Religious Guardian of the Constitution
Nobody foresaw that Wahiduddin Adams, who had started his career in bureaucracy, would end up being a firm guardian of the Constitution. His humble, religious, and straightforward character led him to where he is now. Wahid acknowledged that his success was driven by hard work, prayer, and support from his beloved family.
Humble Yet Religious
The eldest son of H. Adam Sulaiman and Hj. Sofiah Gani spent his childhood in Sakatiga, a small cillage in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatera. His parents instilled religious education in him and put him in Islamic schools starting from middle school.
“My father wanted me to attend Islamic school, while my brother attended public school. I studied in an Islamic school in Sakatiga until senior high school. I would learn general studies in the morning and religious studies in the afternoon, for six years,” he reminisced.
He continued his education in the sharia faculty of the State Islamic Institute of Jakarta. To quench his thirst of knowledge, Wahid completed his doctoral degree in same university. Afterward, he even earned a bachelor degree of law from Muhammadiyah University in 2005.
Wahid was raised in a humble family that prioritized education. His father worked at the subdistrict office while his mother and grandfather were teachers. “I see (my parents) work with passion, being steadfast in their prayers. Alhamdulillah (thank God), my siblings and I received good education,” he said.
Wahid learned from his parents about trust—a principle that he applies in every activity he committed himself to—including when he worked at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights as director-general of legislation. Not only his parents but also his wife and three children are always supportive of everything he chooses to step into.
“My wife and children are my motivation and inspiration. My wife always reminds me to work hard and smart with passion and sincerity. My children are also supportive despite having a busy father,” he said.
Bureaucrat Turned Independent
The change from civil service to guarding the Constitution was not easy. It took a lot of adjustments, including adopting the attitude of a judge. Wahid can no longer submit to bureaucracy, as he has to be independent in fulfilling the mandate he has been given.
Stoic Wahid was active in organizations. He headed the National Committee of Indonesian Youth (KNPI) for three years, be in the central advisory board of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), headed Nahdlatul Ulama’s executive board (PBNU) of waqf and land, and was deputy secretary of the National Zakat Board (BAZNAS), among others.
When questioned about his independence by the House’s justice selection committee, he convinced them that he would be able to deal with the restrictions required of a constitutional justice. “In bureaucracy, the network is vast and open, while everything is focused and judicative [in the Court]. Contrary to the fluid relationship in bureaucracy where all ministries and agencies interact, [the Court’s] communication with the outer world is faced with restrictions and is limited by the Constitution and the Constitutional Court Law,” he said.
Nonetheless, his recent post as the director-general of legislation has many things in common with a constitutional justice. “The benchmark is similar: the 1945 Constitution. Everything [in lawmaking] must not go against the Constitution, while the Court reviews House-drafted laws against the 1945 Constitution,” he added.
Exploring Every Corner of the Constitutional Court
As the Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ director-general of legislation, Wahid often attended hearings in the Constitutional Court on behalf of the president. Aside from giving testimony in such hearings, he once represented the ministry in an authority dispute between the president, the House, and the Audit Board. “I often came to the Constitutional Court and met the constitutional justices for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights,” he said.
Now his legal career is complete. He had never imagined that he’d be the first director-general of legislation who became a constitutional justice. He actually planned to teach at Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University after retirement. Alas, fate decided otherwise.