Subject: SBY Slammed Over Slow Military Reform

Also Russian warships visit Jakarta

The Jakarta Post
Saturday, October 29, 2005

SBY Slammed Over Slow Military Reform

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was criticized on Friday for showing lack of commitment in pushing through the military reform program during his first year in office.

Al Araf, a researcher at human rights and democracy watchdog Imparsial, said the President seemed to have no control over the military's maneuvers in the field of politics, business sector and domestic security.

In politics, Imparsial noted the participation of several active military officers in this year's direct regional elections.

"The policy of Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief (Gen. Endriartono Sutarto) to allow servicemen to join the political race at local level is, indeed, against Article 39 of Law No. 34/2004 on military reform, as the article strictly bans the military from involvement in practical politics," Al Araf said on Friday.

"The President, however, failed to warn the military from reentering the political arena," he added.

In May of this year, the TNI headquarters suspended six active military officers to allow them to contest the direct regional elections in June for regents, mayors and provincial governors. The suspensions apparently took advantage of loopholes in Law No. 32/2004 on regional government that does not specifically ban active military or police officers from being nominated for regional government posts.

Another Imparsial researcher, Otto K. Pratama, noted that the government was dragging its feet in removing the military from the business sector as mandated by the law.

He said that Susilo had failed to create a corridor for the military to accede to the reform demands.

"Law No. 34/2004 on the military has mandated the government to take over business entities run by the military in order to create professional soldiers. With the process under way for almost a year, we only see officials assigned to evaluate the business entities. They are only talking about whether or not the companies are profitable and should be taken over by the government," Otto said.

He was referring to the ongoing verification held by four related ministries -- the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and the Office of the State Minister of State Enterprises -- during which officials have said the government would likely take over only 10 to 12 companies belonging to the military.

This means the military would likely retain many other business units held under its 219 military cooperatives and foundations.

As a comparison, Otto noted the Chinese government under Deng Xiao Ping had been able to accelerate the state takeover of all the Chinese military's business units within only six months.

Al Araf said the President's order to the TNI to be involved in handling terror threats nationwide through a military operation had violated the Constitution because "any application of the military operation should be discussed with the lawmakers in the first instance."

He referred to the request for the military to become more involved in countering terror threats in the nation made by Susilo in his speech during the commemoration of the TNI's 60th anniversary. In response, Endriartono pledged to reactivate the TNI's much-criticized territorial function.


Jakarta Post

October 29, 2005

Russian warships here on peace mission

An Indonesian marine patrols Tanjung Priok Port where five ships of the Russian Pacific fleet, including Missile Cruiser Varyag (in background), are anchored in the first Russian warship visit since 1968.

The four other warships (unseen) are antisubmarine warfare ships Panteleev, Admiral Tributs and auxiliary ships Pechenga and Kalar.

Led by Vice Adm. Sergei Avramenko, the warships will be anchored at the port until Nov. 2. They will continue their trip to neighboring Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam before returning to their home base. The warships went to India prior to visiting Indonesia.

"This is our first visit to Indonesia in 37 years. We have arranged some meetings with high-ranking Indonesian officials and expect there will be mutual meetings to develop military relations between both countries," Avramenko said, referring to planned meetings with Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono, Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Endriartono Sutarto and Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Slamet Soebijanto.

"I guess there will be no problems in enhancing cooperation (between the Russian and Indonesian militaries). We, the Russians, are ready to do so as we come for peace," he added.

Indonesia is developing closer defense ties with Russia after facing problems in procuring military equipment from the United States, which imposed an embargo as a response to reports on alleged gross human rights abuses in East Timor during, before and after the 1998 vote for independence.

Under the administration of then president Megawati Soekarnoputri, the Indonesian Air Force and the Army went on a "shopping spree" with the purchase of Russian-made Sukhoi jet fighters for the former and two Mi-35 assault helicopters for the latter.

During the three-day visit, the crews of the warships will also visit Satria Mandala War Museum. The Russian Naval Orchestra will perform in Tanjung Priok. Members of the public are welcome to visit the fleet on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (JP/Tiarma Siboro)


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