The Other Side of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur): The Personal-Elitism Tendencies in Leading Party and Internal Fragmentation of National Awakening Party (1998-2008)

Abdurrahman Wahid World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2000

The Other Side of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur): The Personal-Elitism Tendencies in Leading Party and Internal Fragmentation of National Awakening Party (1998-2008)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 - 2:00pm
Venue: 
Deakin Room
Speaker(s): 
Firman Noor (Indonesian Institute of Science; University of Indonesia; University of Exeter)
Convenor: 
Dr M J Walton
Series: 
Southeast Asia Seminar

Abdurrahman Wahid, often fondly called Gus Dur, is one of the prominent figures of Indonesian social and political history. He is well-respected politically and culturally for championing religious tolerance and democracy. He staunchly defended minority rights. Gus Dur is also praised for his understanding on Islam and its plurality and inclusiveness. Many aspects of him, particularly his vision and commitment as Nahdatul Ulama leader, moderate moslem and pro-democracy figure, have been the subject of extensive discussions. However, some aspects of his political career has not enjoyed adequate attention, including his role as the leader of National Awakening Party (PKB). The stories of the other sides of Gus Dur are mostly derived from testimony of his closest companions. This seminar will attempt to address the style of his leadership of the PKB, which in some extent tend to be elitist and personal rather than a democratic style. Many of his policies created controversy aggravating strong internal resistance and eventually resulted in fragmention within the Party. The fact that some of the key actors of the internal resistance were his closest and trustworthy fellows showed a complicated relationship among them. As a matter of fact, such resistance was mainly motivated by a determination to preserve democracy within the PKB. This discourse essentially to some extent reveals the real situation of internal politic within the Party was still far from being institutionalised. This situation allowed Gus Dur to exercise his exclusive influence which undermined the solidity of internal system of the PKB.

Dr Firman Noor is a researcher at the Center for Political Research, Indonesian Institute of Science. He also teaches at the Department of Political Science and Graduate Program of Political Studies, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia. The focus of his research is political party, election, and political representation. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Indonesia and a MA from the Australian National University. He obtained a PhD from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Study at University of Exeter, where he currently is Honorary Research Fellow. He is a contributor in several books and the author of Perpecahan dan Soliditas Partai Islam di Indonesia: Kasus PKB dan PKS di Dekade Awal Reformasi