Draft PKUB Presidential Decree, Step Forward or Stand in Place?
The PKUB Presidential Decree has proposed many changes that can advance religious harmony in Indonesia, but there are several aspects that are confusing and require further explanation.
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The following article was translated using both Microsoft Azure Open AI and Google Translation AI. The original article can be found in Rancangan Perpres PKUB, Langkah Maju atau Jalan di Tempat?
On July 9 2018, Kompas published the author's article, entitled ”Religious Majoritarianism”, which criticized the Religious Harmony Forum institution. Now, five years after this article was published, efforts to reorganize this institution are underway. This can be seen in the draft Presidential Regulation on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony which is currently widely circulating in society.
In this draft, the government seeks to reorganize the Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) institution and the procedures permitting the establishment of places of worship which were previously regulated in Joint Regulation of the Minister of Religion and the Minister of Home Affairs in 2006. After reading the draft Maintenance of Religious Harmony (PKUB) in 2023, the author is optimistic that the government is on the right track.
However, there are several things that still remain a question due to the incompleteness of the given explanation. In addition, there are several parts that seem unchanged, especially from the perspective of the approach taken by the state in seeing places of worship.
In addition to the establishment of the national level FKUB, there are at least two major changes that demonstrate the government's progressive steps in managing religious communities. Firstly, changes in membership that consider proportional aspects. Secondly, changes to the tasks and authorities of the FKUB in managing interfaith harmony.
The 2023 PKUB Draft Presidential Decree regulates the representation of women at every level of FKUB. In the previous regulations, FKUB did not regulate women's representation. So, it is not surprising that it is very difficult to find female FKUB members throughout Indonesia. In fact, there are so many cases of religious conflict in society that involve women as victims.
Changes have also been made in terms of the approach to selecting members, which is no longer based on the comparison of the number of religious followers and has shifted towards a proportional approach. This is a proactive step to prevent the domination of certain religions in this forum.
Regarding the authority of FKUB, the draft presidential regulation of 2023 no longer mandates FKUB to issue permits for the establishment of places of worship.
The future Presidential Regulation on the FKUB (Interreligious Harmony Forum) will also regulate in detail the process of members' submission and termination. Previously, this process was highly politicized due to the strong influence of regional heads in determining FKUB members. Now, the submission of new members must first obtain a recommendation from a religious organization.
Regarding FKUB's authority, the 2023 draft presidential regulation no longer mandates FKUB to issue permits to establish places of worship. In the future, permission to establish a place of worship only requires a recommendation from the Ministry of Religion. This is a good step because research reports show the influence of FKUB in conflicts over places of worship in the regions.
Despite the fact that the Presidential Decree on the Unified Committee for Interfaith Harmony (PKUB) has proposed many changes that can advance religious harmony in Indonesia, there are still some aspects that are confusing and require further explanation. One of the things that is still being questioned is the position of regional leaders in the FKUB.
If in the 2006 regulations it was arranged regarding the FKUB supervisory board formed by local government heads. In the currently being prepared regulations, there is no longer a supervisory board structure. This raises the question about the active role of local government heads in the new FKUB. Do they still have the authority to "guide" the FKUB? Or does the FKUB become independent and free from the interests of local government heads? Although it takes more time to know about this, clarity regarding this matter is very necessary.
Also Read: Interfaith and Interfaith Gathering
Then, another confusing issue is the requirement for a recommendation from a religious organization to become a member of FKUB. Although Presidential Regulation on FKUB in 2023 has explained the meaning of a religious organization, there are no detailed limitations on which religious organization can give a recommendation. What criteria are used to determine which organization qualifies to give recommendations? This ambiguity may open the door for manipulation and potential conflicts. Thus, a more detailed and transparent explanation regarding these requirements is highly essential.
Ambiguity was also found in Article 23 of the Draft Presidential Regulation on Places of Worship Construction, which describes three types of requirements: specific requirements, administrative requirements, and building requirements. Only specific requirements are explained in detail, while the other two requirements do not receive the same explanation. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty in the process of establishing a place of worship.
There are still several aspects in the draft of the Presidential Regulation on Public Worship which appear to remain unchanged from the previous approach, especially in the regulation of houses of worship permits. For example, the paradigm of harmony and order is still being used to solve religious problems.
For example, Article 27 (2), which permits the temporary use of places of worship while taking into consideration the peace and order of the surrounding community. Although it is important to ensure the peace and order of the surrounding community, the issuance of permits should be based more on the principles of human rights than on the consideration of order alone. According to the author, the use of a harmony and order approach has the potential to limit the freedom of religion for individuals and groups.
The requirement for the number of members to remain at 90 and 60 locals for the permit process should also be questioned. This requirement can be a barrier for small or minority groups who want to establish a place of worship. This creates inequality in the treatment of various religious groups.
In addition, this could also potentially serve as a tool for the majority group to hinder minority groups in establishing their places of worship. There have been so many cases of religious rights violations that have occurred due to the use of this approach as a requirement for the construction of places of worship.
The draft of the Presidential Regulation on Broadband Development and Utilization in 2023 also has not touched on the belief in the Almighty God.
In addition to problematic regulations that still remain in place, the draft of the 2023 Presidential Regulation on Religious Harmony (PKUB) also does not address the belief in the One Almighty God. It is regrettable that faith groups have not yet found their place in Indonesian religious harmony policies. Although structurally and institutionally, belief in the One Almighty God is not equated with religion, empirically there are many cases of religious conflicts involving groups of believers.
One of the most pressing issues is that the government needs to provide protection for the right to establish places of worship and carry out religious rituals for followers of certain beliefs. The draft regulation of PKUB must be in line with the government's efforts to conduct recognition politics towards indigenous communities.
Switch to function requirements
To ensure a balance between harmony and religious rights can be achieved, the writer proposes functional requirements in granting permits for the establishment of places of worship. These functional requirements replace the membership quota requirement currently used by the government.
There are at least two types of requirements for this function. First, operational requirements that can be seen from the usefulness of a place of worship for religious adherents. Second, spatial requirements that can be adjusted to the spatial concept in a particular area.
On the first condition, permission for places of worship is granted based on the need to perform religious worship by its followers. Therefore, it is no longer determined by the number of users, which has been practiced in the past, with a limit of 90 people.
The government can consider establishing places of worship due to the need of religious believers to establish them in that particular area. For instance, this need arises when there are no other places of worship accessible to them. Although the Draft Presidential Regulation on Places of Worship has already regulated temporary houses of worship, it is very difficult to put into practice, as it requires the support of the surrounding community.
Currently, there are many places of worship being built without considering good spatial planning. By taking this into consideration, the government can regulate the number of places of worship in one area.
Currently, there are many places of worship where the users come from the same religious teachings built in close proximity to each other. However, from a utility standpoint, there is no need for new places of worship in the same area. The government can evaluate places of worship that no longer have users and recommend for them to be closed if necessary.