Subject: JP: Juwono: U.S. NGOs Malign the TNI - 'It's the Human Rights Industry' [+JP]

also: JP: Democracy and Foreign Policy: Outlook for 2005

Tempo excerpt/Juwono Sudarsono Interview: In the eyes of the US, is the TNI really bad.?

I also ask, when will the TNI stop being maligned? It is the NGOs in the US that keep on criticizing the TNI. They are already one industry; it's called the 'human rights industry,' the 'environmental group industry' and the 'minorities industry.' At one point, the work of the NGOs is admirable, but there is a time when they are stuck to the interests of foreign donors which have a whole agenda of their own.

Tempo Dec 28, 2004 - Jan 03, 2005

Interview/Juwono Sudarsono: "TNI Businesses Must Be Restructured"

HE was a cabinet minister under four presidents. And being Minister of Defense is nothing new to him.We have known Juwono Sudarsono, 64, since he was a lecturer of politics and post-graduate professor at the University of Indonesia. He holds a doctorate, which he obtained, cum laude, from the prestigious London School of Economics in 1978.

The academic world is big, but Juwono is needed for something even bigger. At first Suharto appointed him as Environment Minister. Then he served under every president after that-except for Megawati Sukarnoputri. President B.J. Habibie appointed him as Education & Culture Minister, while President Abdurrahman Wahid made him Minister of Defense. He held the honor of being the first civilian to head the Defense Department.

Juwono has been a lecturer and a diplomat, but never a military officer. He now has a special agenda: to restructure the businesses of the military. This includes placing all TNI (Indonesian Military) business units under one main enterprise, in which the shares will be sold openly. He must work hard with the outside world, at the very least to resolve two dominant issues: to end the United States arms embargo and mend the on again-off again defense relations with Australia.

The following is an interview with Juwono Sudarsono by Tempo reporters Rommy Fibri and Nurdin Kalin, with photographer Hendra Suhara, which took place last Wednesday at his office in Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta.

What are the problems faced by the Defense Department?

My predecessor was frequently ill, and he was unable to perform many of his tasks. Hence the division of authority became unclear. There was overlapping of authority between the Defense Department and the TNI Headquarters, particularly with regards to purchases of defense equipment.

What will be the focus of your agenda?

My main task will be to institutionalize a system, so that whoever comes after me, it will be in place. This is vital since in the near future, the TNI Headquarters will be united with the Defense Department.

What about the TNI businesses, will you be putting them in order?

The TNI businesses must be restructured. I have met with the ministers of State Enterprises, Justice & Human Rights and the TNI commander to discuss TNI-owned businesses. We concluded that it would be appropriate to have them all come under one main enterprise and then offer its shares at an open sale. Then it would be more transparent.

What is the objective of such a restructuring?

Apart from covering the deficit in the defense budget, the policy is intended to increase the welfare of the troops. The best example comes from Thailand. They have a good management concept. They have a bank and a television station whose shares are owned by the military. In Indonesia there is Artha Graha, but its management must be more transparent. Profits should be divided among the low-ranked soldiers, not just retired senior officers. So the most important thing is transparency, good management and to aim it at lower-rank troops.

Are the officers ready to implement such a policy?

The retired officers are very supportive. They are aware that the dividend and profits from those foundations must be given to the soldiers. Those who need convincing are the currently active officers. The problem is that these games have been going on for decades. Now that it's their turn, they're not getting any of the benefits.

How would you deal with that problem?

I will challenge them into pioneering a system of good governance. They must also think more about the low-rank soldiers. And more importantly, if they want to be professional soldiers, they must free themselves of any business interests.

Are you convinced this will succeed?

It will be tough, because the seniors have had the chance to enjoy their share. I heard this has been going on for 20 years. We can't let the situation remain unchanged. We will certainly not make immediate drastic changes, but go in stages.

About the purchase of military equipment: the party authorized to manage this is clearly spelled out in the Defense Law. In practice, however, there are always conflicts between the Defense Department and the TNI?

Last month I met with the TNI commander and his chief of staff, and we agreed to a new method of dealing with policies like this one. In the next two years the mechanism over the acquisition of equipment will be a lot clearer. All must go through one door, starting from its planning and bidding to the final agreement on the acquisition.

To date, the Department of Defense and each of the forces would submit their own acquisition. The impression has been that anyone can budget and buy its own military equipment. We must put this system in order so that we can be accountable, rational and efficient.

Why do you need two years to achieve it?

This is because the process needs time for adjustment. Even now TNI HQ doesn't know what each of the forces want. Take the acquisition of fighter jets or battleships, what the TNI HQ have may differ from that planned by the navy. So far it's been chaotic, each going his own way.

We want all to come under one chain of command. If we can do this quickly, so much the better. But I think we need a transition time of two years. And actually the minister's decision on this is there. We just need to escort the transition process in each of the forces and within the Defense Department.

So, who actually holds the authority to decide on purchases of military equipment?

The Defense Department makes the final decision and the policy on all acquisitions and payments by the state in the field of defense.

What about the third parties that have been involved in the military weapons business?

There are too many of them. Even too many officials are involved. Each of them has their own partners. The purchase procedure should look into the needs and the ability for their maintenance. For instance, when we buy an aircraft, we should find out first whether we actually need it; is it appropriate with conditions in Indonesia and with other military equipment; and whether the factory will be around for many more years. If the object is almost extinct, why should we buy it? Better to look for another that is sustainable, from a factory that has a long-term existence.

I have asked the Inspector-General of the Defense Department and the TNI Headquarters to track down officials who have good links with arms brokers. I know some of them communicate intensively with those brokers. We are putting this in order.

Including cutting out the markups that often happen during acquisitions of military equipment?

Hopefully so, because this is a battle between the effective capability of the government and the 'lure' of the brokers.

Some time ago, there was a great eagerness to submit the files of the Scorpion purchase to the Corruption Eradication Commission.

I would like to demonstrate that a government official must treat the budget with care, because this is the people's money. I would like to build the entire armed forces according to their actual functions, and that is to provide the public with defense services. This would also mean providing the nation's security.

On defense relations between Indonesia and the United States. What is the status now?

Actually our relations are good, we just have some baggage from the past. First, the events of East Timor of September 1999, when our officers were accused of committing gross human rights violations. Secondly, the Timika incident in August 2002, when American citizens were killed, presumably by members of the TNI.

Is that the reason why the Americans have not revoked the arms embargo?

They are still placing an embargo on lethal weapons. But they have revised their decision regarding training and other forms of non-lethal cooperation. I plan to visit there in March 2005 to convince the US that we are not like the what they accuse us of. Just because of the East Timor event, they consider the entire military to be that way. That cannot be.

How big is our dependence on the US?

We are still very dependent on military equipment that is linked to our avionic system.

The government has been criticized for its difficulty in looking away from the US. Is it that difficult to look elsewhere?

The system in the US requires a check and balance system between the executive and the legislative, specifically on weapons sold to allies and to friends. Because we are not allies, we do not get the same treatment as Thailand or Singapore. But I will tell them just because a few senior officers were accused of human rights violations, the entire TNI should not be blamed.

In the eyes of the US, is the TNI really bad.?

I also ask, when will the TNI stop being maligned? It is the NGOs in the US that keep on criticizing the TNI. They are already one industry; it's called the 'human rights industry,' the 'environmental group industry' and the 'minorities industry.' At one point, the work of the NGOs is admirable, but there is a time when they are stuck to the interests of foreign donors which have a whole agenda of their own.

You seem to be optimistic about this?

The important thing is that I carry out my job first. I am not a person who carries dollars so I can share it with them. I will say, I am a civilian entrusted by retired military generals to manage the defense business. They must know that this is the dynamics of the new democracy in Indonesia.

But why is the government not looking at other, more attractive markets?

There are other markets, but they are black markets. And they are expensive, take a lot of profit. This black market operates on demand, so they can control the process. Many of them are based in Singapore, Africa, the Middle East and other places. In fact, during the Indo Defense Exhibition last month, I was visited by many of those 'salesmen,' among them a few ambassadors.

I would like to build a defense system that uses sensible calculations, not ruled by emotions. We must be smart in calculating the cost-benefit of doing business with countries other than the United States. We shouldn't be lured by the persuasion of countries which only want to profit from our bad relations with the US. And our relations with Australia, why is it on again, off again?

Actually, there are no major problems between us, because Australia knows well the low capability of our military equipment. They are targeting more towards domestic defense.

Recently, particularly after the bombings and acts of terrorism, many countries seem to want to help us-some would even say intervene in Indonesia's defense and security policies. As Defense Minister, what do you say?

I already said, the initiative to take action against terrorism must come from the Indonesian government. And that is not out of pressure or on orders from Washington, Canberra or even London. The terrorism issue has its roots on injustice inside the country, which is corruption and manipulation. And the fundamental message is the demand for justice. But they misuse and manipulate Islam teachings to justify the use of force to bring justice in Indonesia.

Do those countries want to intervene because our law enforcement and security are weak?

Better to regard ourselves in the wrong and take a step back, due to our own awareness, rather than do something big on the orders of the US. On assistance that is non-military in nature, there is no problem, so long as they don't send troops to Indonesia.

Western countries regard Indonesia as a nest of terrorists. Hasn't there been any attempt to clarify this?

We say that Indonesia is also a victim of terrorism. Indonesia is not safe from terrorism. But we are also aware that the root of terrorism is injustice.

Juwono Sudarsono

Place & Date of Birth:

Ciamis, West Java, March 5, 1942


Faculty of Law & Public Communications, University of Indonesia, Jakarta (1965) Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands (1969) University of California, Berkeley, USA (MA, 1970) London School of Economics, UK (PhD, 1978) Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA (1985)


Head, Political Science Department (1973-1975), University of Indonesia Head, International Relations Department (1985-to date), University of Indonesia Guest professor, Columbia University, New York, USA (1986-1987) Professor, University of Indonesia (1988-to date) Dean, Political Science Department, University of Indonesia (1988-1994) Deputy Governor of National Defense Institute State Minister for Environmental Affairs, Development Cabinet VII of President Suharto (1997-1998) Minister of Education & Culture (May 1998-October 1999) Minister of Defense, (October 1999-August 2000) Ambassador to the United Kingdom, (June 12, 2003-October 2004)


The Jakarta Post Thursday, December 30, 2004

Opinion/Outlook 2005

Democracy and Foreign Policy: Outlook for 2005

Bantarto Bandoro, Jakarta

It is no secret that foreign policy issues have always been external to the mainstream agenda of our national policy, particularly when Indonesia is bogged down by a series of domestic problems while in the midst of becoming a more stable and democratic country.

But many, here and abroad, will not forget the peaceful general elections this year, which can at least serve as a kind of modality for the country to be more prominent in its international standing. It is because of this peaceful event that Indonesia was lauded highly by the international community.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda even said that Indonesia's democratic process will be a significant contribution to foreign policy and diplomacy, in that it will stimulate the country to play a more active regional and international role, as reported in the Oct. 22 edition of Kompas.

Meanwhile, the change in the national leadership to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has raised hopes for a much more stable and respected Indonesia. The program introduced by Susilo, as well as his profile, has helped erase skepticism that the country will move at a snail's pace in its economic and political development.

His 100-day program is quite impressive, particularly because of the neglect -- at least in the public's view -- of the previous regime in providing such a program. Susilo is making a political transition toward a full democracy at an opportune time to rebuild public trust, domestically and internationally.

The eventful year is only the beginning of a very long process toward a full-fledged Indonesian democracy, one that will guarantee not only the country's diplomacy and its international position and credibility, but also the overall fulfillment of domestic needs.

Close observation of our political transition, particularly in relation to international relations as an academic discipline, shows that there is no issue that is as appropriate as the relationship between democracy and foreign policy. As such, the formerly prevailing notion that foreign policy is separate from domestic politics is no longer valid.

The government seems to be taking its best shot at how domestic development would be beneficial to the future of our international diplomacy. If one acknowledges that foreign policy is an extension of domestic politics, then domestic politics should not stonewall the potential achievements of foreign policy and international diplomacy.

If the country does not manage democracy in accordance with a long-term vision, then there is simply no way that it would be an important factor to foreign policy. The message sent by our successful democratic transition is one that underlines our strong adherence to the democratic principles governing international relations.

The current foreign policy initiatives of Indonesia seem to reflect the government's attempt to emphasize the democratic outlook, in a way that has never been done before. The participation of our president in international summits, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summits, his bilateral talks on such occasions and plans to hold an Asia-Africa summit are activities that explain the relevance of our election year to future international relations.

As the new leader of the world's third largest democracy -- which also has the largest Muslim population -- Susilo is bound to prove to the world that Islam and democracy can work in tandem in creating a stable Indonesia. It is important that the empowering moderate Islam as a national asset be a key focus of our foreign policy.

It is within this broad context of democratization that Indonesia is bidding for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

With its relative success in this first stage of democratization, Indonesia should be able to speak with greater authority and confidence when addressing issues like democracy, religious tolerance, terrorism and people trafficking. This is indeed in keeping with our Constitutional mandate that Indonesia play an active and independent role in promoting global peace and prosperity. The sheer size of the Indonesian population dictates that we should be more active in determining the course of global development.

Susilo's understanding of foreign policy and its domestic implications extends beyond the summit, as indicated in his recent request to our diplomats that they help the government improve Indonesia's bad image. He was reported as saying in the Dec. 14 online version of The Jakarta Post that we should restore our dignity, both domestically and overseas.

The president also seems to be aware of the connection between foreign policy and endemic corruption, with its current rank among the world's most corrupt countries.

Indonesia does not want to be seen as ignorant of the possible impact of corruption on regional stability and our regional policy, because corruption also facilitates transnational crimes; it has a corrosive effect on the country's credibility, as well.

Continued corruption and weakness will certainly result in domestic instability through high vulnerability to other crimes, such as drug and people trafficking. However, because its citizens are the ultimate victims of corruption, they will continue to pressure the government to fight corruption more effectively.

An unresponsive government will certainly incite more aggressive behavior from the public that will rattle the government as well as domestic security. In turn, regional stability will be affected significantly: Regional confidence in Indonesia will erode if it fails to perform a pivotal role in regional security. Susilo's request to our diplomats is thus understandable, because they are our standard-bearers on the international scene.

The government must recognize that if it does nothing about corruption, Indonesia will lose what little competitive advantage it has against other countries. Simply put, corruption weakens the country's capacity to enhance its international and regional diplomacy and compete in the international marketplace.

Rule of law and the Susilo administration's anticorruption drive should be made central to our foreign policy, so as to promote confidence in governmental institutions.

Here we see that the success of our democratic process should help alleviate the perception that we are corrupt country. This, however, can be done only if our foreign policy is geared to protecting our democracy and seeking foreign cooperation to lend additional weight to our fight against corruption, as well as to rebuild the economy.

Our foreign policy outlook in 2005 should not only focus on fighting corruption, terrorism or improving our image abroad, however; it must, of course, be more than the sum of these parts, because it must be one that will prevent this ship from sinking. It is thus imperative that foreign policy be given a special place in national discourse. Only through such a process can our diplomats gain better understanding and insight into our priorities in future foreign policy.

The success of our democratic transition and its contribution to foreign policy has set forth a new chapter in the history of Indonesia's international relations.

As John Lewis Gaddis wrote in his paper Diplomacy and Foreign Policy (2001), historians of future centuries will remember a significant policy about the one through which we have lived.

The writer is editor of The Indonesian Quarterly of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and a lecturer of the International Relations Post Graduate Studies Program at the School of Social and Political Sciences, the University of Indonesia. He can be contacted at

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