Subject: Wiranto: Sydney Morning Herald Twists McCarthy's Comments

Detikworld, November 23, 2000

Wiranto: Sydney Morning Herald Twists McCarthy's Comments

Reporter: Djoko Tjiptono / BI & GB

Jakarta - Former Indonesian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Gen. Wiranto has answered claims by the outgoing Australian Ambassador that he had 'broad knowledge' of the destruction and intimidation in East Timor last year by telling the Indonesian public that they are embroiled in an 'information war'. He said The Sydney Morning Herald had twisted McCarthy's comments on the East Timor case.

"At the moment there has occurred a change in the paradigms of war. The new paradigms that have appeared are psychological war and information war," said Wiranto to reporters after attending the International Congress of Free Indonesian Workers' Unions in Jakarta, Thursday (23/11/2000).

He said that that in the event of global competition where the orientation is the economy, psychological warfare and information warfare were the most effective and suitable means to win. "It is possible that you won't see mass warfare anymore because that type of warfare is no longer popular and invites criticism," said Wiranto.

It is no longer a secret that significant elements of the international community want to see senior Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) officers fully investigated and tried for the destruction, intimidation and mass killings in East Timor in relation to the referendum on independence in August last year. Wiranto has not been named as a suspect in the court case to be held by Indonesia next January. However, Mr. James Dunn, the UN-appointed "special rapporteur" on war crimes in East Timor, said earlier in the week that he has uncovered new evidence that senior Indonesian military officials "actively directed and organised" the political violence.

At the seminar Thursday, Wiranto was arguing it was all in the reporting. The problem, according to Wiranto, is that people are unaware that they are already entangled in these types of psychological warfare and information warfare. This occurs, he said, because the character of the two types of warfare were very subtle. "We even adopt and develop them," Wiranto said grinning.

Wiranto's comments come after relations between Australia and Indonesia went through yet another rough patch. Last Monday, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported that the Australian Ambassador John McCarthy had stated that Wiranto had 'broad knowledge' of the attacks in East Timor and that there was an international expectation that he should be punished.

Then, last Tuesday (21/11/2000) McCarthy and fellow embassy staff were approached by a group of 10 - 15 East Timorese refugees in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and several of the party, though not McCarthy, were struck.

Wiranto had been in Makassar promoting his album of nationalistic and love songs, 'Untukmu Indonesiaku' (For You, My Indonesia), the day before the incident and several media in Australia proposed the idea that there may be a connection between the two.

Wiranto immediately took exception to the Ambassador's comments. On Wednesday (22/11/2000), Wiranto told journalists that he deeply regretted the comments.

"I regret the attitude of a diplomat who must know and be able to restrain himself because the UN has already fully handed over the charges of human rights violations in East Timor to be resolved in accordance with Indonesian law," Wiranto said.

He further said that, although he had not read the reports on the Ambassador's comments, there must be something to it. "There's no smoke without fire on McCarthy saying that. It really hurts me because I have already gone through the legal processes. I have stood down, been examined and changed my profession to become a singer, still I'm still the centre of all this fuss," he said.

By Thursday, however, Wiranto said the Ambassador had never made the comments in the first place and that he wished to alert the Indonesian public about the perils of the new paradigms of psychological warfare and information warfare.

"I don't want to get emotional, I checked that statement. And this morning through (McCarthy's) staff, they said that he never said anything about it. What was quoted is not right. So there's manipulation at The Sydney Morning Herald," Wiranto said adding that if people are careless it could corner them in an argument.

Besides regretting that they were involved in a kind of information war, Wiranto also said that he regretted the fact that his name was always linked to all kinds of nasty incidents such as bomb explosions, the attack on the Australian Ambassador and the ongoing disappearance of former President Suharto's youngest son 'Tommy' - in hiding for nearly three weeks now.

"If there's something terrible, I'm always involved. But I'm happen because it means I'm an important person," said Wiranto.

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