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Viewpoints of Prominent PKS Parliamentarians on the Future Development of PKS in Indonesia
May 19, 2012 by Dr. Farish A. Noor
Q. How does this make PKS different from other Islamic parties then
FH: Well like I said we do not think that the state is magical or that once we win the state we can cure all of society’s ills. Some of the Islamist movements today seem to think that the state is the cure for all ills. Others seem to think that it is the state that is the root of all their problems, so we hear Islamists say naïve and silly things like ‘Zina (adultery) is getting worse because the state is not doing anything.’ Surely this is an absurd conclusion to make: It is not a weak state that causes adultery, or any other social problem.
That’s why I again say that talk about ‘Islamic states’ is often more confusing than helpful: When it is over-simplified like that it is even dangerous. The evil, so to speak, is in the detail, and not the structure. Social ills are not always the result of the state.
Q. So what is it that you are aiming for, and what are you not aiming for?
FH: Specifically, we reject the empty symbolism of religious politics. As everyone knows, we are not apologetic for being an Islamist party and have never hidden that fact. But what complicates matters is when people outside PKS think we simply want an ‘Islamic state’ as they understand it, not the way we understand it.
Like I said, for us (PKS) the state is simply that: a tool and a resource. There is no way one can ‘Islamise’ a tool or a resource. So we are not bothered about the symbols of religiosity as they have nothing to do with what we are trying to achieve.
Q. And you believe the PKS cadre system can deliver that?
FH: Yes, because as I said it lays emphasis on the individual above all. We are training our members to think as individuals who know what they are doing and why. Like I said, in the end its all about individual responsibility, whether it comes to dealing with the media or even our opponents like HTI, FPI, etc.
For a movement like PKS to succeed, we must build the cadre core first, because that it what will take us to the next level. Look at Erdogan in Turkey. How could he come to power in Turkey for three terms without the support of his cadres. It is the cadre base that lays the groundwork for the party to succeed. But this also means you need cadres who will stick to the course and not be persuaded by any other kind of rhetoric or symbolic politics. Erdogan built his base on the cadre system, and so have we in PKS: We began on the fringes and have now moved to the mainstream and entered politics. Groups that don’t like that may say we have gone off the path, but that is irrelevant to us for reasons I’ve explained earlier.
Now what PKS has to do is expand this cadre base, but also show tangible results in terms of better governance, accountability, transparency, etc. We must show real results to the Indonesian public, because that will be our testimonial. PKS needs that testimonial not only for its image, but also to show to the cadres that the work has paid off, and that yes, the PKS is a different party from all the others.
Q. And the challenge of dealing with your detractors?
FH: The radical groups you mentioned are no challenge to us, for our cadre system keeps us solid. But the real challenge is to speak with and to the liberals in Indonesia, for they are the ones who have the dominance over the media and they control the terms of the mainstream political discourse. Engaging with the urban liberal intelligentsia is, for us, a bigger and more important challenge than dealing with anti-state and anti-political radical Islamist fringe groups; who cannot harm us in the long run.