Fatwa MUI

Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) baru saja mengeluarkan fatwa yang menyatakan bahwa merokok itu hukumnya haram bagi anak-anak, wanita hamil, dan di tempat umum.

Menurut saya fatwa ini cukup fair karena MUI jelas masih memperhatikan dan mempertimbangkan faktor ekonomi, sosial, budaya, politik dan lain-lain. Oleh karena itu, muslim yang baik tentu saja harus mematuhi fatwa ini. Kan yang haram kalau ngerokoknya  di tempat umum. He..he..

Fatwa haram untuk Golput, awalnya saya menduga agak bermuatan politis. Tapi, setelah dipikir-pikir sepertinya inilah cara ulama memberikan sumbangsihnya untuk peningkatan demokrasi di Indonesia. Kan kalau Golput ga haram, terus yang memilih pemimpin cuma 20% pemilih, dan pemenangnya memperoleh 50% + 1, maka ga lucu kalau negara dipimpin oleh orang yang memiliki legalitas rendah.

Education legal entity bill

Teuku Kemal Fasya ,  LHOKSEUMAWE   |  Sat, 01/17/2009 5:28 PM  |  Opinion

The endorsement of the new national education legal entity bill by the central government and the legislators from the House of the Representatives is premature. The new bill is still contentious, controversial and marred by public protests, while public input and stakeholder consultations have been limited.

The endorsement of this bill is a tragedy for national education in Indonesia. The statement by National Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo that those who oppose the endorsement of the new bill on education do not understand the bill itself (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 23, 2008) is arrogant. The government as well as the legislators have a limited, monolithic interpretation of the bill.

It is important to review this bill seriously. Citizens of this country have to participate actively to address their concerns. There must be a way to do this – to depend only on the monolithic role of the legislators and the government is inadequate. It is also important to note that the members of the House as well as those in the government are usually members of the middle- to upper-class in Indonesia; no wonder they often do not know what the rest of the people really need. The education legal entity bill sides with the rich but not the poor.

An important duty of a modern state through its government is to make sure that all citizens — regardless of their economic standing, race, religion, gender or ethnicity — have the right to universal, accessible education. The education legal entity bill reduces the role of the government to merely a facilitator or owner of the capital.

According to the new bill, the government is going to continue financially supporting state schools. However, education is not just a matter of budgeting, but also a matter of human rights. The state should protect this fundamental right of the citizen and ensure that the educational system and budget are being implemented correctly.

What, then, is the responsibility of the central government to the people throughout this archipelago? It is to serve not only the rich but also the poor, whose numbers are increasing.

Article 9.4 of the bill places the government in line with becoming a for-profit business. At this point, there are stipulations for mergers and dissolutions, its financial management, strategies to prevent bankruptcy and how to save an educational entity in bankruptcy. This approach shows two simultaneous functions: first, academic and nonacademic management, and second, marketing.

In practice, the function of education is often against the interests of business. The main goal of business is to maximize profits. Teachers become powerless as they can be hired and fired easily, similar to laborers at factories. The local government acts as a business owner by having to invest its capital in education.

The government has already surrendered the fate and the future direction of education in this country to the wrong hands. Education now has to obey the demands of business and its goals which are often against humanity.

Unlike the concepts implemented through the state legal entity bill (PT BHMN) for some elite state universities such as the University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and Gadjah Mada University (UGM), the new education legal entity bill is being endorsed without strict standards in educational quality. This therefore becomes like a wolf in sheep’s clothing for the people, especially those from low-income families who still constitute a majority in this country.

We do need to follow up with the Indonesian Independent Teachers’ Federation’s (FGII) demand for a judicial review of this new bill to ensure that education in this country is not going to become merely profit oriented. This bill is already against our national Constitution, for example, as Article 31 states Indonesian citizens have the right to accessible and affordable education. The state itself also has to allocate 20 percent of the national budget to education.

It is the responsibility and moral duty of the government to ensure not only education for all but also education of a high quality.

The writer is a lecturer at the anthropological department, University of Malikussaleh, Lhokseumawe, Nanggroe Aceh Darusalam.

New education bill: A blank check?

Bambang Soemarwoto ,  AMSTERDAM   |  Sat, 01/17/2009 5:25 PM  |  Opinion

Many suspect that to a large extent the students (parents) will have to share this burden through higher tuition fees. One of the significant debates surrounding the new bill relates to two opposite views toward this burden.

The government sees the one-third proportion as a limit that cannot be exceeded by the institution in charging fees, thus ensuring fraud will not occur. Along with the rule stating that at least 20 percent of an institution’s enrollment must be from the economically underprivileged, the government claims that justice is maintained.

On the other hand, critics say that these tuition fees will predetermine that a significant percentage of the country’s academically eligible candidates will unfairly be prevented from following a higher education. In turn, the nation will risk eliminating bright potential students who would otherwise be able to lead the nation toward a better future.

Let’s assume that being a country with an exceptionally low education budget is a given condition. The above arguments from both the government and the critics are relevant, as higher education will continue to exist. Sadly though, the country’s higher education institutions would then continue to operate as they have been operating throughout the past decades — inadequately. So what is missing in the debates?

The debates have failed to address a standard for a decent operational budget. Ask university academics about the electricity, water, floor space, internet bandwidth, computers, lab equipment and consumables, library collection or the campus infrastructure they need to adequately conduct their day-to-day academic and scientific tasks.

Ask them how many students they need to have in a specific field of study. Ask them how much, and in what way, they should earn a decent standard of living.

Ask the same questions to government officials at the Education Ministry. One should not be surprised with the large variety of answers from each individual, reflecting a situation with no consensus, no standard.

A decent budget should be the result of detailed calculations, in terms of infrastructure and resources, including academics as human resources, which constitute a decent higher education. It must be expressed in hard figures which reflect the challenges Indonesia faces. Of course, the figures will vary due to different local conditions in the different regions.

Let us forget jargons such as “World Class University”,University” and “Entrepreneur University”. Let’s also ignore the rankings of world universities by the Times, Webometrics and Shanghai Jiao Tong.

Indonesia’s higher education institutions should first focus on clearly defining a standard of a decent operational budget which will enable the academics to scientifically address various problems in Indonesia. In any field of study, there should be more than enough scientific challenges originating from Indonesian local conditions.

If these are dealt with following sound academic and scientific principles, these institutions will build a world reputation without having to look over their shoulders.

A decent operational budget, although appearing to be unrealistic now, will allow one to determine a budget deficit. One may then imagine various ways to cover the deficit.

For example, the population of about 80 state universities with about 60.000 teaching and 40.000 nonteaching staff members constitutes a large customer base for a commercial provider. Collective agreements can be signed with various providers to reduce the cost for a decent standard of living.

An adequate operational budget will also allow one to determine a reasonable institutional fee. The fee specification may range from man-hours to scientific use of the campus facility. As it has been rigorously determined by means of well-founded calculations, the institutional fee is easily defendable in any negotiation with foreign parties.

Because of its unique geographical characteristics, Indonesia will remain an attractive field of research by foreign institutions. Indonesian scientists would then be able to conduct research in collaboration with their foreign colleagues on equal terms, scientifically and financially.

As a business incubator for an innovative product and using a decent operational budget, the institution will also be able to provide an essential contribution to a sound business plan. The business plan will appear credible in front of potential venture investors.

Last but not least, the standard for a decent operational budget will serve as a reference, allowing one to measure the current status of higher education in Indonesia. Without it, the two-thirds/one-third distribution stated in the bill is meaningless, and endorsing the bill will be equivalent to signing a blank check.

The writer is a senior scientist at a national research institute in the Netherlands