Members of the notorious Islamic Defenders Front attend a rally in Jakarta in 2017. The Indonesian government is seeking to prevent supporters of such groups entering the civil service through new selection tests. (Photo: Ryan Dagur/UCA News)
The Indonesian government’s new selection procedures for civil servants will include elements that will gauge a candidate’s commitment to the national ideology, respecting other religions and nationalism to weed out potential extremists, in a move backed by the Catholic Church.
Indonesia has more than 4.3 million civil servants and at least 800,000 have been influenced by radical ideology, according to the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry.
Civil servants were among those arrested for involvement in two suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, East Java province, in 2018 and a cathedral in Makassar, South Sulawesi province, this year.
The ministry says it dismisses at least 40 civil servants each month because they have connections with radical groups linked to terror organizations such as Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda affiliate, or the Islamic State-supporting Jamaah Ansharut Daulah.
It has also dismissed those who join banned hardline groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
Previously, selection tests concentrated on character and intelligence but didn’t delve into beliefs, which is why extremism has infiltrated the civil service, ministry spokesman Katmoko Ari Sambodo said.
This new test will be important in preventing radicalism in the bureaucracy
“The anti-radicalism test aims to examine them on their patriotism, the national ideology, Pancasila [Five Principles], and tolerance towards others,” Sambodo said.
To most Indonesians, Pancasila symbolizes national unity and stipulates a belief in one God, a just and civilized society, a united Indonesia, democracy guided by consensus, and social justice for all citizens.
“This new test will be important in preventing radicalism in the bureaucracy,” Sambodo said without elaborating.
Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops' Commission for the Laity, backed the move.
“The civil service must be totally free of radicalism,” Father Siswantoko told UCA News. “We want people loyal to national ideology and the expulsion of those who work against it.”
Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, also welcomed the move, saying changes to selection procedure had been advocated by various groups including his own.
“It is important for civil servants to respect diversity. This new test should not only be for candidates but also those already working for government departments,” Naipospos told UCA News.