Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MUI edicts as a regulation approach

The edicts

Over the past decades, MUI (The Indonesian Ulema Council) has revealed about 90 edicts. The latest one is one of the most controversial edict, they talked about Indonesia’s health insurance.

“The implementation of Indonesia’s health insurance scheme delivered by BPJS Kesehatan (the Health Care and Social Security Agency) is inconsistent with sharia principles, especially the insurance components which are related to agreement among parties. This program contains elements of speculation, gambling and usury. We recommended that the government create a sharia BPJS,” the MUI said in a document published on its website, quoted by thejakartapost.com.

Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the biggest Islamic organization in Indonesia, criticized the MUI, claiming that the council issued edicts easily.

Easy easy peasy lemon squeezy folks, everytime MUI releases an edict, how many people obey it? Do they care? Even some muslims say ‘who cares?’. How far muslims care about MUI edicts? not much. Then why?

MUI might use the regulation approach, which is their edicts, as their political way to lead the Indonesian Muslims. The council acts as the regulationists. They offer an analysis of socio-economic change that tried to understand the importance of rules, norms, and conventions at a number of spatial scales from local, regional, and national in the mediation of sharia principles. Regulationists argue that socially embedded institutions like them-MUI and its networks, expressed as a series of ‘structural forms’, which are crucial to the continued existence of sharia, despite it triggers contradictions and crisis tendencies.

The consequences of the shift towards sharia modes of delivery in MUI are for ‘senses of belonging’ to a majority community that lies at the heart of existential muslim society. MUI is important in creating ‘certainty’ and ‘clarity’ : it is the main regulatory mechanism operating within the muslim society. With the arrival of other islamic organizations, often drawing their personnel from outside the society and driven by service agreements and market ethics, it highlights emergence of ‘confused muslims’and somewhat diluted sense of place and faith. Fundamental tensions exist in neoliberal governance between service-based and people-oriented strategies.

It is important to consider the complex links between the changing forms and functions of the MUI, muslims, and the political legitimacy. Working within the regulation approach, it presents a ‘consciously political conception’ of the MUI to draw attention to bottom-up its council-muslims relations that can challenge the MUI’s function. Although the MUI has ultimate political authority within its organization, this is derived from the collective willingness of the muslims to be ruled. The MUI, then is involved in a careful balancing act, set around ‘mutual expectations’ : the muslims expect the MUI to meet, or at least to perceive that it can meet, its obligations in return for behavioral allegiance.

How the MUI changes its intervention in response to its concil-muslims tensions? Indonesia contains 204 million muslims and that is an incubator for ‘secession movements’ – group which will turn their back on mainstream political group and prefer to pursue more unconventional ways of making themselves heard louder than MUI edicts.

We explore the tensions between the ‘competition group’ like MUI, focused on socio-economic competitiveness strategies such as inward investment and the maintaining of political legitimacy. The politics of socio-economic development through the edicts by MUI thus relates to defending a form of growth and preserving its council-muslims relations.

An overview of the uses made by the regulation approach of the edicts aims to capture changing institutional forms and functions of the MUI. This approach to political step is an on-going method and should not be read as fully finished or complete. We must speak of an approach rather than theory. What has gained acceptance is not a body of fully refined concepts but a research programme (Aglietta, 2000).

Tickell and Peck (1992) said the regulation approach doesnt have all the answers but it asks some interesting political geography questions. There are five ‘missing links’ in the approach – more work on modes of social regulation like the edicts ; more research on leading-edge motors of trust growth ; consideration of how and why social economics change through the edicts ; more attention to spatial scales of analysis on impact ; heightened consideration of consumption issues by society. MUI missed all those links, that’s why they lost and people disobey the edicts.

A recurrent criticism levelled against the regulation approach to political economy, the regulationist defence and a possible extension of regulatory theory. Lee (1995) mentioned it is often stated that regulation theory tends to insert a divide between the economy, which is bracketed as a black box and simultaneuosly cast as a key protagonist, and the cultural and political realms. In reply, regulationists claim that the socio-economics is constructed, reconstructed, and institutionalised through social, cultural, and political relations. So does MUI by its edicts.

The regulation approach should be combined with other approaches, such as state theory and discourse analysis, to get  better handle on political power. MUI should learn more about it as well, instead of merely paying attention on sharia. The idea of sharia BPJS could be good, yet it is also necessary to know how to deliver it properly.

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