussions. The central party branch also had Khofifah in its considerations, but came into conflict with the East Java branch of the party. Even then, East Java branch appeared interested in taking the Marissa route all over again by nominating Khofifah, but as a deputy.

    To be honest there’s an awful lot going on here, and its not all a matter of ‘we say that Islam says no women leaders, so we reject Khofifah’s candidacy’.

    @ Lairedion

    Islamisation has been going on for a long time in Indonesia, and likely will never be ‘complete’ (whatever that might mean). There’s still plenty of diversity and room for change around. A lot of the controversy about things like PKS actually resembles the hoo-hah between the NU and Muhammadiyah so long ago. Indonesia has a habit of moderating things in the long run, and if you talk to both hardheaded secularist and fundamentalist observers of PKS you’ll notice that they both come to the same conclusion that its a very pragmatic party.

    I’ve talked to secularist observers who are absolutely convinced that PKS acts pragmatically because its all part of their hidden plan (they must have the documents hidden in their office somewhere) to enforce a Taliban-state on Indonesia once they have the numbers. Then again I talk to conservative Muslims and they are absolutely convinced that the PKS is just selling Islam to get into parliament and into the large amounts of money available to public officials and has (unforgivably in their mind) absolutely no intention whatsoever of enforcing an Islamic state. Go figure.

    @ Rambutan

    Let PKS sort that out for itself. If they don’t open up they will never become the strong political force they claim to be. Look at Indonesian voters behavior. Hard line parties cannot attract a significant amount of votes.

    Could not have said it better myself. Democracy will either moderate the party or punish it for its failure to do so.

  12. avatar Sailal says:
    April 3rd, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Go ahead Khofifah, show your perfomance in leading the East Jawa, and change Indonesia from there.

  13. avatar Pena Budaya says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 2:26 am

    There was a Sunni hadith mentioned Muhammad had once said that people with a female ruler will never be successful. I think these backwards clerics are sunni followers.

    Oh my, why do these people believe so much on hadith in which very often contradicted to the fact of life of Muhammad?? Muhammad’s first wife khadijah was succeeded in managing her father’s business interests and preserving the family’s vast wealth. If not because of her money, brain and success in running the business, perhaps Muhammad doesn’t exist!

  14. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 2:37 am

    @djoko and Rambutan,

    Let PKS sort that out for itself. If they don’t open up they will never become the strong political force they claim to be. Look at Indonesian voters behavior. Hard line parties cannot attract a significant amount of votes.
    The fears of an ‘Islamisation of Indonesia’ are usually blown out of proportion.

    Could not have said it better myself. Democracy will either moderate the party or punish it for its failure to do so.

    This is not entirely true. Politics affecting everyday life are increasingly determined at local and regional level, even more so in a vast nation like Indonesia where the central government is weak. At the national elections Islamic parties have never gained many seats compared to the big shots Golkar and PDI-P yet we have witnessed several regencies going sharia-bound and severely affecting life of locals there, including discriminating against non-Muslims. Majority votes for secular parties at national level don’t make much difference. Adding to this there is a lack of feeling and value of a national identity, culture and pride with the current leadership and politicians. The Orde Baru military may have been corrupt but to a certain extent was loyal to the State of Indonesia whereas the current democratic elected politicians are only loyal to their pockets and to those of their business friends and partners. No wonder people become aloof of what’s happening in the ivory tower called the DPR/MPR in far away Jakarta. They turn their attention to local politics and local politicians are quick to play on the feeling of discontent by displaying strong measures such as implementing sharia bylaws because Jakarta is weak, absent, far away and not interested.

  15. avatar Teng says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Could not have said it better myself. Democracy will either moderate the party or punish it for its failure to do so.

    Although these are wise words and certainly true for most mature democracies, history has also shown otherwise.

    There have been cases of parties using democracy to get into power and once into power totally destroyed it from within.

    Like Lairedion said, the influence of Jakarta gets less and less. The central government is starting to get extremely weak. I consider it a ‘natural’ reaction to the extremely dominant and controlling central government of the Soekarno and even more the Suharto era. After that decentralization was allowed out of a fear of loss of the kesatuan.
    However I do have the feeling the central government is really starting to lose its grip.

    You can say: “Hey… it’s what the majority wants”… but that’s not a true democracy. A true democracy follows the majority with respect of the opinion and protection of the position of the minority.

  16. avatar Rambutan says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 10:25 am

    we have witnessed several regencies going sharia-bound and severely affecting life of locals there, including discriminating against non-Muslims.

    So far only Aceh has the right to apply syariah law – largely for historic reasons. Interesting to note that it was offered by the Gus Dur government as an effort to appease the rebellious Acehnese (a grand miscalculation since GAM was never interested in establishing an Islamic Aceh. They are basically nationalists).
    Saying several regions are going syariah-bound is simply wrong. No province or kabupaten officially applies syariah law. Several kabupaten have introduced by-laws which might be considered as syariah-inspired. However, in 2007 not a single new syariah-inspired by-law was passed. So it appears that this trend is actually diminishing.
    I also believe that voting behavior on national level is not far different from local level. If you look at the 2004 results, people voted more or less the same for DPR, DPRD propinsi and DPRD kabupaten.
    Now, I don’t want to deny that there are people trying to push their conservative agenda. In some regions they might even be quite successful. We have to oppose this trend and prevent Indonesia from actually going backwards. But in order to do so we need a clear picture what is happening and refrain from generalisations and oversimplifications.

  17. avatar djoko says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Rambutan’s on the money again

    Fact is that areas which have actually brought in ‘syariah-inspired’ or otherwise full blown ‘perda syariat’ laws are usually led by politicians supported by secular parties. As noted, syariah in Aceh is presided over by the Acehnese nationalist GAM. The Mayor of Tangerang (surely people remember the hoo-hah over that wrongful arrest of that lady for prostitution) is a Golkar cadre, Wahidin Halim. Secular parties, and Golkar in particular dominate not just at the national level, but at the local level too.

    People are right to be concerned with the application of laws like this, though if secular parties are applying them it seems to be less part of efforts to establish mini Islamic states all over the place and more a case of local politicians picking on easy targets (prostitution, dress codes, etc) in order to show the public they are ‘doing something’ in order to get re-elected.

  18. avatar Murphy says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    @Rambutan

    I agree with you. Some people simply mix-up moral-based bylaws and syariah law. Those two are not necessarily the same. Some local politicians thought that they can get more votes in future elections if they were seen as the upholders of the community values. Thus the notorious Tangerang regency bylaws or today’s Batu regent’s idea (BBC, CNN, and Singapore’s Straits Times surely will have their field day today :-)).

    They can’t be 100% blamed for that kind of thinking. Indonesians are not staunch secularist like the Europeans. They still expect their politicians to do something with the “declining morals of the society”. The politicians were only responding to that kind of reality.

    But no self-respecting candidates will campaign on the platform of converting their regency into a mini Aceh. It’s proven unpopular and more likely illegal, too. Only the imbeciles in the HTI are advocating that idea; and they are not contesting for any political positions.

    That is not to say that there are no localities issuing syariah-inspired bylaws. The 2006 Bulukumba bylaws on caning is simply hilarious. But let that be the pet case for foreign media. I think Indonesians, like other decent democracies, tend to look for candidates who will not pocket the state budget and capable of fixing their dilapidated roads, schools and hospitals. Syariah law is very low in their priority list.

  19. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 4th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    In a “decent democracy” the Constitution and Law should moderate political parties, not 4-yearly elections, local, regional or national.

    A secular Constitution protecting individual liberties and the rights of minorities in society, such as freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, the right to private property and privacy, as well as equality before the law and due process under the rule of law, and many more so that it places constraints on elected representatives exercising decision-making power on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the rights of minorities. Within these boundaries democracy can operate.

    Unmoderated majority as a result of elections could lead to an oppression of minorities.

    That’s my personal view guys. Thanks for sharing yours. I don’t think the difference lies between Western and Indonesian way of thinking but in a proper Constitution and Law and a government really enforcing them.

  20. avatar HItam TApi CIna says:
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    This is really sad to hear how you people depend on this one smart lady.

    A few things:
    1. this is the biggest problem: intellectuals like you all still using the old and failed paradigm. Never ever trust any indivual especially when she or he is in power because human makes mistakes. History speaks for itself. That is why the French made democracy.

    A decent system which is audited and perfected regularly is what Indonesia need to come out of its poverty and corruption.

    That’s what’s making the west prosperous while Indonesia plunged to poverty. None of our leaders, men or women has ever succesfully made this country prosperous. And as long as intellectuals are still thinking like you all think then doom and gloom is where Indonesia is heading.

    2. It’s not about sex, it’s not about who is smarter but who is honest, humble and cares more about what the people need. Indonesia has many smart politicians and government officials but they are full of greed and once in power they forget what they promised during their campaign. It doesn’t take a professor to know what people want. Good education, Jobs , good but affordable health service and a full stomach for everyone.

    3. The good news is, you all can change and make the system you want, just change the parliament and the government. If they can’t deliver any results, find another person who can. Let’s make the next election as a mean to educate the poor and uneducated indonesian to be politically smart.

    For those who think women are not suitable to run as a leader, they are no better than the Taliban in Afganistan – a disgrace to human civilization.

  21. avatar yanti says:
    April 27th, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Hmm I like seeing a smart muslimah like Mrs Kofifah… But.. muslimah beeing leader.
    Sorry… but as I know.. Allah always put everything in the right posision… So.. Allah never give that heavy job.. beeing leader for muslimah… so… muslimah shouldn’t beeing a leader.

    If you don’t mind pls open Dari Hari Kartini.. tentang Pemimpin Perempuan
    I put my opinion there…

    Jazakumullah kh kn

  22. avatar sheikh says:
    December 20th, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Yeah yeah. We should not be sexist. No gender discrimination. We should then allow women to be the Imam for friday prayers. Even further, we should allow and appoint a women to be the Grand Imam of masjidil haram. So we could all be dammed faster.



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