28 October 2018
INDONESIAN ULAMA, or religious scholar, Ma’ruf Amin’s speech in Singapore last week was awaited with some anticipation.
He came with the reputation of having played a key role in the massive movement that brought down the controversial Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, over accusations of blasphemy against Islam. This in itself had given Ma’ruf Amin a certain image of being a “conservative”. However, the posture that he struck in Singapore was, well, not exactly this. If anything the prospect of being a national leader, beyond just the Muslim majority community, may be pushing him to become more centrist.
Kyai Ma’ruf Amin, as he is referred to respectfully as an ulama, is now a vice-presidential running mate for incumbent President Joko Widodo in next year’s pilpres, or presidential election.
While not really seen as an ideal pairing, the coming together of the duo is significant. It reflects the traditional symbiosis of the two main streams of Indonesian politics – nationalism as embodied in Jokowi, as the president is known colloquially, and Islam, in Ma’ruf Amin.
But who really is Ma’ruf Amin? What are his thoughts? How would he face an international audience? Needless to say, his speech at the lecture organised by the Singapore-based think-tank RSIS (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies), was followed closely for a measure of the man who is, after all, within earshot of being Indonesia’s No 2 leader.
… Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 29/10/2018