1Through this study, we will present a particular aspect of the global context of business in Banten (Indonesia) and its tie to the question of ethics. Indeed, the economical sphere and the ethical discourse locally appears to be mainly promoted by a local category of leaders called the jawara. Through them, the business activity as well as other main social activities such as rituals, religion and politics, are supported by a moral discourse that is tied to local traditional conceptions and to Islam ideology in which activities of the jawara and their specific leadership positions express themselves.
- 1 See also Hamid & Masaaki (2008: 113-114), Treche (2012).
2In this broad perspective, we must specify that, in Banten, another cultural leader also has great influence upon religious, political life and, in a lesser way, economical life: the kiai. The kiai refers to an expert of Islam who teaches the classical Islamic texts in his own Islamic boarding schools (pesantren). The Bantenese historian Tihami (1992: 200) shows that the jawara is historically linked to the kiai. According to Tihami, jawara are rural strongmen or semi urban embedded men of prowess who are skillful in the local traditional martial art of penca. Jawara are partly tied to clandestine spheres and are often involved into criminal activities.1 Their link to the kiai is mainly due to the fact that they can get magical power from them, and that this power can be used to exert authority upon society, on both physical and spiritual ways and as representative leaders.
3A well-known jawara of Banten, Kasmiri Assabdu says that historically, mainly during the Dutch colonization era, jawara were kiai’s bodyguards, an idea which is largely spread into Bantenese society. Kiai and jawara have played key roles in the more important political events of Banten’s history, such as the 1888 peasant revolution, the 1926 communist rebellion, and the 1945 Indonesian revolution. If the kiai used to be the local leader—following a historical process (Facal, 2012)—since the independence their positions evolved and inverted.
4In this article, we would like to explore jawara’s ethic entrepreneurship by comparing two prominent jawara of Banten who lead some of the most important businesses in the region and develop respective ethic references underlying their activities. The presentation establishes a comparison between the activities of H. Chasan Sochib, the main figure of the jawara, with H. Embay Mulya Syarif’s, a former Chasan’s right-hand, who later became one of Chasan’s main opponents. Chasan leads a construction company and he has extended his influence to most parts of Bantenese direction official institutions. Embay develops his business through the trans-regional transport (Lampung-Jakarta) of furniture and through Islamic banking.
- 2 On these questions, see Treche (2012).
5Concerning the ethical dimension, the underground activities overstepping the mark of morality and secretly perpetrated—evoked above—drive us to question the nature of traditional authority, the link of economy to authority (traditional or not traditional), and the link between authority and politics. Indeed, with the politico-economic national recent changes (loss of power of the army, direct voting system, opening of the State markets)2 that have been initiated with the decentralization process in 1998, there has been an increasing weight of private economic interests upon public political orientations. It is notably reflected in the way Banten has been elevated to the status of province in 2000 and has also benefited the birth of Serang city in 2007 and of South Tangerang city in 2008, which is mainly due to the social and political action of the local leaders of the province: the kiai and the jawara.
6Our analysis is that the strong wave of economical liberalism and the new rules of political leadership—tied to the democratic trends after the fall of Suharto’s regime—have been used by the jawara’s networks and ideology to increase their actions in business and politics. The concomitant question is to know what kind of political governance enables the intrusion of liberalism in a social context not dominated by a strong political or religious power.
7In the early 1970’s, under the President Suharto’s regime, Bantenese kiai and jawara were co-opted into the political organisms of the governing party, the Functional Groups (Golongan Karya, Golkar). As a result, in 1971 most of the Islamic scholars (kiai and ulama) were affiliated to the organisation founded by the Golkar: the Ulama Work Squad (Satuan Karya Ulama, Satkar Ulama). The kiai and ulama who were considered as not enough supportive of Golkar were pressured by the New Order Regime and the military.3
- 4 Masaaki & Hamid (2008: 117).
8In 1972, through the same political movement of cooptation of the local political forces, the main jawara were unified into the Martial Artists Work Squad (Satuan Karya Jawara, Satkar Jawara). This group was subsequently renamed into the Indonesian Union of Bantenese Masters of Martial Arts, Art and Culture (Persatuan Pendekar Persilatan Seni Budaya Banten Indonesia, PPPSBBI).4 Haji Chasan Sochib, the leader of PPPSBBI argued the reason of this renaming:
- 5 “Istilah Satkar Jawara di dalam negara kesatuan Republik Indonesia ini kurang cocok, karena Jawara (...)
The term jawara in the unitary Republic of Indonesia is not suitable, because jawara is a colonial term. So, it should be kept out. The term is rather discordant against us, because the term jawara in this area has sometimes been considered negatively. Therefore, to highlight the quality of our members and the quality of our regeneration and militancy action we have to bring the language of moral booster and high moral.5
9Thus, the use of the term pendekar had the goal to reduce the negative stigma attached to the term jawara. But even so, the term jawara was so deeply entrenched that it remained irreplaceable for Bantenese citizens, while the term pendekar was only used by the members of the organization Pendekar Banten.
10PPPSBBI motto is “Self-defense, defend the nation, defend the country” (“Bela diri, bela bangsa, bela Negara”). The notion of self-defense has been translated not only as the ability of the members to physically defend themselves with martial arts, but also as a mission of security, social protection and economical development. It can be seen in the statutes and rules of PPPSBBI which state:
- 6 “[…] Kita harus bertekad bulat untuk memerangi kemiskinan, dan menjaga keamanan dan ketertiban Nega (...)
We are determined to fight poverty and to maintain security and order in our beloved Republic of Indonesia, as our motto is “Fight for Independence in the past, Create Prosperity now”.6
11Another statement in the statutes and rules is:
- 7 “[…] dan bidang kewiraswastaan pun perlu kita galakkan guna pemanfaatan tenaga-tenaga kerja sesuai (...)
[...] we need to develop the field of entrepreneurship and to use labor-force in accordance with their respective fields. Now, we must be able to eradicate poverty and ignorance through the action of PPPSBBI organization.7
12The initial cooptation of the jawara by the Golkar successfully reached the political goals of the organization. Golkar gained mass support and developed locally in the villages through the networks of Pendekar Banten (PB). A consequence was the involvement of the PB into economical affairs of the region, as it was able to benefit from the government funded infrastructure projects.
13As it had been a motto for Suharto’s New Order expansion, development became one for PB. The organization soon dominated and controlled the other business poles of Banten and it distributed the projects among the members of the group. However, the hegemony of the organization through economical affairs kept strongly determined by the central position of its founder, Chasan.
14Chasan was born in Serang in 1930. He attended a boarding school (pesantren) before joining a guerilla warfare unit during the revolutionary period. He started his career in business as a rice supplier between Banten and Lampung the regions. He developed strong connections both into the underworld and the army and he was appointed in 1967 to become the main logistic supplier of a Siliwangi Military Division (West Java Province Military Regional Command).
- 8 Masaaki & Hamid (2008: 118).
15Two years after, he founded a construction company, CV Sinar Ciomas (later on renamed PT. Sinar Ciomas Raya),which frequently won government contracts, such as the building of the great Rau Market and roads in Bekasi and Karawang districts. He was involved into various projects from the Krakatau Steel State Company, the largest steel company in Southeast Asia. Later, he developed his firm in tourism and real estate sectors. Further, he held key positions in decision making associations, such as the Regional and Central Chamber of Trade and Industry (Kamar Dagang dan Industri, Kadin) and the Indonesian National Contractors Association (Gabungan Pengusaha Indonesia, Gapensi). Progressively, he appointed his men on these association’s executive committees at the local level, creating strong mechanisms of decision for his personal projects.8
16Besides, Chasan had many social activities. He was one of the founders of the Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa University; head of the Serang branch of the 45’ Generation (Angkatan 45, a committee of former members of Indonesia’s Independence veterans); founder and head of the Koran Readers Association of Banten (Ikatan Qori-Qori’ah Banten).9
17Chasan encouraged other local strongmen to enter the business and entrepreneurial world. Thus, the former general secretary of PPPSBBI, Kasmiri Assabdu, created his own construction company: Bunda;10 Embay Mulya Syarif, the son of a former independence war figure and a well-known jawara, joined PT. Sinar Ciomas Raya and became an executive of the Gapensi and head of the Kadin in the Serang district. As a leader of the main economic institutions, Chasan could share the government funded projects among local businessman and he get the fee of 10-11% for each project.
- 11 See Hidayat (2007: 224).
18Chasan’s monopolistic way of orienting public capitals provoked strong protests. Some opponents denounced his practices as “project racketeering” (premanisme proyek). In 2003, the political faction of the Justice Star Party (Amanat Bintang Keadilan, ABK) transmitted to the Banten Province Legislative Council (DPRD) a formal statement about this issue, accusing Chasan and the Central Chamber of Trade and Industry. Few days after, for the next council session, Chasan came with around one hundred local businessmen and fifty jawara to meet with the ABK faction. He demanded the party to withdraw the statement and to apologize “to Kadin and to the society of Banten”. After this incident, the project racketeering polemic faded away.11
- 12 Harian Banten, 7 July 2001.
- 13 Reported in the newsweek Tempo, 18 February 2004.
19Moreover, in his activities, both economically and politically, Chasan often used violence practices. In 2001, under his direction, jawara hit hundreds of students who protested in front of the local parliament building against the filling of Banten legislators.12 Another violent incident happened when Chasan sent jawara to threaten the local newspaper Harian Banten (now Radar Banten), because it had published opposite information concerning the Governor Election. The following night, a group of jawara went to Harian Banten office and draped machete to the managing editor’s neck. Other act of violence occurred when a local newspaper, Satellite News, published information about embezzlement in the Rau Market’s renovation. In front of Chasan, jawara tortured two Satellite News reporters.13
20These anti constitutional practices didn’t prevented Chasan to be indirectly active on the formal political scene. His group successfully supported Djoko Munandar and Chasan’s eldest daughter, Ratu Atut Chosiyah, who were elected respectively as the Governor and Vice-Governor of Banten for the period 2001-2006. For many of the political incumbents, this victory was surprising because Atut Chosiyah was not an important figure of Golkar political party, comparing to other candidates such as Ali Yahya, the most prominent Golkar’s senior figure. Moreover, the election process in the Parliament revealed many practices of money politics and intimidation.14
- 15 “Saya adalah Gubernur Jendral. Jika dia keliru dalam mengemban amanah kepemimpinan di Banten, Abah (...)
21If Chasan played a key role into the raising of the Djoko-Atut couple, some of his statements show that for him authority status and influence were far more important than political position: “I am actually the Governor General. If he (Djoko Munandar) goes wrong in leading Banten, I will correct him. I am responsible for him. He rose with my support.”15
22After this election, Chasan’s family increasingly dominated local politics in Banten. Atut Chosiyah won the 2006 Governor direct election and it opened the possibility for Chasan to appoint many members of his family into strategic political positions, both at legislative and executive levels. The first step was the candidacy of his daughter in law, Airin Rachmi Diani, as the Vice-Regent of Tangerang. In 2008, Chasan’s son, Khaerul Jaman, succeeded to become the Vice-Mayor of Serang City. Tatu Chasanah, Chasan’s youngest daughter, became Vice-Regent of Serang in 2010. In 2011, Airin Rachmi Diani became Mayor of South Tangerang City. In 2011, Chasan’s young wife, Heryani, was elected as Vice-Regent of Pandeglang Regency. A number of the family members reached the head of the parliaments, both at the local and national levels.
23This expansion of Chasan’s influence shows that it is initially through economical development that his organisation, Pendekar Banten, was able to progressively gain political positions. These evolutions were made possible because Pendekar Banten presented itself as a cultural group, meant to protect the local interests of the Bantenese people. This position legitimated both its involvement in the religious and social spheres. Chasan asserted to be the direct descent of a noble line and he claimed that his family had fought with the heroes for the Independence. He first served the national regime of President Suharto, promoting the national doctrine of the Pancasila and taking off the political dimension of Islam through his heading of the religious organization of cooptation, the Satuan Karya Ulama. After 1998, his group gained autonomy and an increasing power at the regional level.
24This monopolistic position on the politico-economic activities forced rival groups to extend their activities in specific domains. It was the case for one of Chasan’s main opponents, Haji Embay Mulya Syarif, who oriented his business in Islamic banking and trans-regional transportation.
25Since his beginnings in business, one of the closest persons of Chasan was Embay Mulya Syarif. Both shared long family and neighborhood relationships in Ciomas region. Embay was born in 1952 in the hilly region of Pandeglang. When he was a young boy he was known to like to fight, and was skillful in various styles of penca like Cimande, Gagak Lumayung, Terumbu, and Bandrong. His father, Haji Mulya Syarif, was reputed a prominent figure of the jawara in Ciomas and was very close to Chasan.
26In 1972, Embay was recruited in Chasan’s firm PT. Sinar Ciomas. He was engaged in the rice business sector, by being assigned to Lampung to take care of the rice sent from Banten under the contracts of the State Logistic Agency (Badan Urusan Logistik, Bulog). After one year in Lampung, Embay moved to Banten to join Chasan in construction business. His first job was to carry out the building of the central road of Serang municipality. Then, he participated in resettlement projects of the firm PT. Krakatau Steel in Cilegon. His career in PT. Sinar Ciomas increased rapidly and in 1974 he became one of the board members of the company. In 1978 he got two strategic positions, as an Operational Director of PT. Sinar Ciomas and as a branch manager of this firm in Karawang.
27The same year, amid the peak of his career, Embay decided to resign from PT. Sinar Ciomas because he wanted to create his own business. He founded PT. Berkah Saputra, a company related to construction business. PT. Berkah Saputra got various projects, such as the construction of the Krakatau Steel Hospital and the Krakatau Steel Training Centre. Embay also briefly occupied the position of chairman of the Serang District Chamber of Trade and Industry. Then, he progressively left the construction business and state founded activities to become closely tied to the economical Muslim sphere, especially in the sharia (Islamic economical system) banking. In 1994, he founded and directed the Bank Syariah Baitul Muawanah in Cilegon, and further he became commissioner in various companies, such as the Bank Syariah Berkah Ramadhan, PT. Wali Jasa Pratama (Cargo Company), PT. Al Bantani Cipta Niaga (Steel Distributor) and PT. Taman Graha Asri (Property Company).
- 16 Interview with Embay, Serang, 13 September 2011.
28He also increased his actions in social and religious activities. He became member of the headboard of the Indonesian Ulama Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) and of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) branch of Serang, which at the central level was led by the prominent national political figure, B. J. Habibie. Due to his close relation with him in ICMI, when Habibie replaced Suharto as President of the Republic of Indonesia in 1998, Embay was sought to send a thousand and five hundreds jawara to join the Reform Movement of Banten Society (Gerakan Reformasi Masyarakat Banten, GRMB). The group, which was soon better known as Pam Swakarsa, had the task to defend Habibie in the special session of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, MPR). According to Embay, the group was composed mostly from kiai and their students (santri) to face the Anti Special Session movement (Gerakan Anti Sidang Istimewa MPR) issued from Christian campuses, such as the Universitas Kristen Indonesia or the Catholic Universitas Atmajaya. Embay argued that the reason of his help was that Habibie was a symbol of ICMI and Islam.16
29Besides, Embay organized religious scholars and Muslim activities through the Forum Ukhuwah Islamiyah Banten (FUIB), which condemned the slaughtering of the Muslim congregation in Ambon and the burning of houses and mosques. He declared:
- 17 “Jika sampai 27 Maret 1999 kasus (Ambon) tidak diselesaikan, kita tidak ragu untuk mengibarkan bend (...)
If until March 27 1999 the (Ambon) cases are not settled, we will not hesitate to wave the flag Jihad Fi Sabilillah, Li ‘I’Laaikalimatullah (“Jihad war in the way of Allah, there is no sentence but Allah”).17
- 18 Interview with Embay, Serang, 14 September 2011.
30Embay was also one of the prominent figures who encouraged the establishment of Banten Province. Along with the religious leader Aminuddin Kiai Ibrahim, he set a scenario during President Habibie’s visit to Pandeglang in 1999. Aminuddin Kiai Ibrahim asked for four things to the President: 1) The establishment of Banten Province; 2) The establishment of a State University in Banten; 3) The formation of Cilegon City; 4) The formation of South Banten Municipality. Those claims were directly oriented against Chasan’s hegemony: they could participate to the independence of an educated students class, they would fraction the territorial centrality of the province, and the forces linked to Embay in Cilegon and South Banten would be reinforced. Habibie welcomed most of those wishes and, according to Embay, the links between them have kept in the best terms since the establishment of Banten province.18
31At the same time that he promoted Banten’s autonomy, Embay increased his economical activities. In 2000, together with the businessman and politician Mardiono, he founded the PT. Buana Centra Swakarsa (PT. BCS), a logistic company serving goods delivery to various places in Indonesia. Embay was the PT. BCS Chief Executive Officer during 2000-2009. One major client of BCS is PT. Krakatau Steel (KS), for which BCS sends the steel production throughout Indonesia. BCS has 200 units of vehicles scattered in Cilegon, Tanjung Priok (Jakarta) and Palembang (South Sumatra). According to the company, it has grown very rapidly, to be able to manage warehouses in 19 cities and districts points of the islands of Java and Bali, accumulating 100% nominal increase each year from 2007 until 2009.19
32Embay’s business evolution shows that he has tried to develop his activities in specific spheres that were not conquered by Chasan. He runs trans-regional transportation thanks to the support of national personalities and he positions himself as more concerned by religious matters. The ideology he promotes tends to a revivalist view which supports the formalization of Islamic law, as it is expressed in his involvement in the Ambonese conflict and his leadership in Syariah Banking. Those religious and economic bases give him influence to compete at the political level through indirect strategies.
- 20 Interview with Embay, Serang, 14 September 2011.
33After his split with Chasan—his former boss in PT. Sinar Ciomas—, Embay became one of his main opponents and he often criticized the provincial government, which Chasan largely controlled. This one, as the founder and head of the provincial branch of Chamber of Trade and Industry, limited Embay’s business. Embay even asserts that by the past Chasan’s group tried to murder him and it is a reason of why he doesn’t want to get involved into the government funded projects and to directly participate in political life. For example, he refused the proposition of becoming the provincial head of the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional, PAN). He publicly asserts that in a democratic system, such as the Indonesian one, it is impossible to get a good leader, because “the candidates must use money politics in order to win”.20
34Nevertheless, Embay keeps playing in the backstage. He endorsed Taufik Nuriman in Serang regency elections in 2005, and later, in 2009 he supported Taufik Ruki as a candidate member of the Regional Representatives Council. In 2011, he rejected the offers of a number of political parties to become a candidate for governor, but he supported and financed his right-hand, MM.
35Embay also indirectly supported Banten’s activists who fought against Chasan’s domination, acting as an advisor and benefactor. In 2002, together with figures such as Taufik Nuriman, Eki Syachrudin, or Irsyad Djuwaeli, he set up an association called Deliberation Commission for the people of Banten (Majelis Musyawarah Masyarakat Banten, M3B), which criticized and fought against Chasan’s political and economical domination in Banten. The movement involved Muslim and campus activists, as well as prominent underworld leaders who directly competed with Chasan’s group. For example, his associate Taufik Nuriman held an important position in the military national Special Forces group Kopassus. In this period, this group was the main opponent to Chasan’s hegemony, by managing racketeering and security networks, mainly in Cilegon and in the Krakatau Steel complex. However, Taufik Nuriman would later become an associate of Chasan, marking his separation from Embay.
36At the same time, Embay increased his actions in religious activities. In 2002, he founded the Preparatory Committee for the Implementation of Islamic Shariah in Banten (Panitia Persiapan Penerapan Syariah Islam di Banten, P3SIB) that aimed to urge the application of Islamic law in the region through local regulations (Peraturan daerah, Perda). Embay also used a variety of mass media to promote the application of Islamic law.21 In addition, he became chairman of the economical department of the Bantenese branch of the Indonesian Ulama’s Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI), adviser of the Forum of Friendship between Coranic schools (Forum Silaturahmi Pondok Pesantren, FSPP) of Banten, supervisor of the Amal Zakat of Serang regency, chairman of the Unity of Islamic community (Persatuan Umat Islam, PUI) of Banten and member of the Experts Council of Indonesian Mosques Assembly of Indonesia (Majelis Pakar Dewan masjid Indonesia). His involvement in those social and religious organizations gives him the opportunity of developing a huge network of support and therefore, to increase his influence.
- 22 Interviews with the heads of the Haji Salam school (Serang, 11th February 2010).
37As a result, Embay’s moving away from the State funding projects of Chasan’s firm Sinar Ciomas has not meant the dissociation of his economical activities from his position in key political and religious institutions. Moreover, he has not abandoned his authority position as a jawara. He uses his connections with local strongmen (notably in Serang, Cilegon, some regions of South Banten and South Lampung) to protect and to develop his firm and to indirectly take part into the competition against Chasan’s group. He still develops the huge penca school Haji Salam, which is widespread in Banten. Some branches of the school work in the security sector in the Krakatau Steel complex, and the trainings of the main branch take place in his house in Pekarungan. They concern hundreds of practitioners and compose a network for political support and economical activities.22
38As a result, references to religion and local martial arts give to Embay the image of a defender of regional culture and history. He uses this force to legitimate his actions in the business sector and he takes benefit from the fact that many local leaders aim to compete against Chasan hegemony.
39The cases of Chasan and Embay underline the weight of informal networks upon the economical sphere in Banten. They illustrate how have been achieved the initial goals which figure in the statutes and rules of the huge jawara’s organization Pendekar Banten: increasing the involvement of the jawara into the politico-economic sphere, assuming security and the region’s collaboration to the national regime’s projects. Then, both leaders succeeded to impose themselves in the business sector and to reorient their activities for development after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998. Chasan has led on institutional support by pushing his family to integrate key functions of the administration and of decision-making bodies. On his hand, Embay has focused on popular and local support, by promoting socio-religious actions and the adoption of Islamic law.
40Chasan and Embay don’t have any formal political position, neither in executive nor in legislative. However, they play key roles by acting in the background, they support political actors that reinforce their influence and carry them economic benefit. Both compete with each other through indirect actions of pressure. Chasan has never occupied any political function but he has always been more powerful than the formal elected persons. He has managed the central position of a shadow group of influence that has been able to control the official regional government until today. Similarly, Embay has always rejected any political function, such as the head of political parties or as governor, but he actively supports executive and legislative candidates. Both examples show that jawara’s practices are so deep-rooted in Bantenese society that it is extremely difficult to achieve economical and political goals without using their methods. Thus entrepreneurship activities are directly concerned as they form the basis of jawara’s influence, as we have seen before.
41However, even if Chasan and Embay share similarities through the legitimating of their power by their prowess and penca skill and by using influence networks to develop their business activities, they distinguish each other mainly concerning the ideology they promote. Chasan has gained hegemony at the political and economical levels by using practices of violence. He has reached his politico-economical goals by co-opting religious forces into the Satkar Ulama organization, under the umbrella of the Suharto’s military State. On the opposite, Embay put the stress on the defense of Islam and the need of political reforms that would give a prominent place to religion. In this respect, the revival of political Islam since the fall of Suharto has allowed him to increase his parts in economical affairs.
42Then, whereas Chasan orients his discourse on nationalist values and the necessity of individual competitiveness, Embay promotes a collective unity of Bantenese people behind the banners of Islam and Banten province. It’s clear that both have reoriented their ideological arguments, following the national evolutions and their personal strategies for politico-economic gain. If the jawara’s domination over politico-economic spheres provokes strong popular oppositions, it’s also quite accepted by a large part of the Bantenese population for whom the fast and radical recent national evolutions have to be regulated by strong local figures, such as Chasan and Embay. Many of the local elites also prefer to rely on Bantenese strongmen better than national figures, as they can catch some gains from regionally based networks.
43Publicly, the domination of informal authority networks upon politics and economy was reasserted by Embay when he commented the death of Chasan in 2011. Assisting to his funerals, he declared:
- 23 “Secara pribadi saya orang paling dekat dengan almarhum. Beliau adalah orang yang paling besar jasa (...)
Personally, I am the closest to him. He is the man who has given the largest contribution to the development of Banten. Hopefully, later will appear in Banten other figures like him.23
44This declaration, from the direct rival of Chasan, shows that in this context, if the discourses are not analyzed in link with their socio-cultural roots of enunciation they can be understood as contradictory. Concerning Banten—where a regional paradigm of authority prevails upon politics and entrepreneurship—we observe that the ideology promoted by local strongmen is far more determined by the interpersonal relations between the members of the politico-economic elite and the contextual necessities that are faced by the civil society, than by official institutions and the state Constitution.