Information und Analyse

Jakarta’s armed forces angling for more power

300px-Tentara_Nasional_Indonesia_insignia.svg- Comment by Alex Flor in German only
- Jakarta’s armed forces angling for more power
- More analysts give thumbs-down to military bill
- TNI Chief stands by military bill


Straits Times, February 25, 2003

Jakarta’s armed forces angling for more power

Devi Asmarani, Jakarta – A controversial Bill, being drafted, isset to revive the supremacy of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and even allow its commander to declare an emergency without first seeking the President’s approval.

Many see it as a sign that the once-powerful military is capitalising on the frail and divided civilian leadership to make a comeback.

A 42-member team made up of government officials, military officers and academics has been working on the Bill for nearly two years. But progress has been slow as the team members have found it difficult to agree on some contentious articles.

One of these proposes that the TNI commander be given the authority to deploy personnel in an emergency situation and to impose an emergency status in troubled regions without prior approval of the President.

Some members have complained that the TNI clearly wants more clout for itself and its commander. Military analyst Kusnanto Anggoro, who is on the team, told The Straits Times that he felt there was a strong view within the army “that it must be given discretion in emergency situations”.

Paradoxically, the Bill had originally set out to curb the military’s might and put it under the defence minister and the President, who is the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces.

But in the lengthy drafting process, the military members of the team have hijacked the discussion, overshadowing the Defence Ministry which was supposed to lead the process.

The military reportedly replaced its members on the team with more conservative officers to facilitate its agenda, a move that has caused a rift within the team.

Political analyst Arbi Sanit of the University of Indonesia warned: “The military is testing how far it can go to make a comeback because the civilian government is at a low ebb. The civilian leadership is very dependent on the military to safeguard its power in the face of mounting opposition.”

After the Suharto regime fell in 1998, anti-military sentiment was high. The TNI was then accused of having abused its territorial function to keep its grip on politics during the 32 years of the administration. But observers said that since President Megawati Sukarnoputri took office in 2001, the military has been making a quiet comeback.

The hardliners have been revving up to revive the military’s role in maintaining domestic security, which was handed to the police in 2000.

Last week, the Army Chief of Staff said the country’s security problems required the TNI to take on a greater role in the domestic security. General Ryamizard Ryacudu suggested that Indonesia’s unique situation would require the TNI to take a greater role in “preventing the country from disintegrating”.

Jockeying, in turn, to consolidate its position, the police leadership is continuing efforts to convince the public that the cops alone were up to the task of keeping order within the country and that the TNI should concentrate on defence.

Supporting the TNI’s claim, Mr Sudjati Djiwandono, an analyst for the think tank Ridep Institute, pointed out: “In most countries, it is the military that has the capability to tackle emergency situations. But since its split from the police, the military has been in a dilemma because it has no role in domestic security.

The Bill once passed should resolve this problem.”

Former TNI chief of general affairs Agus Wijoyo, however, said it was unlikely that the military was trying to make a comeback. He told The Straits Times: “We are in a transitional stage of developing a new system, which often creates ambivalent and confusing situations. But the cost and the risk are too high to return to the way things were.”


The Jakarta Post, February 25, 2003

More analysts give thumbs-down to military bill

Tiarma Siboro and Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta — Two more military analysts have criticized the draft law on the military currently being prepared by the government, saying the bill, which gives more power to the military, could jeopardize democracy.

Daniel Sparringa of Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, said the bill was a reflection of the generals’ distaste for civilian supremacy over the military.

“It is a setback to the ongoing democratization process, which makes the military subordinate to civilians. Therefore, all policies on the military, including the deployment of personnel anywhere in the country, must beregulated by the state,” he told The Jakarta Post by telephone on Monday.

He acknowledged that the military had monopolized three concepts: Pancasila as the state’s single ideology, the unitary state and nationhood.

Daniel was commenting on Article 19 of the draft law giving the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief authority to deploy personnel in emergencies without the need for presidential approval.

Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a military analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), criticized the draft law on Sunday, saying it contravened the 1945 Constitution and democratic principles.

Salim Said, another military observer, concurred and said that according to the Constitution, the president in his/her capacity as head of state was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces — Army, Navy and Air Force — and the only party allowed to declare war.

“Based on our Constitution, the military must comply with political decisions made by the state [represented by the government and the Houseof Representatives]. Thus the president is the supreme commander of the military. This also includes the deployment of armed forces.

“So, it is quite ridiculous if the TNI commander is allowed to deploy personnel without any approval from the president, for whatever reason,” Salim told the Post.

Separately, the secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Vice Marshall Suprihadi, said the ministry had set up a team to review the bill, which has been handed over to the state secretariat.

Declining to directly comment on the controversial issues, Suprihadi said that power over the armed forces was still in the hands of president. He added that the government was determined to have the bill passed intolaw this year.

Earlier, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu voiced a controversial demand for the Army’s possible return to its former functions in security matters, in addition to the defense function.

Commenting to Ryamizard’s statement, Salim said that he could not blame the Army should it demand a greater role in maintaining security at home, but stressed that all things concerning the military should be determined by the government and the House of Representatives (read: civilians).


The Jakarta Post, February 28, 2003

TNI Chief stands by military bill

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite strong criticism from various sides, the Indonesian Military( TNI) commander Gen. Endriartono Sutarto insisted that the military had no plans to review a bill that would give the TNI commander authority to deploy the armed forces in an emergency without the necessity of seeking approval from the president.

Instead, Endriartono defied the critics, saying that even without the legislation, the military could launch a coup at any time it wanted to.

He called on the public not to be suspicious of the bill because, referring to Article 19 of the bill, the TNI commander had the authority to deploy military personnel anywhere in the country in an emergency if the president, vice president or a triumvirate of the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense, were not available.

“Currently, there are more than a hundred thousand military personnel deployed in numerous regions across the country. Does that mean that I’m going to launch a coup against the legitimate government?,” Endriartono said.

He said he would be available to give a full clarification to the House of Representatives during the reading of the bill if he was requested to do so.

The armed forces bill, which was prepared by the military-dominated Ministry of Defense, drew sharp criticism from a number of political analysts, legal experts and human rights activists when it was first made publiclast week.

The critics called on the House of Representatives to be alert to the various contentious issues in the bill as it threatened the country’s nascent democracy, and civilian governance.

Endriartono said further that the bill did not contradict the Constitution or the 1959 Emergency Law as the emergency troop deployment articles would only be applicable in a case where there was no other option.

“We’re not talking here about a normal situation. Do you think that we (the TNI) should await the president’s orders if a serious conflict erupts in a particular region. It’s totally different in an emergency,” Endriartono asserted.

According to the Constitution, the president in his/her capacity as TNI supreme commander has the ultimate authority to declare war and deploy military personnel to a war zone. In addition, the president has the power to impose curfews in troubled areas after gaining the approval of the House of Representatives.

The widespread criticism of the bill has much to do with Indonesia’s traumatic experience during the New Order era when the military unswer vingly supported former president Soeharto’s repressive regime.

Endriartono declined to give a detailed explanation regarding another contentious provision, Article 7, on the Army’s much-criticized territorialfunction.

“There’s nothing wrong with the article,” he said.

During the New Order era, the military (Army) abused its territorialfunction to legitimize its control over top political positions in local administrations. Almost all senior positions in the provinces and regencies were occupied by Army generals. The military used the Golkar Party as its political vehicle to monopolize these civilian posts.

The territorial function was also abused to oppress opposition groups, and extort the private sector and state-owned companies.

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