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Sharia remains priority for candidates
Jakarta Post - March 25, 2012
This was disclosed by candidates when they presented their vision and mission in front of Aceh Legislative Council members and the public at the beginning of the 15-day campaign period on March 22.
"The implementation of Islamic sharia in Aceh has not been as well as expected. We have to uphold the truth and destroy evil before conducting other programs," said Ahmad Tajudin, an independent gubernatorial candidate from the Islamic boarding school, known as pesantren.
Ahmad, popularly known as Abi Lam Pisang, who has paired with Teuku Suriasyah, is one of the five candidates for the gubernatorial election. The other four pairs are Irwandi Yusuf and Muhyan Yunan, Muhammad Nazar and Nova Iriansyah, Darni Daud and Ahmad Fauzi and Zaini Abdullah and Muzakir Manaf.
Ahmad himself is an Ulema chairing a pesantren in Seulimum, Aceh Besar regency. Wearing attire similar to that regularly worn in Iran, he was confident about winning the election.
Besides sharia, Ahmad also offered other programs, mainly for the strengthening of the ulema position as one of the major ways for Aceh to advance.
By strengthening the position of ulemas, according to Ahmad, there will be high hopes that the ulemas will contribute in various fields, including the economy and culture based on the appropriate implementation of sharia.
"We will return to the golden days of Aceh as a prosperous region which was known due to the past glory of Islam," he said.
Similar development programs based on sharia were also offered by the four other candidate pairs. However, even though each of them had their own programs, none of them forgot about the products related to sharia.
Other programs not related to sharia included the plan for free school tuition and health services. Improvement of infrastructure development and realignment of the government apparatus also became major parts of the programs offered by each candidate.
"During my term as a governor, I comprehensively implemented free school tuition and free health services. I want to continue improving the program," said former Aceh governor Irwandi.
As former governor, Irwandi was confident he would be able to garner the largest number of votes in the election.
The problem with improving the quality of education among university students was offered by Darni Daud, who is also former rector of Syiah Kuala University in Aceh. According to him, students in Aceh have to be able to access overseas scholarships without using state funds.
"So far, nearly all scholarships use state money. It's time now to change this so as not to burden the public," Darni said.
Differing from other candidates, Zaini Abdulah from the Aceh Party, which is backed by former combatants of the Free Aceh Movement, gave emphasis to the implementation of points covered in the Helsinki Peace MoU and Law on Aceh administration which have not been fully implemented thus far.
"Everything related to the MoU and the law constitute the peace mandate, which must be dealt with first to ensure all the development processes," said Zaini, who is also a political opponent of Irwandi.
Political tension between the two has led to a series of violent acts and incessant intimidation involving supporters from both camps. "I don't care about the programs. I just want the election to be carried out peacefully," said Syarifudin, a resident of Lhoong, Aceh Besar.
Syarifudin said he just wanted to ensure there would be no more conflict in Aceh so that local people could live in peace without any trauma related to past conflicts.