The Indonesian government should strengthen its civil society to prevent the country from experiencing democratic setback many nations around the globe have been seeing, experts said in a discussion on Saturday.
Muhammad Syauqillah, University of Indonesia expert on Islam and Middle Eastern politics, said a strong civil society did not just provide greater extent of check of balances in the government, it also helped with tackling the spread of radical and extreme ideology, which is seen as an equally dangerous threat for democracy.
Indonesia should be aware of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East as they could be a starting point from where radical ideology is spread in Indonesia, Syaqillah said, citing, for example, the fact that Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian terrorist leader who reportedly died in Syria last year, could get followers by using the rhetoric of fighting the "infidels" in Syria.
"Indonesia is much affected by political constelation in the Middle East," Syauqillah said in a discussion held by Insight Indonesia in Inisiatif Coffe, South Jakarta (10/2/2018). Syauqillah said the government could support the spread of Indonesian Islam among the Muslim community in the country. Indonesian Islam, he said, is tolerant in nature in comparison to a stricter type of Islam developed from the Middle East.
A strong civil society also can help pushing the military into the barrack, said Muhammad Sya'roni Rofii, a political science lecturer at Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University in Jakarta. Military intervening in politics has been blamed for democratic setback in many countries including in neighboring Thailand. Sya'roni cited Turkey as an example where a strong civil society could prevent a military coup d'etat attempt in 2016. "All elements of society: religious, liberals and even opposition got to the street to oppose the military coup," he said.
Meanwhile, Ali Rif'an, director of Monitor Indonesia, said the Indonesian government should be able to take lessons from events in other countries such as one in Turkey.