I was forwarded this article from Indonesia’s Jakarta Post. It shows the new speaker of the legislative council of North Sulawesi was taking his oath on Kung-tze’s (Confucious) Sishu Wujing (四书五经, Four Books, Five Scriptures). My friend was trying to say that Indonesians are now liberal and tolerant.
I had the opportunity to be actively involved in the launching and running of two businesses (Shipping and Oil Palm Plantations) there between 2005 and 2010 (not to mention that my son-in-law is also an Indonesian, albeit principally of Chinese descent). The role required me to visit many parts of Indonesia. I must say indeed Indonesia has gone a long way and is now largely a very progressive country as far as religion and race relations are concerned. But this fact remains: mentality on religion and race is still very much parochial in nature. Like a dormant volcano, intolerance can erupt if the magma chamber is disturbed. And there are quite a number of magma chambers in Indonesia!
Indonesia is a big country. Its geography of 17,000 islands is mind-boggling and population of more than 250 million is ethnically and linguistically diverse (something 300 and 750 respectively).
I personally am of the opinion that at higher political levels, one should not try to accentuate his cultural identity. Moreover, Confucianism can hardly be said to be a religion. (The greatness of its philosophy is really another matter.) Wouldn’t the country’s Constitution be a more appropriate instrument for this new speaker to swear his allegiance on? (Has anyone heard of such a swearing-in ceremony in China, or Korea, or Japan, or Taiwan, where Kung-tze’s teachings are more “universally” revered?)