[ETAN-key] JP by Kontras: TNI Reform: No More Business as Usual
John M Miller
fbp at igc.org
Mon Oct 20 15:53:13 PDT 2008
The Jakarta Post
Friday, October 17, 2008
TNI Reform: No More Business as Usual
by Usman Hamid and Syaiful Haq, Jakarta
In his remarks during the ceremony to mark the 63rd anniversary of
the Indonesian Military (TNI) in Surabaya on Tuesday, TNI Chief Gen.
Djoko Santoso reported briefly on the five-point implementation of
TNI's internal reform agenda over the past 10 years:
TNI's neutrality in politics, the cessation of its involvement in
business, the reform of the military tribunal, the improvement of
soldiers' welfare and TNI professionalism.
Let us try to evaluate Gen. Djoko's report.
The success of TNI reform is a normative one. The implementation of
reform has only gone a quarter of the way down the long road to
It is still weighed down by the New Order paradigm, which is related
to the 1960s domestic political struggle and the threat of communism
within the context of the Cold War.
This is clearly reflected in various documents and facts found in the
field, including the Defense White Book published in 2008. The
dominant perception during the past 10 years is one that views the
domestic sphere as the source of a security threat, a view that has
hindered the transformation of the organization into a more professional one.
First of all, the success of eliminating the TNI's political role
should not be measured by the revocation of the TNI's seats in the
parliament (DPR). It also needs to be signified by the loss of
military domination in the formulation of the state's political policies.
Although the TNI's presence in the parliament ceased in 2004, the
stipulations in certain legal instruments such as the Law on the TNI
and Law on the Truth and Reconciliation Committee show the strong
influence the armed forces continue to wield.
In the Law on the TNI, for example, several of the TNI's old
positions, such as the presence of territorial command (koter) and
the "functionality" function, are still justified. The Law on the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which was expected to be a
medium to resolve past human right violations within the framework of
TNI's institutional reform, was found to be an example of a
problematic political product and revoked by the Constitutional Court.
The TNI still maintains the Army's territorial command structure,
such as Kodam (military regional command), Korem (military regiment
command), Kodim (the military district command) and Babinsa (village
guidance), whereas the 1998 reform demands the retraction of the
military "dual function" and the removal of territorial command
structure. The Armed Forces Faction in the parliament was abolished
in 2004 but the territorial command remained.
This decision set the TNI further apart from its need to adjust to
the global strategic environment, which has the prerequisite of
attaining an ideal defense posture appropriate to the challenges of
the 21st century.
This means that it should not be dependent on ground defense, but
rather on a technology-based and integrated defense system between
the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. This is the agenda to push for,
because TNI reform needs to be directed by the more general agenda of
security system reform, by setting up the National Defense Assembly
(DPN), which has still not been established.
The DPN is crucial to synergize the whole security policy framework
with the policies of other sectors in order to establish the welfare
and well-being of the people. This is an agency that should be the
medium for all actors to determine together the direction of the
Second, the political regulation succeeded in prohibiting the TNI
from engaging in business. However, during its implementation, the
state was slow in taking over the TNI's businesses.
Amid the delayed implementation, the state has neglected to take
action against ongoing business practices, and even failed to stop
the transfer of the TNI's assets to private parties. There appears to
be a large amount of the state's assets used by the TNI that have
been misused for illegal objectives.
Third, the delay in amending the Law on the Military Tribunal has
caused the low public accountability of the TNI before the law. TNI
members and the former officers of the military still have access to
special treatment when they are brought before the court.
Various forms of denial have been dealt with, whether by utilizing
political history claims, gaps in laws or influence or power. This
culture of impunity is hard to eliminate, and one of the causes is
that the Law on Military Tribunal has never been revised.
In many cases, military tribunals are used as a mechanism to calm
public protest without any guarantee for the delivery of justice. The
process of promotion to strategic positions in the TNI does not give
enough consideration to a person's human rights record. Thus impunity
and military violence endure, which demonstrates the strong influence
of the TNI on the national political stage.
Fourth, soldiers' welfare only serves as a political commodity to ask
for an increase in the defense budget, even to legitimize illegal
practices. The welfare of the soldiers has never been achieved
because, since the beginning, there has never been any serious effort
exerted on behalf of the government to achieve it.
The government submitted a draft bill on the TNI without inserting
any stipulation on soldiers' welfare, even though that is a crucial
consideration when one seeks to achieve professionalism within the
TNI as the state's instrument for defense. The argument that TNI
businesses would increase the capacity and welfare of the soldiers is
a bifurcation of truth, because the profit has always been enjoyed by
a few elites in the TNI.
Fifth, the TNI's professionalism can be built through the
modernization of the weapon system's main instrument (alutsista).
However, the development of state defense policy such as this will
require a large budget.
The development of professionalism can be done by making the
organization efficient, such as by eliminating territorial command,
or by limiting the system to only the border areas and the outermost islands.
We appreciate all that has been achieved during the decade of TNI
reform. However, to increase this to achieve thorough transformation
of the TNI, the government and the parliament must act on the above
mentioned issues. The main problem is the paradigm change in
formulating the state defense strategic policies.
The writers work for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims
of Violence (Kontras).
Joyo Indonesia News Service
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