Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has spoken out against the requirement for a religion to be noted on national identification cards.
“In other parts of the world, [such as] Malaysia, there is no column [on ID cards] for a religion. And Malaysia is a country with a very strong [tradition of] religion,” said Basuki at City Hall on Friday.
The former East Belitung district head said he opposed the inclusion of a religion column on national ID cards for any reason, saying it was unimportant. The practice discriminates against citizens who do not participate in state-sanctioned religions, but are forced to declare one against their beliefs in order to gain an ID card.
He described as absurd the argument that religion should be included on ID cards, known as KTP, for the purpose of burying the dead in accordance with their respective religions.
“In my personal opinion, I oppose it, it’s not important. What do you need to write down your religion on your ID card for? I just laugh at an argument which says it is needed to bury someone in accordance with their religion. What if you die in an airplane [crash]? Police have found many bodies that had no ID cards, how do you bury them?” he said.
Basuki said he considered Malaysia, which adopts strict regulations on religion in its laws, as more progressive than Indonesia in some regards.
“My question is simple, is Malaysia less religious than us? Malaysia doesn’t even have a Religious Affairs Ministry, there’s no religion column on its ID card. It’s much more advanced than we are,” he said.
“Those corruptors should not write down their religion in their ID card,” he added, referring to Indonesia’s numerous corruption scandals.
“It’s an embarrassment to their religion if people know what their religion is.”
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said that if it is considered wrong to include the religion column in the ID card, then the lawmakers should revise the law.
Gamawan said that there are six religions acknowledged by the state, and stipulated under a 2006 law on population administration. But some Indonesians are atheist, or adhere to local religious beliefs that aren’t included in those six.
“It’s okay if you want to increase the number of religions to six or nine as long as it’s stipulated under the law,” Gamawan said, as quoted by Republika on Friday.