Amien Rais

Muhammad Amien Rais (born 26 April 1944) is an Indonesian politician.[1][2] He was one of the leaders of the reform movement that forced the resignation of President Suharto in 1998.[3][4] Amien Rais was the leader of Muhammadiyah, one of the two biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, from 1995 to 2000. He was the Chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) from 1999 to 2004. During his chairmanship, the MPR passed a series of amendments to the Constitution of Indonesia. These amendments, among other things, established direct presidential elections, a presidential term limit (two terms), and the Constitutional Court.[5]

Amien Rais
Amien Rais's 2004 president candidate portrait
Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly
In office
30 September 1999  1 October 2004
Preceded byHarmoko
Succeeded byHidayat Nur Wahid
Personal details
Muhammad Amien Rais

(1944-04-26) 26 April 1944
Surakarta, Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies
Political party
SpouseKusnasriyati Sri Rahayu
  • Ahmad Hanafi Rais
  • Hanum Salsabiela Rais
  • Ahmad Mumtaz Rais
  • Tasniem Fauzia Rais
  • Ahmad Baihaqy Rais
Alma mater


Amien Rais was born in Surakarta, Central Java, as the second child of Suhud Rais and Sudalmiyah. The couple were Muhammadiyah activists in Surakarta. Suhud Rais graduated from Muhammadiyah's Mualimin high school. He worked in Surakarta's religion affairs office. He also was a member of Muhammadiyah's Board of Education in the Surakarta chapter. Sudalmiyah was an activist in Aisyiyah, a Muhammadiyah's women organization and had been its chairperson for 20 years. She graduated from Muhammadiyah's teaching school 'Hogere Indlansche Kweekschool'. She was a member of Masyumi party in the 1950s. She was awarded 'The Central Java Best Mother' in 1985.[6]

Activities in Muhammadiyah and ICMI

After his studies in the United States, he was a Middle East specialist and was noted for being a critic of US foreign policy. Controversially, Rais learned a lot about human rights and democracy in the US. Amien Rais' activities in Muhammadiyah began in 1985 when he led The Council of Preacher (Majelis Tabligh). Later in 1990, Rais was vice chairman elected in a convention (muktamar) in Yogyakarta. Amien Rais was also active in the newly established Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), a Muslim scholars association. Rais led ICMI's Expert Council, but resigned in 1997 under pressure from Suharto because he argued on the Busang and the Freeport cases. In 1995, Rais replaced Azhar Basyir, then the chairman of Muhammadiyah, who died soon after his re-election. In 1993, at a Muhammadiyah mid-term meeting (Tanwir) in Surabaya, Rais urged a presidential succession, a very rare issue amid the New Order regime. The political and economical decay in Indonesia during the 90s had Rais call for a controversial issue: political reform. Amien Rais' calls were one of the many catalysts that led to the eventual downfall of the New Order regime. This made him enemy number one for the Suharto administration.[7]

Political career

In 1998, Amien Rais became an outspoken critic, and allied himself with the reform movement. However, this would also force the New Order regime to ban any demonstration reflecting the people's voice regarding Reformasi. In May 1998, Jakarta was in chaos following rioting in some parts of the city. The army and the police forces were unable to handle the situation. Meanwhile, President Suharto embarked on a state visit to Cairo, Egypt. Upon his return from Cairo, Suharto learned that the situation was out of control. Several days later, he invited some prominent Muslim figures – including Abdurrahman Wahid, Emha Ainun Najib, Nurcholish Madjid and Malik Fajar – to discuss the nation's current condition. Suharto proposed to establish a Reform Committee, to reshuffle the cabinet ministers and to resign from the presidency within 6 months. This was not responded to by those who attended the meeting. Suharto panicked as 14 of his ministers resigned from the cabinet. On May 20, Amien Rais cancelled the mass rally to Monas square as an army general threatened to make "another Tiananmen" should he do so. Less than 24 hours later, Suharto resigned from his office and was replaced by Vice President B.J. Habibie. Habibie had previously lived in Aachen, Germany.

Amien Rais and other reformists established the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional/PAN) on August 6, 1998.[8] Amien Rais was elected its first chairman with Faisal Basri as secretary general. Therefore, his position in Muhammadiyah was replaced by vice chairman Ahmad Syafi'i Maarif. PAN gained 6 percent of the vote in the 1999 election but failed to nominate Rais as a presidential candidate. However, political compromise allowed Amien to lead the People Consultative Assembly (MPR). As a king maker, Amien Rais and other Islam parties and Golkar elected Abdurrahman Wahid as president and Megawati Sukarnoputri as vice president. Amien Rais was also a leading figure in the Indonesian constitution amendment process.[9]

Amien Rais ran and lost in the 2004 presidential election. He and running mate Siswono Yudohusodo were nominated by PAN, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and some small political parties, and finished in the fourth place with 15% of the vote.

Amien Rais is currently the Chairman of PAN's Advisory Board, Muhammadiyah's Advisory Board, and is a professor at Gadjah Mada University. One of the founders of PAN, Abdillah Toha criticized him for his controversial statements and inconsistencies on many issues including his support on changing local elections to be indirect, and called him a "traitor of the Reform".[10]

In a corruption scandal trial of a former health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, Amien Rais was reported to have received funds related the case. He admitted that he had received the funds but then accused the Corruption Eradication Commission of being an incompetent organization.[11][12]

On October 1, 2020, he formed a new party called Ummah Party (Indonesian: Partai Ummat), which he claimed to "work and fight with fellow countrymen against tyranny and injustice".[13] Deputy chairman of PAN, Viva Yoga Mauladi, confirmed Amien's departure from the party.[14] Before leaving PAN, he was involved in internal rift with fellow party politicians over support for Jokowi's administration.[15]


  1. "Amien Rais prepares new party amid PAN internal rift". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  2. "Parpol Islam Terbesar Era Soekarno Dekati Amien Rais, Mau Menyatu dengan 'Saudara' PAN". Warta Ekonomi (in Indonesian). 15 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  3. Eklof, Stefan (2 June 2004). Power and Political Culture in Suharto's Indonesia: The Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) and the Decline of the New Order (1986–98). Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-30368-6.
  4. Vatikiotis, Michael R. J. (1998). Indonesian Politics Under Suharto: The Rise and Fall of the New Order. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-20501-6.
  5. Mydans, Seth (20 October 1999). "Stung by Debate, Indonesian Leader Ends Election Bid". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  6. Suryadinata, Leo (2002). Elections and Politics in Indonesia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 978-981-230-121-5.
  7. VIVA, PT VIVA MEDIA BARU- (3 April 2017). "Profil Amien Rais – VIVA". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  8. hermesauto (1 April 2019). "Indonesia votes: Which parties are competing for Parliament seats?". The Straits Times. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  9. "People power is dead, long live people power". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  10. Mardani. "Pendiri PAN kritik Amien Rais, jangan jadi pengkhianat Reformasi |". Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  11. "Amien Rais ready to explain Rp 600m from Soetrisno Bachir". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  12. "KPK refuses to meet Amien Rais". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  13. Ghaliya, Ghina (1 October 2020). "PAN patron Amien Rais declares new party". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  14. Gorbiano, Marchio Irfan; Ghaliya, Ghina (2 October 2020). "In leading Ummah, Amien Rais breaks ties with PAN". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  15. Ghaliya, Ghina (15 May 2020). "Amien Rais prepares new party amid PAN internal rift". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
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