Subject: Reform of Indonesian military still too slow: NGOs

also: Reform of the TNI - lots of homework left to do

Kompas October 5, 2007

Reform of Indonesian military still too slow: NGOs

Jakarta -- Although efforts to develop the Indonesian military or TNI and civil supremacy are continuing, the process of reform is seen as being too slow. The obstacle being encountered is that civil institutions such as the Department of Defense and the political parties are not yet prepared to implement reform within the TNI.

It is also claimed that the problem is that the budget provided to the TNI is low and this hinders efforts at internal reform of the institution.

This is of course incorrect because over the last few years the TNI's budget has continued to increase. In addition to this, these reasons are unnecessary because the president could simply issue an instruction, supporting legal proceedings being taken against TNI officers involved in crimes.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday October 3 in Jakarta by a number of non-government organisations such as the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), the groups said that the budget should not be used as grounds to delay reforming the TNI. If civil institutions fail to push for reform and professionalism within the TNI, then there are a number of agenda items will also fail to be carried out, such as the abolition of TNI businesses and resolving human rights violation and corruption involving the TNI.

HRWG coordinator Rafendi Djamin said that in order for this to happen, civil institutions need to be strengthened. The Department of Defense which is the civil movement's avant garde in developing internal reform in the TNI should be capable of developing further and not just make symbolic reforms.

Edwin from Kontras added that it is time for the domination of TNI officers in the Department of Defense to be reduced in order that a militaristic culture does not continue to develop within the organisation. It is time for various strategic positions in the institution to be handed over to civilians.

Edwin also explained that the positions of defense minister and TNI commander in chief need to be clarified further. In terms of defense strategy, the TNI commander should be place under the coordination of the defense minister.

Djamin said that the role of the defense department needs to be extended further so that it does not only discuss issues of the budget. Together with the department of foreign affairs and the House of Representatives, the defense department could discuss defense cooperation with other countries without depending upon the TNI.

On the other hand said Djamin, civil society institutions such as the political parties, must begin to relinquish their dependence on the power of the military. Such a position could little by little erode the TNI's role in practical politics. If this effort is not undertaken, it will be impossible to develop civil supremacy, including developing legal supremacy and military professionalism. (jos)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


Kompas October 5, 2007


Reform of the TNI - lots of homework left to do

By Usman Hamid

We appreciate efforts to develop the TNI's professionalism and civil supremacy that has been undertaken through various means at legislative and institutional levels.

Nevertheless, the various efforts in this direction sometimes still appear to be slow. There is an impression that reform of the TNI is no longer seen as urgent.

There are two principle problems that have caused this homework, the reform of the TNI, not to have been finished. First, the civil elite frequently cites the TNI's low budget as an obstacle. Whereas the military budget is already higher that it was in the past.

Second, civil institutions are seen as not being ready to reform the TNI. This must be overcome by concrete measures to strengthen civil institutions, not to instead be used as grounds for delaying the reform of the TNI, not finishing the homework.

What exactly is this homework? Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono promised that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would issue a presidential regulation on the abolition of TNI businesses. But up until now this has still not happened, even though it had been planned since October 2005. The TNI Business Supervision and Transformation Team has only got to the point of verifying the number of business units.

If this continues to be postponed, the target of abolishing military businesses by 2009 will be difficult to achieve. This failure could lure TNI member into criminal activities and create the potential for conflict between individuals and or security units. Over the last year, 12 instances of violence between members of the TNI and the national police have been recorded, including most recently, the Ternate and North Maluku cases.

The strange thing, is that the civil elite consistently claim that these gang fights are caused by problems of soldier's poor welfare resulting from the low military budget. Whereas the problem is one of systematic irregularities, such as the corruption case involving soldiers pension funds by their officers and its related organisation PT Asabri, which provides social security for TNI personnel. Many cases are not thoroughly dealt with such as illegal weapons and the purchase of primary defense equipment (the Scorpio tanks, MI-17 helicopters, Fokker 50s). The cases just evaporate.

The interconnection of TNI members with criminality and corruption could weaken the esprit de corps and could have the consequence of weakening civil control (civil supremacy) over the military. As a consequence, cases involving the TNI are not resolved by justice, examples being the recent shooting of civilians in Alastlogo and the take over of land belonging to Rumpin residents in Bogor. These cases have discredited the TNI in the eyes of the public.


The implementation of the Law on the TNI to transfer the legal jurisdiction of civil criminal cases involving the TNI from the jurisdiction of the military to the public courts is also overdue. The deliberations over the Draft Law on Military Justice indicates the weakness of the civil elite leadership.

We were shocked by this new term "contextual justice" for civilians that commit military crimes. This term assumes that there is a legal vacuum for military crimes committed by civilians and turns common logic upside down. The reverse logic of this article is that if the military submits to civilian trials, then civilians are obliged to submit to military trials. Whereas the subject that is being regulated by the draft law is the military. In principle, military justice is not part of the judiciary. Military justice is a part of the internal system of military organisational command.

A shift in the civilian elite's paradigm has not fully taken place. What there is instead are steps to muffle demands over past issues. The TNI territorial structure is still the eyes and ears of the military and has the potential to become a tool of power. The latest case is the formation of joint teams in the Bantul area of Yogyakarta, Central Java, that involves non-commissioned military officer posted in villages and wards (Babinsa). This step is inconsistent with the TNI's claim to be promoting social empowerment and democratisation and could be wrongly interpreted.

The government should be able to take progressive steps in the reform of the TNI without spending a large amount of money or even at no cost at all. For example by issuing a presidential instruction, providing information of the result of an audit and supporting legal proceedings in cases involving the TNI. The budget should not be used a pretext to delay the reform of the TNI and its responsibility for past human rights violations.

The most important thing coming out all this is that the civilian elite, who are currently preparing for the 2009 general elections, cannot be allowed to drag the TNI back into practical politics. If this happens, it will destroy the commitment to reform that we have built for almost a decade.

[Usman Hamid is the Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras). Translated by James Balowski.]



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