H.E. Agung Ladsono Former Speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia to “PUIC”:

*PUIC to voice our Aspirations to Global Community
*Involving Executives in PUIC Global Community
*Economic, Social and Cultural Sanctions to Isolate Israel
PUIC Bulletin No.4 Winter 2010

Indonesian SpeakerCongratulations to the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC) for its tenth Anniversary! During the ten-year period, the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries has dealt with various issues, starting from the issues in the Middle East, the home of millions of Muslims and Islamic heritage and symbols, to the issues dealing with Muslims in Pattaya, Yala and Narathiwat in  Southern Thailand, and Uighur Xinjiang in China.

Multilateralism in international politics has displayed challenges and opportunities for any Muslim nations. Therefore, Muslim nations must cooperate and work together in order to take advantages in today’s global realities, to manage the challenging developments, both in Muslim countries and outside of the Muslim communities, as well as, to avoid any disaster that may take place owing to the political and economic developments on the global stage. In that regards, the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC) can play more important role in the world’s stage as it has strategic positions that is different from the Western-dominated global power.

As the Western-dominated global power, represented largely by the United States of America, had expressed its willingness to listen and learn from representatives of Muslim states, as well as to share views and values, it is indeed a better time to renew the relations between Muslim and the US. Furthermore, the new President of the US, Barack Obama has stated his commitment to make American amends with the Islamic world after eight years of tension, and to make partnership with the Muslim world. The world is now looking forward to a new beginning in US – Muslim relations.

Looking back to the history of establishment of PUIC in 1999, in which we have shared the commitment to introduce and disseminate the noble principles of Islam, some progresses have been made to the date, and many more are waiting for implementation. Therefore, PUIC has to work hard to fulfill that commitment and strive for implementation of pending matters. PUIC, as the organization that had successfully uniting parliaments from Muslim nations, vis-a-vis uniting the Muslim Ummah to serve their common political, economic, and social interests should continue to voice our aspirations to the global community. In addition, now is the high time for the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC) to empower PUIC organization in all of its aspects so as to meet the rising challenges, both within the Muslim countries and outside of the Muslim countries. I, therefore, welcome the efforts to strengthen PUIC through developing its Statutes.

Indonesia has almost 86.1 percent of Indonesians declared Muslim. Muslims in Indonesia have been practicing Islam in moderate way for a long time. A strong guarantee in practicing religion for all religious followers has been stipulated in the Constitution, since it is one of the fundamental and basic human rights that we, as Muslims, are mandatory to respect, as the Qur’an also mentioned the same thing (Surah 2:256, 10 : 99).

Indonesia is also a pluralistic and multicultural society which consists of various ethnics, religions and indigenous cultures. Indonesia’s experience in managing those diversities through dialogue have made Indonesia to be acknowledged as having  strategic roles in giving aspiration for other nations in terms of peace and harmony amid the differences.
As the third largest democracy in the world, Indonesia has also been an example on how religious perspectives and democracy could blend in harmony. Apart from that, Indonesia has also been very active in various international events and organizations, both on the level of executive branch and legislative branch of government. Through PUIC, Indonesia wishes to take an active position for the development of Muslim ummah.

PUIC: Challenges Ahead

Learning from other parliamentary organizations, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), PUIC needs to establish effective and strong communication and relations with the executive counterparts, such as the United Nations, respective governments of PUIC Member Countries, etc. The effective and strong communication will support the effective transfer of ideas, suggestions, and recommendation to those staying in executive branch of government. Various efforts to involve executives in the official meetings of PUIC are vital, in the sense that executive branch of government needs to learn and monitor the real-time aspirations of members of parliaments of PUIC, so that the executives will clearly and comprehensively understand the problems and challenges that become the agenda of the meetings.

Having said that and being concerned with the effectiveness of various resolutions of PUIC, particularly dealing with the issue of Arab-Israeli conflict, PUIC has to intensify communication among the Member Parliaments so as to step up to the unified bargaining position, vis-à-vis Israeli government, to demand Israel to stop its aggression and occupation in Palestine territory. PUIC should have been united in giving pressures to Israel in the form of economic sanctions, closure of entry-points into and out of Israel, sanctions of social and cultural isolation over Israel, and others; besides providing sufficient assistance in various forms to Palestinians. This concrete mechanism will help PUIC and Muslim Ummah to be in the strong bargaining position vis-à-vis US-supported Israel.

In terms of organizational matters, organizational re-empowering is essential since it deals with various important organizational issues, such as effective and sufficient financial contributions, effective resolutions to address complex and various issues in the Muslim Ummah, not only those taking place in the Middle East region, but also those occurrences in other parts of the world. In addition, Asia, as the new economic power and home to the million of Muslims, deserved a well-balance attention from PUIC in its agenda of the meetings as well as in its resolutions.

Further, the concerns of PUIC must not concentrated only on traditional issues such as military conflicts and armed struggles but also on non-traditional issues, such as poverty, literacy, pandemic diseases, natural disasters, food security, energy crisis and skilled workers. PUIC must opening up its eyes toward the reality that in 36 out of 57 OIC member states, poverty are still in existence with the rate ranges between 20 to 60 percent.

Among those poor, women constitute as the majority. Being poor, many women in Muslim countries have also been experiencing illiteracy and limitation in various aspects of life, including to the sufficient access to political decision making process (executive, legislative, judiciary, etc.), education, employment, and others. It is a crystal-clear that Muslim countries are still having complex homeworks to do, apart from their participation in today’s world stage.

In addition, women in Muslim nations are often depicted by the westerners as suffering from the imbalance in power relations between the sexes in Islam. Most images of Muslim women, both literal and imagined, seem to be met with outrage, indignation and pity by non Muslims. Honour killings, hijab, arranged marriages are some of the issues that are often viewed with stigma. Therefore, the challenge for PUIC is on providing logic justification and on making the world seeing the real conditions of women in Muslim nations that is nowhere near those stigmas.

The multilateralism in the world’s today is unavoidable, as peoples and nations rise and strive for equality in civilization. The Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC) has to take a lead in voicing and struggling for the aspirations of Muslim people, living together harmoniously with other non-Muslim peoples, aspiring not only those coming from the Middle East region, but also that of other Muslim areas. Therefore, the members of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) need to find effective ways / mechanisms, probably as mentioned above, to make the PUIC resolutions effective and respected by all related parties. The future of Muslim Ummah is also in the hands of PUIC.