Subject: Candidates blasted over poor military reform plans

Also: AFR- Jakarta link set to improve

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

The Jakarta Post Monday, July 12, 2004

Candidates blasted over poor military reform plans

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta

Presidential candidates have been criticized for not coming up with viable plans on how to reform the politically powerful Indonesian Military (TNI).

Analysts and a former chief strategist of the TNI said on Saturday that none of the presidential candidates had given sufficient space to this issue in their campaign manifesto and were inclined to take the current relations between the civilian government and the military for granted.

"All candidates were (largely) silent on the issue and tended to sanctify the TNI's position in the present political arrangement, as if they want to take advantage of the current situation," Salim Said told a discussion held by the General Elections Commission (KPU) data center.

He said although some of the candidates had floated ideas of dissolving the TNI's territorial command, none had solutions for what to do with the TNI soldiers stationed throughout the country.

Salim said the candidates -- including those with military backgrounds -- never said at what level the TNI should be relegated to in government.

While a civilian government ruled the country and the TNI had vowed to start reforming itself from within, little had changed in the way the military performed in its daily affairs, he said.

Political analyst Andi Alfian Mallarangeng said the next administration, which would have a direct mandate from the people, should immediately start reforming the TNI.

"I think the next government should take a drastic approach by putting the TNI and the National Police under the control of the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Home Affairs respectively, so that the two security institutions would be effectively under the control of civilian authorities," he said.

Andi stressed the next government should do its best to put an end to all business practices conducted by the TNI and its individual members.

"Our military will not function well defending the country's territorial integrity if it is mired in business activities. Besides, the business only enriches the generals, while the foot soldiers continue to suffer," he said.

Former TNI chief of territorial affairs Lt. Gen. (ret) Agus Widjojo said the military would not defy attempts to put it under civilian control.

"We, the soldiers who have been trained professionally, will always bow to civilian authority. However, there has to be a clear-cut definition about our role," he told the same discussion.

Agus also called on politicians not to woo the military in their campaigns.

"Two top civilian politicians -- Amien Rais and Akbar Tandjung -- have helped pass an article in Law No. 3/2002 on defense that authorizes the TNI chief to deploy troops without presidential consent," he said

The law contradicted the state constitution, which stipulated that only the President, as the TNI supreme commander, had the right to deploy troops, he said.

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Australian Financial Review Monday, July 12, 2004

Jakarta link set to improve

Geoffrey Barker

Australians can view the still uncertain outcome of the Indonesian presidential elections with optimism, or unease. Indonesians will doubtless form a similar view of the outcome of the Australian national elections when they are held.

Given the strategic and economic importance of Indonesian-Australian relations, it is not surprising that experts in both countries are now assessing what they hope will emerge when all votes have been counted in their nations.

For Canberra, the best outcome in Indonesia would be a stable government with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (or SBY, as Indonesians call him) as president. For Jakarta, the best result would be an Australian government led by anyone but John Howard.

Neither outcome is, as yet, certain. But there is little doubt in Canberra and Jakarta that improvements in Indonesian-Australian relations will be limited while Megawati Soekarnoputri remains President and John Howard remains Australian Prime Minister.

Megawati is widely perceived in Australia as a do-nothing president who has let Indonesia drift while she has played the role of a Javanese princess.

Howard is seen in Jakarta as the man whose troops presided over Indonesia's loss of East Timor and whose record on Asian immigration and on asylum seekers has affronted Indonesian sentiment.

It is privately acknowledged in both countries that Megawati has little regard for Howard, and that Howard seems ill at ease with her.

Of course, the official line in Canberra and Jakarta is that the two governments will work to advance relations with whomever is thrown up by the democratic processes.

But it is a safe bet that Canberra was relieved when former general Wiranto, who presided over widespread violence in East Timor, came in a distant third in the first round of the Indonesian presidential poll. It is certainly pleased with SBY's position after the first-round voting.

SBY may not be the economic reformer and anti-corruption activist that Canberra would like to see in Jakarta's presidential palace, but he is regarded as a decent, well-intentioned and conservative man who, despite some troubling associations, is not hostile to Australia. His son is studying in Western Australia.

Despite Jakarta's reservations about Howard, it is not necessarily hoping for a Labor victory. Labor leader Mark Latham is largely unknown and Treasurer Peter Costello has a good reputation for his work within Apec. Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd is certainly regarded more highly than Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

For Australia, the Indonesian presidential election so far, and this year's earlier parliamentary elections, have provided reassuring if ambiguous evidence that Indonesia is moving towards stable democracy. The elections were the second democratic elections to be held since the fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998 and the first direct popular presidential elections in Indonesia's history.

There has doubtless been corruption from so-called "money politics" and widely aired problems with voting papers. But the election process has been calm and orderly and candidates have not trawled for votes by seeking to inflame radical Islamic sentiment.

It is Australia's hope that the lead-up to the second round of the presidential poll on September 20 will be similarly orderly and reassuring. That may depend on what emerges from the byzantine political dealings now under way in Indonesia and on how candidates judge the extent and power of radical Islamist sentiment in the world's largest Muslim country.

Australians inclined to optimism will be reassured by the speedy, courageous and public manner in which Indonesia pursued, prosecuted and punished the perpetrators of the Bali outrage and their leaders. They will also be reassured by the co-operation established between Indonesian authorities and Australian federal police. AFP commissioner Mick Keelty has made invaluable contributions to good relations between Australia and Indonesia.

It was, of course, in Indonesia's international interest to respond as it did after Bali, but its vigour required a political and judicial will that has not always been evident in recent years.

Moreover, the recent establishment of the Jakarta Central Law Enforcement Co-operation Centre (an event for which Megawati arrived an hour late) demonstrated Indonesia's willingness to fight transnational crimes like terrorism and trafficking in drugs and people.

It is less easy to be optimistic about Indonesia's progress towards overcoming political and institutional corruption.

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