Calls to cut red tape for places of wor­ship

The Jakarta Post - - HEADLINES - Dian Sep­tiari

While prais­ing the Jakarta ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to al­low re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties at the Na­tional Mon­u­ment (Monas) park com­pound, a com­mit­ment to cut bu­reau­cratic red tape for re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties plan­ning to build places of wor­ship is much more needed by mi­nor­ity re­li­gions.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2006 joint min­is­te­rial de­cree be­tween the Home Min­istry and the Re­li­gious Af­fairs Min­istry, the es­tab­lish­ment of houses of wor­ship re­quires at least 90 sig­na­tures from con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers and 60 sig­na­tures of peo­ple liv­ing in the neigh­bor­hood of the planned house of wor­ship. This re­quire­ment alone has made it harder for mi­nor­ity re­li­gions to es­tab­lish their own places of wor­ship.

“It’s prac­ti­cally eas­ier to set up a mas­sage par­lor than to build a house of wor­ship,” Rusli, of the In­done­sian Bud­dhist Coun­cil Or­ga­ni­za­tion [Walubi], said, adding that there were many Bud­dhist tem­ples or Vi­ha­ras op­er­at­ing il­le­gally, be­cause the man­age­ment were over­whelmed by the com­pli­cated re­quire­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Gu­ber­na­to­rial De­cree No. 83/2012, which serves as a de­riv­a­tive of the min­is­te­rial de­cree, in ad­di­tion to hav­ing 90 con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers and sup­ported by 60 peo­ple in the neigh­bor­hood, the re­li­gious com­mu­nity must ob­tain a prin­ci­pal per­mit from the gov­er­nor. The per­mit would al­low the re­li­gious com­mu­nity to ac­quire a build­ing con­struc­tion per­mit (IMB) so that they can start con­struc­tion legally.

“My bureau will only sub­mit the pro­posal to the gov­er­nor if they are able to get a rec­om­men­da­tion from may­ors of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity where the house of wor­ship is lo­cated, a rec­om­men­da­tion from the Jakarta branch of the In­ter­faith Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Fo­rum (FKUB) and a rec­om­men­da­tion from the re­gional of­fice of Re­li­gious Af­fairs Min­istry,” the head of Jakarta’s Men­tal and Spir­i­tual Ed­u­ca­tion Bureau, Aceng Zaini, said.

The bureau is re­spon­si­ble for pro­cess­ing pro­pos­als to is­sue per­mits for places of wor­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to 2015 data from the bureau, there are 245 reg­is­tered Vi­hara, serv­ing al­most 380,000 Bud­dhists in the city.

The bureau has also reg­is­tered 45 Catholic churches serv­ing 402,000 peo­ple and 27 Hindu tem­ples for 19,000 peo­ple.

Aceng said there were some 10,000 reg­is­tered places of wor­ship in the cap­i­tal, around 8,700 of which were mosques and mushola (small mosques). “But those are only the ones on our data­bases, there are def­i­nitely more [...] be­cause some of them haven’t ap­plied for per­mits.”

He said the process was sim­ple and would only take three to four weeks to process if they met all the re­quire­ments. The bureau has only is­sued 13 per­mits this year, Aceng said, six of which were for mosques and seven for churches.

The sec­re­tary of Jakarta chap­ter of FKUB, Tau­fiq Rah­man Azhar, said a rec­om­men­da­tion from his agency was needed to make sure that the con­struc­tion of a place of wor­ship would not cause con­flict in a com­mu­nity.

This year, Jakarta’s FKUB has is­sued 12 rec­om­men­da­tions, mostly for mosques and churches.

Tau­fiq said re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties must talk to the neigh­bor­hood, the com­mu­nity units, district and sub-district of­fices and ob­tain stamped sig­na­tures from all posts, in­clud­ing 60 sup­port­ers in the neigh­bor­hood. “We also sug­gest that the 60 are made up of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent re­li­gions, so we can know that there would not be a con­flict in the fu­ture.”

Se­tara In­sti­tute deputy di­rec­tor Bonar Tigor Naipospos said the re­quire­ments had raised the ire of mi­nor­ity re­li­gions for be­ing too bu­reau­cratic. “The gov­ern­ment should up­hold the free­dom to gather, unite and ex­press re­li­gious be­lief ac­cord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion. It should not be re­stricted by oth­ers,” he said.

The same reg­u­la­tion had forced then gov­er­nor Ba­suki “Ahok” Tja­haja Pur­nama to close a Protes­tant Church in 2015 be­cause of lack of sup­ports although it had been es­tab­lished for 30 years.

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