We can see the misguided use of logic, if logic exists, when the police officially named Palti Panjaitan, pastor of HKBP Filadelfia church, as suspect. The report of 2012 Christmas Eve minor assault filed by the “victim” Abdul Aziz is a blatant falsification of reason. Almost every national television stations showed that HKBP Filadelfia congregation was doused with sewage water and animal waste that night. The evidence showing Panjaitan’s innocence is accessible on the cyber world. They seemed too evident to be ignored by the Bekasi Police. On the videos, we can see that a group of people were threatening Panjaitan, either by body language or hate speech on speakers used to disrupt the services. However, on March 22nd, the Bekasi Police has called Panjaitan for questioning as a suspect. Something is definitely very wrong, how can the victim the suspect?

Aristotle the philosopher uses deduction theory in his syllogism. According to him, deduction is “Speech (logos) in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from those supposed results of necessity because of their being so” (Prior Analytics I.2). Deduction logic is highly respected by Immanuel Kant and widely followed by the Arab world tradition and the Medieval Latin language tradition. From Aristotle, we learn more about this inference. A common theory is that if we have a major premise “man is mortal” and a minor premise “Aristotle is a human being,” the conclusion would be that “Aristotle is mortal.” This formula is regarded as an astounding idea on how to draw conclusions from the two existing premises.

Panjaitan’s call up as a suspect is a banal logical mistake that is too obvious to be ignored. Why?

First, let us try to summarize what has happened that night. The Bekasi Police members were present on the night of the incident. We can see it in the video footage, both by television stations and amateur videos. However, the “victim” decides to report the incident later on, with the testimony of members of their own group, with no physical evidence to support, or post mortem injuries. Twelve witnesses of the group Abdul Aziz claimed to have seen the “minor assault.” Based on the complaint and testimonies, Panjaitan is named as a suspect. If we apply Aristotelian syllogism here, we can say that the police seems to use a major premise “A claimed to have been assaulted by B” and minor premise “12 people saw A was assaulted by B” and draws the conclusion that “A was persecuted by B.” According to Aristotle, to arrive at a logical conclusion, the major premise must be universal, and the terms that appear as object in the major premise should become the subject in the minor premise. Since there is no universal premise, then “A claimed to have been assaulted by B” cannot be the major premise, thus it renders the resulting conclusions. The witnessing of 12 people alone does not make a statement arrive at a logical conclusion. Because of this, the police will always need other evidence, which does not appear in the early examination of the case. If such misguided syllogism is used by the police, then any person can become a suspect of any assault as long as there are witnesses (even from the same side of the so-called “victim”). Without any physical evidence and further investigation, a complaint cannot be addressed let alone establish a person as a suspect.
Second, the police apparently took the report seriously. By way of how the Bekasi Police responded to the case, if there is, let say, group A who do not like group B, then group A can disturb and harass group B, and still report them to the police. Based on the reports filed by group A, the police will set the group B as suspect. If any “A dislike B” followed by “A file a report on B” arrives at the conclusion “B is guilty,” is just a plain error of reasoning from every aspect.

This misguided reasoning shows how easy the Bekasi police considered one side as suspect because of another group’s complaints. If the police use the right principles of the investigation, the two conflicted groups will be brought together and examined as witness, as happened in the Indonesian socialite cases Nikita Mirzani and Obilia Maesandy, or Diego Michiels and Meff Paripurna.

The normal process that should be applied to every case is the call to all parties as witnesses and to examine all evidences. The evidence of Panjaitan’s case can be found on the internet. Police have used internet evidence in the investigation of Anas Urbaningrum and Muhammad Nazaruddin alleged corruption case. However, because of either the plain ignorance of the existence of video evidences, or the full trust given to Aziz’s filed complaint; the police have named Panjaitan as a suspect.

The case of “making the victim a suspect” has happened before. A member of GKI Yasmin in Bogor also was reported to the police by Bogor municipal police Chief Bambang Budiyanto in October 2011. The complaint was subsequently not proven and withdrawn.

The government has not given any clear comment upon the various intolerance cases in Indonesia recently. Indonesian seemed to be tolerant towards the intolerant. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that destruction occurred not because of the loud voice of the extremists, but because of the silence of the moderates. Little concern has been raised on the tension escalation between religious groups. The President did not seem to be bothered to issue a statement by the church services that were conducted in front of the President’s Palace. President Yudhoyono was obviously too busy taking care of the Democrat Party that are caught in various corruption cases, and at the same time is on auto pilot mode for such religious intolerant related cases. While this happens, the President goes on to promote how tolerant the religious life of Indonesia to the outside world. Inter-religious dialogue at the elite level as a sign of harmony in Indonesia continues, while various conflicts on grass-root level are being ignored.

If the misguided logic that the Bekasi police used continues, we can only become pessimistic about the possibility of justice in the land of Pancasila. Unprofessional response and one-sided behavior of the Police force will decrease the trust of the people in the current legal system. Weak and unjust law enforcement eventually will encourage the people to have their own style of “law enforcement.” Let’s hope, the Bekasi police will return to the correct logical thinking and uphold the law so that this case can be resolved in a peaceful manner.


Binsar J. Pakpahan. Lecturer on Philosophy and Ethics at the Jakarta Theological Seminary.


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