The majority of Indonesian and Malaysian citizens support clerics entering politics. Photo/Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR – A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center involving around 13,000 respondents in six Asian countries also found that around one in two Malaysians and Indonesians believe that religious leaders or ulama should enter politics.
In fact, the Pew Research Center revealed that around 6 in 10 respondents surveyed in Malaysia and Indonesia said religious leaders should talk openly about the political parties or politicians they support, and about half even said they should enter politics.
Additionally, more than half of respondents in Malaysia and Indonesia think that religious leaders should take part in political protests, slightly higher than the 50% of respondents surveyed in Cambodia and surpassing the 18 to 29% of respondents in Singapore, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand .
These countries are Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka which adhere to Buddhism as their official religion, Malaysia and Indonesia where the majority of the population is Muslim, and Singapore which does not have a majority religion.
The survey, conducted by an American research institute, also touched on various areas, including how respondents view the importance of religion to national identity, their preference for basing national laws on religious teachings, and their views on religious diversity.
For example, the survey found that 86% of Muslim respondents in Indonesia said it was “very important” to be a Muslim to be truly Indonesian, followed by 79% of Muslim respondents in Malaysia who also equated religion with religion as a national identity.
One of the study’s lead researchers, Jonathan Evans, told CNA that some of the questions in the survey aimed to understand how people think religion and politics “should or should not be combined.”
“Because there are so many ways for religious leaders to get involved in politics, we decided to ask some questions to gain a deeper understanding rather than simply asking ‘should religious leaders get involved in politics?’,” Evans said.
“Overall, Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia are more likely than other Muslims in the region to say that religious leaders should be involved in politics.”