Subject: TNI Chief Says Nation Not ready for Democracy

also: JP: Indonesia lacks quality leadership, says seminar; Indonesia military leader vows to reform; Indonesian President Susilo asks military not be dictated by arms suppliers

The Jakarta Post Friday, January 25, 2008

Military chief says nation not ready for democracy

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Djoko Santoso said Thursday recent election disputes which turned violent in some regions served notice that the nation was not prepared for democracy.

Djoko told a press conference at the conclusion of a two-day TNI leadership meeting here the military was concerned about the conflicts, which he said could endanger national unity.

"It (the conflict) is an indication, a sign, that we ... are not ready to practice democracy," he said.

He was referring to ongoing disputes between supporters of candidates in the elections for governor and deputy governor in South Sulawesi and North Maluku. The election disputes have dragged on, despite the Supreme Court's intervention.

While acknowledging that the political implications of the disputes should not concern the military, Djoko said the TNI bore the responsibility to restore peace.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has appointed Army chief operational assistant Maj. Gen. Tanribali Lamo as interim governor of South Sulawesi, a move which pro-democracy activists say signals a return of the military to practical politics.

Tanribali retired from the military just before his induction as interim governor, a position that will require him to restore peace and reconcile the conflicting camps.

Yudhoyono himself resigned from the military after he accepted a ministerial post in the Cabinet of President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid. Army chief territorial assistant Maj. Gen. Prijanto is another officer who gave up his military career for a political job as the running mate of Fauzi Bowo in the Jakarta gubernatorial election last year.

A number of retired military generals are also eying gubernatorial or deputy gubernatorial posts in several future regional elections, reminiscent of the New Order period which saw military officers hold key civilian posts.

Djoko's discontent with the democratization process in the country echoes previous statements, including from Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

"It is not surprising to see people elect figures who can maintain discipline and stability. Thus, the chance for those with a military background could be bigger," Kalla was quoted by Antara as saying Wednesday in Mecca, where he is on a minor haj pilgrimage.

Some observers have criticized civilian politicians for suffering an "inferiority complex" when it comes to elections, saying they tend to rely on figures with a military background. (uwi)

-----------------------

The Jakarta Post Friday, January 25, 2008

Indonesia lacks quality leadership, says seminar

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After nearly 10 years, democracy in Indonesia has not produced quality leadership at central and regional levels, a seminar concluded Wednesday.

"Quality political parties, capable of producing quality leaders, are essential to create a good democracy in a country," State Secretary Hatta Radjasa announced at a seminar presented and attended by leading political figures.

Hatta said leaders did not necessarily have to be members of a party.

"Individual leaders who are not from parties would enrich and challenge Indonesia's political leadership," he said.

After 32 years under an authoritarian regime, Indonesia became a democracy in 1998. Since that time the new democracy has seen four presidents and a grueling fight between dozens of political parties.

Hatta said a political candidate's recruitment and training would be valuable to help political parties build reliable and quality leadership.

He said since Indonesia had adopted democracy into its national political system, it had been challenged to design the "software" and "hardware" of a democracy.

"The culture of society-based democracy is the most suitable form of democracy for this country," said Hatta, who is a National Mandate Party executive.

Hatta said democracy is not only a tool to reach power, but also is a set of humanitarian values held by society, which should be able to drive change.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) secretary general Pramono Anung said political parties had relied too much on their political figures' charisma alone. While recruitment of party members remains ineffective, parties will continue to fall short of finding quality leaders and the much-needed circulation of party elite will be absent, Anung said.

To ensure political stability, Pramono suggested that Indonesia limits the number of political parties eligible to contest in elections.

"It's not only about reducing the number of political parties, but also about ideology," Anas said.

Indonesian politics has been marked by two mainstream ideologies; nationalism and Islam. Muslim-based parties, however, have never won enough votes to control the parliament. Despite the fact that Muslims make up the majority of Indonesia's population those parties have steadily lost public support in elections. Nationalist-oriented parties meanwhile have managed to woo support from Muslim voters.

Anas Urbaningrum, deputy chairman of the Democrat Party, said recruitment of leaders would require improvement of the election system. (rff)

also: Indonesian President Susilo asks military not be dictated by arms suppliers; Factbox-Indonesia's military chief vows reforms

--

Indonesia military leader vows to reform armed forces

By Ahmad Pathoni

JAKARTA, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Indonesia's new military commander vowed on Thursday to push ahead with reforms of the armed forces, turning it into a law-abiding, professional body.

Indonesia's military wielded considerable political power under former President Suharto, who ruled for more than three decades. During that time, it was involved in massacres, extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses, often conducted in the name of maintaining national unity.

But after Suharto was forced to step down in 1998 and Indonesians embraced greater democracy, the military, known by its Indonesian acronym TNI, was stripped of its fixed quota of seats in parliament.

"The TNI will complete and evaluate the reform process and maintain its neutrality in politics," General Djoko Santoso told a news conference at military headquarters in Jakarta. He also vowed to increase soldiers' welfare, improve the armed forces' professionalism and play a wider role in disaster relief.

But, Santoso warned that the greatest threat to Indonesia's security was domestic. "Indonesia's biggest challenge is maintaining unity," he said, a clear reference to Indonesia's separatists, such as those who want independence for the remote area of Papua.

Santoso, who took office last month, is a close ally of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general who studied in the United States. Yudhoyono won Indonesia's first direct presidential elections in 2004 on pledges to pursue reforms, tackle corruption, create jobs and boost economic growth.

While the military is no longer represented in parliament, it is still seen as having political influence, and has proved immune from prosecution over its human rights abuses.

Yudhoyono on Thursday warned the military against abusing its power and taking unlawful action under the pretext of protecting the nation.

Speaking at the end of the military's leadership meeting, he warned that there were people who believed that the armed forces could take any action necessary to stabilise the nation even if it violated the law. He did not say who these people were.

"Let us not act individually. Let us not follow the example of some countries ... where the political situation is unstable, there were revolts and coups, resulting in a failure to build a democratic culture and good political system," he told dozens of high-ranking officers at the military headquarters.

"The TNI must not say: 'Oh this is not right. We must not listen to the president and parliament'," he added, in what appeared to be a reference to ASEAN fellow members Thailand and the Philippines.

Yudhoyono is widely expected to seek another term in the next presidential election in 2009.

LUCRATIVE BUSINESS

Under Suharto, the military was involved in running various lucrative businesses and was frequently accused of rights abuses.

As part of post-Suharto reform, parliament passed a 2004 law requiring the government to take over all military businesses by 2009.

But human rights groups said the process had been too slow.

Santoso said the military had surrendered all its businesses to the government and it was up to the civilian authorities to decide what to do with them.

"We have nothing left. The ball is not in our court," he said.

The military's involvement in business ventures has sometimes led to human rights abuses because of disagreements with local communities over mining and timber rights.

Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono told Reuters on Thursday he hoped that a presidential decree on the restructuring of military businesses could be signed next week. He declined to elaborate.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a report released in June 2006, said the Indonesian military raises money outside the government budget through a sprawling network of legal and illegal businesses, many of which are not controlled by the military's central command. (Editing by Sara Webb)

-------------------------------------

Indonesian President Susilo asks military not be dictated by arms suppliers

JAKARTA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asked the country's armed forces not to be dictated by armament suppliers in determining the scale of priority for its military equipment, despite limited budget.

The president made the statement in front of military officers at the headquarters in East Jakarta.

"The TNI (armed forces) must reject to be dictated by its arms dealers. Instead, it is the TNI that should dictate them," said President Susilo.

The president admitted that the country still had limited capability to meet the ideal funds of 11 billion U.S. dollars for military to secure the huge archipelago country with more than 17, 500 islands.

But, for this year the government already rose 12 percent of the budget to 3.83 billion U.S. dollars, compared to the previous year, Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has said.

Indonesia faces serious threat of transnational crimes, such as terrorism, illegal fishing and separatist movements.

The president asked that the limitation not to hamper the professionalism of the forces.

"Many countries, such as the United States and Japan which are economically powerful, also have a limited capability in allocating enough budget funds for their defense sector," said Susilo.

"But, this does not mean that the TNI and the defense sector did not need to be given an adequate budget to build up their power," he said.

Therefore, Susilo said, the limited amount of funds that was available should be used efficiently on procurement of military

-------------------------------------

Factbox-Indonesia's military chief vows reforms

JAKARTA, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Indonesia's Armed Forces chief General Djoko Santoso vowed on Thursday to push ahead with the reform of the armed forces, turning it into a law-abiding, professional body.

Here are some key facts on the military and its functions.

HISTORY:

-- The army, navy and air force were reorganised into the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) in 1999, replacing the former body, Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (ABRI), which also included the police.

SIZE:

-- The army is the largest regular unit with 233,000 troops. But it was outnumbered by a 280,000-strong paramilitary force in 2006, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

DUAL MISSION:

-- The military was given responsibility for defence and politics under the "dwifungsi", or dual function, doctrine during Suharto's rule.

DEPLOYMENTS UNDER SUKARNO:

-- Sukarno, the republic's first president from 1945-67, depended on the military to suppress revolts. He ordered troops to crush rebellions in Sumatra and Sulawesi in 1956 and 1957, and separatist movements in Papua province in the 1960s.

DEPLOYMENTS UNDER SUHARTO:

-- Suharto, an army general who took over as president from 1967-98, repeatedly sent troops into independence-seeking areas such as Aceh in southwest Sumatra and to East Timor in 1975, ahead of its 1976 annexation.

THE ARMY UNDER YUDHOYONO:

-- President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the former army general who became the first popularly elected president in 2004, is now trying to reform and professionalise the military to rein in abuses of power and corruption.

-- In October 2007, he publicly warned the armed forces against returning to politics. Progress though, has been slow. A law passed in 2004 requiring that the government take over all military businesses by 2009 has yet to have its implementing regulations issued.

BUSINESS LINKS:

-- The military's involvement in business began during the 1945-49 independence movement, when units raised their own funds to fight Dutch colonial authorities.

MODERN SELF-FINANCING:

-- The military budget, 3 percent of GDP in 2004, is thought small for a country of 234 million spanning 17,000 islands.

-- Self-financing has continued through legal and illegal activities such as organised smuggling and illegal taxes; military commanders allying themselves with businesses; and securing stakes in business ventures managed by a private partner.

ALLEGED EXTORTION:

-- Foreign companies using the military for security at worksites and staff quarters, such as U.S. gold and copper mining giant Freeport, operator of the Grasberg mine in Papua province, have reported instances of corruption and abuse.

-- Critics such as Human Rights Watch report soldiers in conflict areas often engage in extortion and property seizures. They say non-accountability and the clout of authority fuel corruption, violation of human rights and general social unrest.

Sources: Reuters, Human Rights Watch  http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/21/indone13587.htm 

CIA World Factbook http://geography.about.com/library/cia/blcindonesia.htm  

The International Institute for Strategic Studies: The Military Balance 2006 (Writing by Sulastri Osman, Singapore Editorial Reference Unit)


Back to January  menu

December 2007
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu