Dr Adam James Fenton – 2022

The Pancasila Ideological Direction Bill (RUU-HIP) – a missed opportunity?

The Direction Bill (RUU-HIP) which sought to build a more open and educated Indonesian society, stem intolerance, and “develop policy in all fields of life … based on national science and technology” contained a controversial reference to Soekarno’s original thoughts on the national ideology. Perceived as a serious threat to fundamentalist religious groups, prolonged debate and disagreement led to mass protests and opposition resulting in the bill being removed from the legislative agenda in January 2021. It was a missed opportunity to shift the national trajectory away from its drift towards religious ethnocentrism and intolerance towards a public policy agenda emphasising education, open-mindedness, technology and development. The paper argues that, despite some suspicion of the bill’s motives combined with authoritarian moves on the part of President Joko Widodo, this bill sought to emphasise the inclusive, secular aspects of Pancasila for the overall benefit of the nation. Further, this policy approach has been supported and promoted in the education sector in particular, by Education Minister Nadiem Makarim through his “Pelajar Pancasila” program to develop a new generation of educated, ethical Indonesians by reference to the foundational principles of the national ideology.

Dr. Adam James Fenton
Research Fellow, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations
Coventry University


Dr. Adam James Fenton is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, UK. Prior to this he was a lecturer and Programme Director at the Postgraduate Programme of the LSPR Communication and Business Institute, Jakarta. He completed a doctoral thesis at Charles Darwin University in 2015 researching Indonesia’s counter-terrorism legislation and law enforcement. In 2010 he received the CDU Chancellor’s Medal for Postgraduate Diploma in Indonesian language. His research interests include ASEAN maritime security, terrorism studies, Indonesian law, human rights, and constitutional law.