Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The Pancasila Ideological Direction Bill (RUU‐HIP): A Missed Opportunity?

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Abstract:  Indonesia faces a number of acute developmental challenges, hence, there is a need for evidence-based policies to address a range of socio-political issues. This article examines the rise and fall of an ill-fated bill introduced into parliament in 2020 (the “RUU-HIP”) which sought to reshape the nation’s understanding of the state philosophy, Pancasila, while promoting “policy based on national science and technology.” The article argues that Pancasila, which mandates “Belief in the One and Only God” as its first tenet, has a number of unintended and damaging consequences; it limits freedom of religion and thought; bolsters the position of powerful mainstream religious organisations; contributes to extremist, marginalising religious stances; and acts as a potent and pervasive barrier to innovation at all levels of social and political life. As a lens through which to view Indonesia’s national ideology, the article examines the RUU-HIP and takes account of the historical roots of the state ideology and the pivotal role of its main progenitor, Soekarno. It examines some of the deleterious effects of Pancasila outlined above and concludes that the first sila, along with a controversial Blasphemy Law, ought to be amended and repealed respectively, to allow for greater freedom of religion and thought. The article concludes that while amending Pancasila may, contrary to prevailing legal thought, be theoretically possible, in the current socio-political climate this would be unthinkable for most Indonesians.

Keywords:  blasphemy; constitutional law; freedom of religion; Indonesia; national ideology; Pancasila



© Adam James Fenton. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.