is musyawarah mufakat killing our nation?
June 3, 2008
that was the question that filled my mind throughout the weekend.
on saturday and sunday, i attended the tenth annual ppi-m (indonesian student association in malaysia) congress, held in universiti kebangsaan malaysia (ukm), as a full delegate. the whole objective of the congress was to settle the AD/ART and GBHO (basically the whole constitution that PPI-M stands on) and also to vote for a new president of the association.
yet throughout the day, i saw that little matters became the reason for the unsuccessful settlement of issues that were raised. in one part of the congress, we were discussing certain rules of the constitution. words such as ‘mensahkan’ (or ‘legalize’), was finally agreed upon an hour later with 6 options, and in the end? they decided to stick with the old rules.
examples of the discussions we had that stretched the agenda could go on and on, but it all basically comes down to one idea. in indonesia, discussion and coming into consensus on an issue is usually done through a process we call musyawarah mufakat (my lawyer-to-be older brother had once given me the translation for the term, but i’ve basically erased it from my memory because it was literally 2 sentences long), or something we can understand as “a process of deliberation and compromise, which will usually end up in an unanimous consensus, and becomes binding to the community” (The West New Guinea Debacle, n.d). this practice was done within small groups of organizations, usually within village governments, but has been adapted into our national practice of politics.
before, musyawarah mufakat was a unique practice that set us apart from the normalcy of democratic processes. indonesia wasn’t simply adapting whatever they did there in the western hemisphere, but we were amalgamating our own set of asian values with western democracy, we had something that neither malaysia, singapore, china, japan or vietnam had (at that time). we were able to be modern in a way that we did not lose our southern roots, we were glocalizing ourselves, and we were damn proud of it.
i believe i always had this thought in the back of my head, but it was just recently (at the congress) that i believe it struck me. we spent more than 12 mindless hours discussing and arguing, debating and rebutting and pretty much wasting time. yes. that’s what came to me. musyawarah mufakat is time-wasting. it is inefficient, and it is giving the opportunity for our citizens to inflate their egos and participate in a contest where they see who can yell “my solution is more concrete!” faster and louder.
efficiency is what we need to be able to catch up in today’s world. globalization (yes, sooner or later i will link everything to globalization…) is a fast-paced global process, fancy words to describe what is basically seen as a global race to see who is more developed and can rule the world. and unfortunately, musyawarah mufakat may be the one slowing us down (okay, maybe it isn’t the only thing slowing us down, but i believe it may be one of the factors).
yet cultural traditions such as musyawarah, silahturahmi, asal ngumpul, is also known to be a very asian culture. we live in a part of the world where social dependency and communal-ism reigns in our community, and stripping off musyawarah mufakat and just going by democratic voting isn’t exactly the way to go, either. so what is the concrete solution here? is it time to reform our understanding of how musyawarah mufakat should be? yes it might be a cultural identity kill, but don’t you think it might be worth it?
*random ramblings after attending a nationalistic congress and reviewing int2040. copyrights reserved.