The Nobel Prize has eluded Indonesia, although a number of prominent figures were tipped for the prestigious award in the past. Novelist Pramudya Ananta Toer, whose works have been translated into 41 foreign languages, was touted several times as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature before his death in 2006. Vice President Jusuf Kalla was also billed as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in bringing peace to restive Aceh back in 2005.
Nobody, except the Nobel Committee, knows for sure whether Pramudya and Kalla were really on the list of nominees on account of the 50-year secrecy rule. However, Indonesia, dubbed the world’s third-largest democracy, and its eminent people, deserve the coveted award as recognition for their contribution to making the world a better place.
Perhaps after decades of waiting, now is an opportune time for Indonesia to carve out a piece of history by having its individuals or institutions join the Nobel Prize winners club. Just recently, a number of top Indonesian scholars jointly nominated the country’s largest and oldest Islamic groups, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, for the Noble Peace Prize.
Indonesian Ambassador to Norway Todung Mulya Lubis said public support for the nomination of the two Indonesian Islamic organizations had loomed from both national and international agencies. Former Timor Leste president Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 along with Timor Leste Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, is among the supporters.
Unlike other Nobel prizes, the Nobel Peace Prize falls under the auspices of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is composed of five members appointed by the Norwegian parliament. Those eligible to nominate include members of national assemblies and governments, university professors and Nobel laureates. The deadline for submission of nominees is Feb. 1, which means Indonesia still has seven months to gather support for the candidacy of the NU and Muhammadiyah, and to convince the Nobel Committee of the credentials of both organizations.
Competition for the Peace Prize next year will be tough, as always. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has received close to 200 different nominations in recent years.
History has shown that the NU and Muhammadiyah have helped shape the moderate face of Indonesian Islam and prove that democracy and Islam can coexist, if not enrich each other. As champions of moderation, the two mainstream Islamic organizations have played an instrumental role in Indonesian diplomacy, not only in the wake of the West-sponsored war on terror but also in promoting peace and order in many conflict zones.
As institutions, the NU and Muhammadiyah have actively taken part in interfaith dialogue across the globe, spreading the core values of mutual respect and tolerance that have long characterized Indonesia. In summary, the NU and Muhammadiyah represent Islam a la democratic Indonesia. However, with religious conservatism said to be creeping into the country, the road to the Nobel Prize remains bumpy for the two Islamic groups.Artikel Asli