Subject: Kontras, Politicians condemn plan to reactivate TNI's territorial commands

Also: JP: Politicians Slam Plan for TNI; JP: Minority believe military should keep powers

Kontras condemns plan to reactivate TNI's territorial commands - October 5, 2005

Anton Aliabbas, Jakarta ≠ The plan to reactivate the TNIís (Indonesian military) territorial commands has been greeted by condemnation. The coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Usman Hamid, believes it is irrelevant to reactivate the territorial commands to prevent terrorism because the TNI already has enough regional intelligence networks.

In terms of the legislation of course it allows the TNI to assist in preventing and averting terrorists. But if the mistake is with the problem of coordination, it means itís BINís [National Intelligence Agency] mistake, not the TNIĒ, said Hamid at a press conference at the Kontrasí offices on Jalan Borobudur in Meteng, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday October 5.

Hamid explained that the TNIís intelligence network could already be found at every Regional Military Command (Kodam) in Indonesia and they have already been integrated into the community. In addition to this, the Anti-Terrorism Law already provides extra powers and capabilities to the TNI to prevent criminal acts of terrorism.

It is because of this that Hamid believes that steps to reactivate the territorial commands are only to improve the TNIís public image. ďThey want to create an image that the TNI is still needed by societyĒ, said Hamid.

The TNIís plan to reactivate the territorial commands is in response to a request by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that the TNI be involved in the war against terrorism and the planned reactivation of the commands down to the lowest level is only in the context of dealing with terrorism. (gtp)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


The Jakarta Post Friday, October 7, 2005

Politicians Slam Plan for TNI

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Military's (TNI) plan to reactivate its territorial command drew strong criticism from the country's top politicians on Thursday as they claimed the move would pave the way for the military's involvement in politics.

"Reviving the territorial command is the wrong medicine for the disease we are dealing with. The move is only a tool to revive militarism. We should oppose that kind of intention as early as possible," said former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid on Thursday in a press conference held at headquarters of the country's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in Jakarta.

TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said on Wednesday that he would take the necessary measures to crack down on terrorist attacks in the country by reactivating the military's territorial command. He announced the plan after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, speaking at the 60th anniversary of the TNI, urged the military to take an active role in the fight against terrorism following the recent bomb blasts in Bali, which killed 22 people.

The territorial function covers the regional level, handled by the Regional Military Command (Kodam) to the village level, handled by non-commissioned officers assigned to villages and subdistricts.

Gus Dur said he doubted that the move would be an effective means to stop terrorists from taking action in the country.

"Who can guarantee that reviving it will make the country any safer? I don't think so. What is certain is that it will bring the country back to an authoritarian state," he said, adding that the military should only focus on defense issues and let internal security issues be handled by the police.

Speaking along the same lines, Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Hidayat Nur Wahid said the move was inappropriate because the military should only support the National Police and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in fighting terrorism, not take over the job.

"The function of the police and BIN should first be maximized. Therefore, I question the purpose of reviving the territorial command. If the military wants to support the National Police, then support its intelligence system," he said.

He feared that the plan would create conflict between the military and police officers as well as BIN's intelligence officers in the field.

"I'm afraid there could be a conflict over who has the authority to take important decisions. As we have seen, conflicts often happen between police and military officers because of the blurred division of authority," he said.

A political observer from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, J. Kristiadi, said that the move was a violation of Law No. 34/2004 on the military, which stipulates that the TNI territorial function shall be eliminated within five years after the law is issued.

"Reviving the territorial command is against the law," he said, adding that the military should only be involved in security matters if the police ask for their help.

Meanwhile, former deputy chief of staff of the Army Lt. Gen. Kiki Syahnakrie said that the only short term solution to fighting terrorism was by reviving the territorial command of the TNI.

He cited that one of the successes of the territorial command's function was the immediate solving of the Borobudur temple bombing case in 1985.

"Why was it safer during the New Order government? Because at that time, the territorial function was stronger and was supported by the anti-subversion law, which was revoked at the beginning of the reform era," he told Antara.


The Jakarta Post October 5, 2005

Minority believe military should keep powers

Hera Diani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Challenges still loom for a democratic state in Indonesia where civilians reign supreme, with a significant minority of people still believing military posts are vital for public order and security.

The survey, released on Tuesday by the Indonesian Research Institute (LSI), shows that a clear majority of Indonesians believe territorial military commands should be abolished.

Out of 1,137 people from 33 provinces interviewed in the survey on civilian supremacy and national defense, 55 percent to 58 percent of them disapproved of the territorial military commands at district, regional and provincial levels.

However, a significant minority of 24 percent to 28 percent of those surveyed still thought the military commands should be kept in the regions.

The survey, which was conducted in September, also revealed that just over half of the interviewers agreed that the decision to proclaim a state of emergency or declare war should be made by the government and legislators.

Fewer, only 30 percent of the respondents, wanted to give the military that authority.

The survey revealed, unsurprisingly, that 82.2 percent of those interviewed agreed that the military's main role was to defend the state from external threats.

However, support for the military in politics seems to be dropping, with only 24 percent of people surveyed of the view that the country should be led by former military officer, a drop from 34 percent last year.

The majority approved of the TNI's decision to quit politics, although some 26 percent of them could accept the military's continued involvement in politics.

A large majority, around 68 percent of people, agreed that active military members should not occupy legislative posts, nor become the president, while between 51 percent and 60 percent suggested that only the government and the House of Representatives should decide the defense budget.

Fears that the military would ignore the role of civilian leaders were also high, with less than 50 percent of people believing that a civilian defense minister would have the authority to control and command military generals.

Most people, however, support reducing the military's powers and agree that the state should be solely responsible for financing the military and should increase the salaries of its members. They thought the military should be banned from engagement in businesses.

LSI executive director Saiful Mujani said the findings showed that while democratic impulses were the majority, a significant minority still believed in the importance of the military in politics and business.

Military observer Salim Said said the continued support for the military could have something to do with the unpopularity of the police and House members.

"The people lack trust in the police. They also do not appreciate the performance of House members. The civilian political system's failure also encourages the military's involvement in politics," he told a discussion about the survey.

Meanwhile, legislator Effendy Choiry from Commission I on security, defense and foreign affairs said he believed many in the military had no intention of letting civilians take away their special political and economic powers.

"Don't heap the blame on legislators or the failure of civilians. We all are still learning, so give us a chance. The military has reigned supreme for years," he said.

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