More and more Indonesians and their leaders are guided by the spirit world in the current economic crisis, a practice that predates Islam
The Straits Times (Singapore), Aug. 28, 2002
By Devi Asmarani
JAKARTA – Women use it to entice the opposite sex, celebrities often resort to it to boost popularity and politicians turn to it to further their careers – the supernatural.
They are all clients of Indonesian psychics, practitioners of the occult and others with knowledge of the supernatural – all enjoying booming business despite the economic crisis.
In fact, with the current crisis, more people are turning to them in the hope of getting supernatural help to survive the tough times.
Even government leaders consult them when making policies.
Mr Solichin W.D., a spiritual consultant, told The Straits Times: ‘Indonesian leaders come from a society where the traditional belief in the supernatural predates Islam, and other religions are still strong.
‘When they want instant promotions, or their political careers to survive, or in times of crises, it is easier to for them to resort to the mystical world.’
The recent ‘treasure-hunt’ controversy involving Religious Minister Said Aqil Munawar is an example of how widespread faith in the supernatural is in Indonesia.
Mr Said ordered the digging of Batutulis in West Java after he consulted ‘a wise man’, a Muslim cleric with supernatural powers, who told him there were millions of dollars worth of national treasures under the Batutulis site.
The hunt embarrassed the government, with the minister later apologising after being censured by President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
History shows that nearly all of Indonesia’s presidents, including Ms Megawati, have relied on the
supernatural while in power.
No one was more criticised for it than Mr Abdurrahman Wahid.
Before coming to power in 1999, the Muslim cleric told his friends that it had been revealed divinely to him that he would lead the country.
Millions of his loyalists from the Nahdlatul Ulama, the Muslim group he once led, cited this as they tried to block his impeachment.
Aides have said that when he was moving into the presidential palace in 1999, he had psychics ‘cleanse’ the place from the spirits kept by former president Suharto.
He visited the graves of Indonesia’s holy men regularly, including the nine pioneers of Islam in Java, especially before making key political decisions. He also consulted clerics with psychic powers.
At one point, VCD copies of him engaged in what appeared to be a supernatural ritual circulated.
Conservative Muslims criticised his practice of Islam as heretic.
Former president Suharto was also known to consult spiritual advisers and visit sacred historical sites and graves to seek divine help.
During his 32 years in power, he meditated regularly at remote Java locales to seek magical power.
The late president Sukarno also leaned towards the supernatural.
History books say that he sought divine support for the independence struggle at the ruins of the Jayabaya Kingdom in East Java.
Sources say his daughter, Ms Megawati, is equally superstitious. She moved the presidential office to another building when she came to power last year so as not to ‘absorb the aura of her predecessors’.