Partai Damai Sejahtera, PDS

Apr 25th, 2006, in News, by

The Partai Damai Sejahtera, PDS, says that they do not want to be viewed as a religious party.

Denny Tewu, the secretary general of the PDS, the Prosperous Peace Party, says the party is based in Christian values but prefers to be viewed as a nationalist group.

We want to appear as a nationalist party that is based in religious values but is not a party of religion.
(Kami ingin tampil sebagai partai nasionalis berdasarkan nilai-nilai keagamaan, bukan partai agama.)

The conference, which is due to occur between 23 and 26 May, is to be held in the North Sulawesi capital of Manado and is to be opened, oddly enough, by the vice president, Jusuf Kalla, an Islamist from the Golkar party. Denny also said that the controversial law on houses of worship and the spate of forced church closings would be important items on the general meeting’s agenda.

The PDS gains most of its support in areas where there is a sharp division between Muslims and Christians, such as Ambon and central Sulawesi, and in these places it generally goes head to head with the radical Islamic party, PKS. It also has respectable support in Jakarta where it garnered 5% in the 2004 election. It draws votes mainly from Protestants and evangelicals whereas Catholics tend to plump for the PDI-P, of Megawati.

May 25th 2006. News from the Prosperous Peace Party’s conference in Jakarta.

The PDS, Partai Damai Sejahtera, is a Protestant party with 13 seats in the national parliament. Their annual conference was opened by vice president Jusuf Kalla who attempted to deal with some of the concerns of the PDS members over the perceived Islamicization of the country.

The chairman of the PDS, Ruyandi Hutasoit, voiced his concerns over restrictions on the building of churches, and on attacks on existing churches in areas such as Bekasi, near Jakarta, and on the drift in the country away from the founding principles of “Unity in Diversity”, Pancasila, and the 1945 constitution. He said that in 1945 all the leading Islamic groups had agreed not to insert the seven words which would have imposed sharia on Muslims. The fathers of the nation had therefore explicitly rejected sharia as the basis for the state and had allowed for the existence of differences in the country to be seen as a source of strength.

On matters of freedom of worship Ruyandi said:

Whatever laws exist make sure they don’t prevent us from practising our faith. We’ve seen that is harder to [get permission to] build a place of worship than it is to build a place of entertainment.
(Peraturan seperti apapun yang jelas jangan menghalangi kami beribadah. Kami selama ini melihat membangun tempat ibadah lebih sulit dibanding membangun tempat-tempat hiburan.)

Ruyandi went on:

We ask the government that the law on houses of worship not prevent a religious community from worshipping. In Cilegon for example it is impossible to build even one church. Even for celebrating Easter.
(Kami meminta kepada pemerintah tiga hal, agar aturan SKB Menteri Agama dan Menteri Dalam Negeri dalam bentuk apapun, jangan sampai menghalangi umat beribadah. Di Cilegon sebagai contoh, di sana tidak boleh ada satupun gereja berdiri. Bahkan untuk merayakan Paskah sekali pun.)

He said that if church building was not permitted then the government should allow Christians to make use of existing buildings. If this were not possible them the use of places of residence for worship activities should be permissible.

Jusuf Kalla, who is known to support the imposition of some aspects of Islamic law, at first waffled:

Religious laws don’t need to be fought over/create conflict. We all live according to our own religious laws and respect others.
(Jadi syariat (agama) tidak perlu dipertentangkan. Sebenarnya kita semua telah menjalankan syariat (masing-masing) dengan saling menghormati sudah berlangsung lama.)

However Kalla did manage to bring some humour to the question, in claiming that the sharia problem was simply one of misunderstanding on the part of many people as to what sharia actually was:

In my religion there is the saying “fear God”. In your religion there is certain to be the same thing. If there are laws promulgated by mayors that require people to be religious then the saying should be changed to “Fear the mayor”.
(Dalam agama saya ada ayat berbunyi “takutlah pada Allah”. Dalam agama anda pasti ada juga. Kalau ada aturan bupati untuk beribadah, maka ayat itu harus juga diubah bunyinya menjadi “takutlah pada bupati”)

Kalla said that sharia had been practised in Indonesia for centuries already and consisted, in reality, of three areas only, aqidah (belief/faith), ibadah (prayer, fasting, alms, and the Hajj), and muamalah (regulations like rules for marriage). Many Muslims, he said, did not really understand sharia – true sharia did not disturb the practise of other faiths.

In the 2004 elections the PDS managed to win 2.13% of the vote. If they are to continue to have a presence in the national parliament after the 2009 elections they will need to garner at least 3.5%, this being the new threshold for parties to gain seats in parliament. Towards this end the PDS reaffirmed their earlier intention to position themselves more as a nationalist party, rather than simply a Christian one. They are unlikely to be successful in holding on to party status after 2009 and this will likely see the PDI-P of Megawati pick up much of their support.

2 Comments on “Partai Damai Sejahtera, PDS”

  1. Masindi says:

    I’d say “ban every political party that is based on religion”. It never makes a good sense when politics is mixed with religion.

    And why do you have to quote Kalla’s words? His words are meaningless.

  2. Avy Loftus says:

    Dear Mr/Ms. Patung,

    I would like to get the Prosperous Peace Party’s address and e-mail address please.Thanks.

    Sincerely yours,
    A. Loftus

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